A fire department is responsible for firefighting, fire prevention, and emergency medical services. In addition to putting out fires, members of the fire department provide rescue services and disaster recovery assistance. Most of these departments are operated by city and county governments. Some departments, mostly in small rural communities, are staffed entirely by volunteers, although, paid, professional firemen staff the typical firefighting organization.
Some departments specialize in fighting wildfires, and others are trained to respond to industrial and hazardous materials fires. Firefighters are known for their quick response and 24-hour availability, and for their professionalism. They also perform fire-safety inspections including checking smoke detectors, and may supply fire extinguishers to people who need them.
What is the difference between a fire commissioner and a fire chief?
A fire commissioner is the head officer at the state level, responsible for supervision of all subsidiary stations, as well as oversight of safety regulations and fire codes. A fire chief is often the acting head of a municipal or volunteer firefighting department.
What is the process to become a firefighter?
Fire departments have varying requirements. Prospective firefighters must pass both psychological and physical exams. Candidates must pass background checks and drug tests.
I have a concern that may involve the Fire Department. Should I call 9-1-1?
If you ever see or smell smoke, it's safest to call 9-1-1 immediately. Still, if you have a different concern, perhaps a question about fire safety or building inspection, you should call the department's non-emergency phone number during normal business hours.