The communities of Patterdale and Glenridding historically were mainly farming and mining orientated, but of late, they have become more and more reliant on tourism. Mining ceased in the early 1960's and farming employs less people by the year.
The number of holiday homes and retired people in the area make the recruitment and retention of retained firefighters challenging. The fire engine based at patterdale covers an area from the inn at the top of Kirkstone Pass in the south, this is 1500' above sea level; northwards as far as Watermillock which is half way down the side of Lake Ullswater, and westwards as far as the A66 at Troutbeck.
Within that area the most significant risks are undoubtedly the large hotels in and around Glenridding and along the length of Lake Ullswater. Also within the area are two Youth Hostels and several residential outdoor pursuit centres, which cater for large numbers of students, many of secondary school age. Other risks include agricultural premises and the lake steamers which can carry up to 200 passengers.
The station was purpose-built in 1974 halfway between Patterdale and Glenridding next to the Police station, which has long since closed and is now privately owned. The fire station was built to house a Land Rover and so space is quite limited now that a full-sized appliance is required. Prior to this, the appliance was housed in what is now the Hikers Bar at the Ullswater Hotel, which played a prominent role in the BBC drama series 'The Lakes'. Originally the crew was made up of many of the miners who made up the Mines Rescue at the Greenside Mine, Glenridding.
Patterdale is a relatively quiet station with probably no more than 30 call outs per year. Varied types of incident include chimney fires, barn fires, house fires, road traffic collisions, prolonged flooding jobs and automatic alarms from Hotels, A memorable special service call was to the Ullswater steamer the M.V Raven which was about to sink at its moorings when a stop cock failed. The light portable pump soon had her pumped out and floating again ready for the season.
Each ON-Call fire station in Cumbria has at least one trained community firefighter who is involved in the station area fitting free smoke alarms and giving fire safety advice to the public. The following wards are covered: Ullswater and Askham.