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Help me out here, please...

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  • Help me out here, please...

    While exploring your superb FF websites in the US, There are some things I quite not understand:
    - What's the meaning of a two or three alarm call?
    - How much equipment does your department send to a normal house fire and what other equipment do you have to fight bigger or special fires?

    We in Belgium don't have the two and three alarm codes, our departments are normally confined to one station, bigger cities have more.
    We have 1 head post (professional unit and home to two sections volunteers) and two smaller houses of each two sections volunteers.
    In Aalst we use following scales:
    Code 0: Only the professional FF: 1 engine.
    Code 1: Professional FF: 1 engine, 1 truck, 1 ambulance
    Volunteers: 1 engine.
    Code 2,3,4,5: different upscaling codes to get either more volunteers (in total six sections) or more professional FF (in total five teams, including the ones at work) on the scene.
    They take the equipment best needed for the job upon arrival in the firehouse.

    Code 1 is a house fire.
    Codes 2,3,4,5 are for factories, hotels, hospitals,...

  • #2
    The first Alarm is the units responding. In most jurisdictions a 2nd Alarm duplicates the first. Example: Original dispatch is 4 engines 2 trucks, a Heavy Rescue Squad, an Advanced Life Support Unit and a Battalion Chief. A second alarm would get a duplication of that. In some cases as the number of alarms increase it will bring the addition of an Assistant Chief of Chief Deputy. A special alarm is when a request is made for one or more specific pieces that have certain function such as Haz Mat, technical rescue, water shuttle tankers etc.

    This is true to form inmost cases. The number and type of units on each alarm will differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction depending on their operating guidelines. For example a first alarm to the World Trade Centers was huge as compared to the first alarm to a high rise fire in Washington D.C.

    There is no differences in the alarms as far as specifically dispatching volunteers. There are all volunteer departments, combination departments, total career departments, volunteer paid on call departments here and their procedures for dispatch will vary with each jurisdiction. Some volunteers departments keep crews in station 24-hours a day. Others are dispatched and respond to the scene or to the station to get the apparatus.

    Hope that helps you some.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.


    • #3
      In our volunteer department we don`t work as much on the alarm system as everyone else. If we get a call for a fire, all our rigs will go, and we`ll get a mutual aid engine from the next district. If we need more assistance, we can call addition engines, trucks, or rescues from the other 4 volunteer departments, or the paid guys downtown.

      Now, where it`s all paid in the downtown area, they`ll send 3 engines, 1 or 2 trucks, the rescue, and the chief to most calls. If they need more, they`ll call for a second alarm and usually get 2 more engines, and a truck. If they need even more, they`ll clear all the rest of downtown with the 3rd, and 4th alarms. On a 4th alarm, our truck, and an engine from our neigboring volunteers go down to stand by. On a 5th alarm, all of my department will respond to the scene, and it goes up the line, and into other cities from there. Only 1 time did what would technically be a 6th alarm, go into effect.


      • #4
        Around the country different alarm assignments mean different things. As captstanm1 and BFD45 both have indicated, different departments and counties do different things. One department I am member of doesn't even have second and third alarm assignments preplanned- its up to the chief officer to chose who comes (not something I agree with at all). In another department I work with, its very cleary defined and is specified to what area of the district your in and if it has hydrants or not. Typically a single alarm has 2-3 engines, a truck and a rescue. The next alarm as Captstanm1 said, duplicates it. In my department, if its in an area with no hydrants, a tanker task force is put on it with 3-5 tankers. I know this doesn't really answer your question but I hope it helps. Besafe!!

        [ 10-16-2001: Message edited by: Ross Johnson ]
        Brookside Engine Company, (NJ)-Captain
        Morristown(NJ) Fire Department-FF
        Mendham Township First Aid(NJ)-EMT- Officer

        These views are my own and do not reflect those of these departments


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