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.
A Fire Department is a government agency, usually at the county or local level, that provides fire protection and emergency response services to the community with a mission to prevent the loss of life and property. In addition to responding to calls for fire suppression, Fire Departments respond to medical emergencies, incidents involving hazardous materials, rescue calls, and motor vehicle or other accidents.
Fire Departments may be staffed with paid professional firefighters, volunteers, or a combination of the two. Professional Fire Departments are usually organized around a central command with response units, known as fire companies, geographically dispersed throughout the jurisdiction. Volunteer Fire Departments may be organized with a similar structure or as independent fire districts with their own fire company. Larger, more urbanized communities are more likely to have Professional Fire Departments, while Volunteer Fire Departments tend to be more common in small and rural communities.
In an emergency situation, 911 calls are received at a designated public safety answering point (PSAP). The PSAP routes the call to the appropriate dispatch agency, which coordinates the Fire Department response. The responding fire company may be determined based on geographic location or the resource needed for the call, such as an aerial ladder, water pumper, tanker truck, brush fire vehicle, rescue vehicle, or paramedic. In many cases, multiple resources are dispatched to the emergency.
Fire prevention may be incorporated into Fire Department operations, or it may be organized as a separate department under the Fire Marshal. Fire prevention involves the enforcement of the Fire Code and is closely associated with the building code and building permitting process. The Fire Marshal is typically involved in the plan review process for new construction or renovation projects, and is responsible for ensuring that Fire Code requirements are met before signing off on design plans. Other common fire prevention efforts include educational programs in schools, public information campaigns, smoke detector distribution programs, and outreach at public events. The Fire Marshal also investigates structure fires to determine their causes.
Some Fire Departments seek accreditation by the Center for Public Safety Excellence. A Fire Department can become accredited if it has adopted best practices in the delivery of services.