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A typical chalet in the Swiss Alps.

A chalet (pronounced /ˈʃæleɪ/), also called Swiss chalet, is a type of building or house in the Alpine region made of wood.

Definition and origin

A 'chalet' in the hills to the east of Orosí, Costa Rica.

Webster's Dictionary defines a chalet as "A wooden dwelling with a sloping roof and widely overhanging eaves, common in Switzerland and other Alpine regions." The term can nowadays be used for any cottage or lodge built in this style.

The term chalet stems from Arpitan speaking part of Switzerland and Savoy and originally referred to the hut of a herder. It derives from the medieval Latin calittum, which might come from an Indoeuropean root cala that means shelter. In Quebec French, any summer or vacation dwelling, especially near a ski hill, is called a chalet whether or not it is built in the style of a Swiss chalet.

Many chalets in the European Alps were originally used as seasonal farms for dairy cattle which would be brought up from the lowland pastures during the summer months. The herders would live in the chalet and make butter and cheese in order to preserve the milk produced. These products would then be taken, with the cattle, back to the low valleys before the onset of the alpine winter. The chalets would remain locked and unused during the winter months. Around many chalets there are small windowless huts called mazots which were used to lock away valuable items for this period.

Modern usage

In North American ski areas, the word Chalet is also used to describe buildings that house cafeterias and other services provided to the tourist, even though they often look nothing like the traditional Swiss chalet.

A typical chalet in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Nowadays, in North America, Europe and Asia, the use of the world Chalet goes beyond a mountain location. The term Chalet is frequently used to describe resort like homes or residential properties located by the beach. For example Arabs from Lebanon and the Persian Gulf region refer to houses on the beach as chalets.

In Canada there is a chain of restaurants named Swiss Chalet. A company in the United States named themselves Sport Chalet.

See also


CHALET is a mnemonic indicating a protocol used by UK emergency services to report situations which they may be faced with, especially as it relates to major incidents[1][2][3].

CHALET dictates the form in which the receiving control station should get information from the first person or officer on scene. In some jurisdictions, the alternative ETHANE may be used.

It stands for:

  • Casualties - Approximate numbers of dead, injured and uninjured
  • Hazards - Present and potential
  • Access - Best access routes for emergency vehicles, bottlenecks to avoid etc.
  • Location - The precise location of the incident
  • Emergency - Emergency services already on scene, and what others are required
  • Type - Type of Incident, including details of numbers of vehicles, buildings etc. involved

In the event of this being used for a major incident, the reporting first on scene officer would not usually get involved with the rescue work, but act as a co-ordinator on scene for arriving emergency vehicles. This individual would often assume the role of Silver Ambulance/Police/Fire dependent on their service. This is in line with the widely used Gold Silver Bronze command structure.

The Silver commander at an incident usually operates from a command vehicle. Before a specially designed vehicle arrives an improvised command vehicle is appointed by leaving one vehicle's lightbar/blue lights running, whilst the others turn theirs off.


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