Ask a Firefighter/FAQs

fire fighters eating togetherMost Washington fire fighters work 24- or 48-hour shifts.  During that time, they live at the fire station and cook their own meals. They buy their own groceries and divide the bill so that everyone pays their share. They never know when they will be called to assist.  To insure that a full team of fire fighters can respond to a call and arrive in a matter of minutes, the fire crew on duty must use the vehicle they respond in—with all of the crew present and available.  If a call comes in while fire fighters are in a grocery store they leave directly and return later to collect their shopping.
fire truck equipment A fire engine, or pumper, carries water, hose, tools, and is primarily used in pumping water at fires.  It can carry ladders, but they are set up by fire fighters, not attached to the vehicle. A fire truck is equipped with a large ladder that extends from the truck but cannot be removed.  The most common length of these ladders are from 75 to 100 feet. These vehicles traditionally do not carry water or have a pump.
24 hour shifts Emergencies happen at all hours of the day and night.  Fire fighters need to be on duty 24/7 to be ready to respond.  Cities and communities have adopted 24-hour shifts so that fire fighters can be ready and available.  Twenty-four-hour shifts allow time during the day to train, prepare for emergencies and drill while also being available at night to continue protecting the community.
Pasco Fireifighters/EMTS with Fire TruckTime is critical in a medical emergency, and fire fighters can get there first.  All Washington fire fighters are trained as emergency medical technicians, and many of them are paramedics.  They can use lifesaving medications and techniques to prevent death or permanent injury. These are most effective if the emergency responders can reach a patient within a few minutes.  The ambulance can then transport the patient to an emergency room.
paramedicsBoth EMTs and paramedics are highly skilled and are able to transport and provide emergency care to patients.  The difference between them is the amount of education they receive and what they are allowed to do for patients.
fire fighterApproximately 75% of 911 calls are medical emergencies.  These calls include emergencies such as heart attacks, strokes, seizures, diabetic issues, and many more.  All professional firefighters in Washington State are trained as Emergency Medical Technicians.  This allows them to provide care to patients on these medical emergency calls.
Fire hydrants must be visible and accessible. Many cites require a minimum of a 36” clearance on all sides around the fire hydrants. Fire hose that is used to pump from the hydrants to the fire engines (pumpers) is very large and not very flexible. Because of its diameter and inability to bend easily, it needs room to maneuver around.
firetrucks in traffic When you see lights and hear a siren, you should move to the right to allow the fire apparatus to go by. Everyone moving the same way allows uniformity and reduces confusion.
Become a WA Union Fire FigtherFire department hiring practices vary by location. Many departments are now using national testing organizations to be the first step in the hiring process. Once vetted through these programs, specific departments can contact these organizations and gather candidates. Some organizations, mainly in rural locations, still have cadet or volunteer programs which are a good place to get information about getting a career in the fire service. Find our more about becoming a Washington State Union Fire Fighter.
cutting hole in roofCutting a hole or breaking a window helps to ventilate smoke and gases, and it lets fire fighters get inside a building to find and extinguish a fire.  Improved conditions increase the chance of survival if someone is trapped inside. These techniques also help reduce the chances of a backdraft explosion.
Fireman carrying firehoseDriving over a hose can cause damage and can interrupt or stop the flow of water to a fire fighter working to extinguish a fire – possibly resulting in injury or death. Fire hose is designed to withstand a lot of pressure from the inside; however, it is not designed to be crushed or run over.
Firefighters do take care of a wide variety of emergencies; however, animal control is the agency best suited to get your cat out of the tree. They can be contacted through 911 … just let the dispatcher know your situation, and he or she will get you the appropriate help.