Fire Department

Find fire departments, city fire stations, firefighters, brigades, chiefs, inspectors, marshals, and local volunteers. Fire departments provide information on fire risk assessment, permits, fire alarms, and safety guidance.

What is a Fire Department?

A fire department provides emergency firefighting, medical and life-saving services for a given municipality or region. Fire departments protect citizens and vital infrastructure. These departments employ skilled firefighters equipped with life-saving resources (fire trucks, jaws-of-life, oxygen tanks and defibrillators) who know how to fight fires and save lives. These departments are especially important in areas with large populations. Multiple-city fire stations, divided into brigades, generally serve metropolitan areas. Federal and state governments employ firefighters, but volunteer brigades are also commonly found in rural communities. The head of a fire department is known as the fire chief, and the senior officer at the state level is the fire commissioner.

In addition to fighting fires, these departments regulate and enforce building codes, and provide safety inspections and education. Fire departments employ forensic inspectors and arson investigators who work with law enforcement to determine the cause of suspicious fires. Fire marshals provide risk assessment, inspect buildings, and issue safety permits. The department provides information about smoke alarms and educates the public regarding fire hazards.

In the event of a fire, dial 9-1-1.

Fire Departments are responsible for

  1. Firefighting. When a fire breaks out, time is of the essence. Firefighters are trained to minimize response time and get fires under control quickly. Different kinds of fires (structural, automobile, forest) require different strategies. Departments maintain hydrants and inspect sprinkler systems to make sure everything is in working order.
  2. Life safety services. First aid is a crucial part of being a firefighter. Firefighters serve as first responders during medical emergencies. They're trained in CPR, use of defibrillators and triage. Firefighters also conduct rescue operations in dangerous or hard-to-access areas.
  3. Permits. Buildings must be safe in order to be legal. Fire codes minimize the risk posed by potentially unsafe structures. For example, commercial buildings are required to have functioning fire alarms and extinguishers. Inspection and regulation falls to the fire department, as do tasks relating to permits such as brush burning or propane storage.
  4. Risk assessment. Part of a firefighter's job is to understand risk-assessment profiles and fire codes. Departments conduct risk assessment on properties, movie sets, and in forests where wildfires are common.
  5. Education. The best way to avoid fires is to educate the public about potential hazards and responsible ways to deal with them. Departments work with schools to ensure proper education regarding fire safety.

Are there different types of Fire Departments?

Yes. Fire departments exist at municipal, state, private and federal levels. Some departments have a specific focus, like search and rescue, fighting wildfires, or pyrotechnic safety. Local on-call volunteers may staff fire departments in rural areas with low populations.