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  • 1st alarm, 2nd alarm, going 3rd

    Ok, most of you know I am new at this.

    I don't believe I have heard (since I have been involved here in smallville) a 3rd alarm but one time.

    I am currently listening to different dispatchers these days for a number of reasons. Mostly to learn and understand how things are done ofcourse.

    I heard my first fire go to 3rd alarm the other night in Manhattan, then tonight my friend who is a LT and dispatcher spoke with me about a fully involved fire while it was happening.

    I asked if it was a 2nd or 3rd alarm yet. In her area they don't call out alarms. They go by the number of dept's. they have called out. So her reply was simply the first due has arrived on scene with the type of trucks arriving and that they count by the number of depts' not alarms. I asked to keep me updated and it turned out 7 FD's were called.

    I am curious how trucks/engines (and all other Apparatus) are called out in other states for a fully involved private dwelling. Do you call it alarms or dept's or something else?

    *Just so you all know, I am adding this sentence to clarify my question. I am not repeating myself on purpose. (though I do seem to ramble on as some already know. : )

    My questions really pertains to names. What do other Depts' use to describe the intensity of the fire, the next level? We call it alarms, do you call it a different name? If so, what is it?

    If you have time to include who rolls out, please by all means list them up. (up to the 3rd alarm).
    Last edited by firetruckred; 08-23-2006, 08:39 AM.

  • #2
    Red- On the east coast, the number of companies assigned to an "alarm" varies, but the "average" I would say is:

    For the initial assignment, or the initial "Box": 4 engine companies, 2 truck (ladder) companies, 1 rescue or squad company, and 2 chiefs, whether it be two batallions or a batallion and a deputy (senior shift supervisor.)

    Second Alarms "average" 4 engines and a truck, or 3 engines and a truck, all dependant on where you are.

    Additionally, many cities dispatch special units on the "box" if it is a working fire with all companies "going to work" or "all hands." As an example, in certain areas of New York City, an "all hands" automatically gets you a "Sattellite" company- a large capacity engine and a seperate rig with an ENORMOUS deluge gun. Other areas of the city wait until a second alarm is transmitted before they get a sattellite company.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    • #3
      According to one FDNY source...the SOP is the following:

      Second Alarm
      8 engines
      5 ladders
      4 battalion chiefs
      1 rescue
      1 squad
      1 deputy chief
      1 RAC unit
      1 satellite
      safety battalion
      SOC battalion
      1 tactical support unit
      field comm

      Third Alarm
      12 engines
      7 ladders
      5 battalion chiefs
      1 rescue
      1 squad
      1 deputy chief
      1 RAC unit
      1 satellite
      safety battalion
      SOC battalion
      1 tactical support unit
      field comm
      mask service unit

      Fourth Alarm
      16 engines
      9 ladders
      5 battalion chiefs
      1 rescue
      1 squad
      1 deputy chief
      1 RAC unit
      1 satellite
      safety battalion
      SOC battalion
      1 tactical support unit
      field comm

      Fifth Alarm
      20 engines
      11 ladders
      5 battalion chiefs
      1 rescue
      1 squad
      1 deputy chief
      1 RAC unit
      1 satellite
      safety battalion
      SOC battalion
      1 tactical support unit
      field comm

      For all subsequent alarms add
      4 engines
      2 ladders


      Hope this helps....FDNY dispatch policies would take pages upon pages upon pages.
      Last edited by NJFFSA16; 08-23-2006, 07:01 AM. Reason: spelling
      Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
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      • #4
        Yes, that helps.

        This is my thoughts. They don't call it "alarms" they call it "Depts" and since they don't call it alarms I am wondering if other area's have different names to clarify the intensity of the call. A list of who arrives is an added bonus to my question and would love to see that as well.

        I spoke with her (the dispatcher) when she arrived at work. She just updated me before her shift was over. ( because last I heard there were 5 people in the dwelling they thought, but turns out only one and the person was outside) She said they were just returning home around 7 am. This means they were there from 11 til 7. Pretty good fire if I may say so. Last night as it was happening I wasn't really sure though because of the terms she used. "Dept's" and not "alarms".

        Thanks.
        Last edited by firetruckred; 08-23-2006, 08:46 AM.

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        • #5
          Its up to the Officer in Charge to decide what he needs based on what tasks need to be done. A fully invovled PD in the middle of nowere with zero exposures generally can be handled by a couple of Engine Co. just dumping water. A fully invovled PD in the area I work, have gone as high as 5 alarms because the proximity to other buildings, which usually lite up too. Chiefs here can special call units up the next alarm. Meaning he call call 3 additional Engines or Trucks without having to go to a Second.

          Fire on the top floor of the Big "H" apartment buildings, were fire has gotten into the cockloft are automatic second alarms. We need the manpower to stretch more lines and pull ceilings.

          A fire in which the FAST Truck is put to work, a second alarm will be transmited.

          On extremely hot days, multiples can be transmited for relief purposes.

          Extended operations, multiples can be transmited...again for relief.

          Its not just the volume of fire that dictates what a mulitple is....its manily about How many resources you need to get a job done, but that too...isn't always true. I have been to a few jobs that should have went to a Second but were held at all hands.
          IACOJ Member

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          • #6
            In my area of Idaho, we don't use the alarm term. When I went to the NFA, I was confused by it. We count the number of mutual aid departments that we bring in as well.

            Just last weekend we had a Hazmat call, dynamite at a yard sale. We mutual aided 2 other depts, ambulance, and bomb squad.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by kd7fds
              In my area of Idaho, we don't use the alarm term. When I went to the NFA, I was confused by it. We count the number of mutual aid departments that we bring in as well.

              Just last weekend we had a Hazmat call, dynamite at a yard sale. We mutual aided 2 other depts, ambulance, and bomb squad.
              This sounds very similar to what we do here in Niagara County, NY. We tend to special call for the equipment we need, since each Department has different amounts of apparatus, the mutual aid needs would be different.

              For example, my FD has 2 engines, a tanker, an ambulance, and a brush truck. So a private dwelling in my first due would have both of our engines and the ambulance, and two engines from mutual aid, the OIC is in charge of determining who is to provide the MA. Frequently it is the closest available, but sometimes they do not have the equipment needed. For example, for the unhydranted portion of our first due, our two engines are all we will need for supression, the rest of the equipment is tankers (tenders) or engines with 1000gal of water or more in the tank.
              While it is a cumbersome system it works. I am not sure how we would be able to implement an alarm system here, but it would be interesting to look into. What do you think TCFire?
              Shawn M. Cecula
              Firefighter
              IACOJ Division of Fire and EMS

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Lewiston2Capt
                This sounds very similar to what we do here in Niagara County, NY. We tend to special call for the equipment we need, since each Department has different amounts of apparatus, the mutual aid needs would be different.

                For example, my FD has 2 engines, a tanker, an ambulance, and a brush truck. So a private dwelling in my first due would have both of our engines and the ambulance, and two engines from mutual aid, the OIC is in charge of determining who is to provide the MA. Frequently it is the closest available, but sometimes they do not have the equipment needed. For example, for the unhydranted portion of our first due, our two engines are all we will need for supression, the rest of the equipment is tankers (tenders) or engines with 1000gal of water or more in the tank.
                While it is a cumbersome system it works. I am not sure how we would be able to implement an alarm system here, but it would be interesting to look into. What do you think TCFire?
                With continuing decreases in manpower being a prime concern (I think that would be true in the majority of the county), I think a "box alarm" system could be an eventual solution. How far in the future, if at all, I don't know. Something like some Maryland counties use or similar, maybe? I don't think it would be difficult at all to develop and implement but it would get very political and really push the envelope for a lot of people. Parochialism is one of this areas strong suits unfortunately.

                We have all our pre-plan cards for target high-hazard locations set up with 1st, 2nd, 3rd alarms. We also have the option to special call additional companies for specific apparatus, equipment, manpower, etc. We typically go the special call route as the majority of our incidents are pretty run-of-the-mill. It's nice to have the alarm setup in your back pocket however.
                In Arduis Fidelis
                Faithful in Adversity

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by TCFire
                  With continuing decreases in manpower being a prime concern (I think that would be true in the majority of the county), I think a "box alarm" system could be an eventual solution. How far in the future, if at all, I don't know. Something like some Maryland counties use or similar, maybe? I don't think it would be difficult at all to develop and implement but it would get very political and really push the envelope for a lot of people. Parochialism is one of this areas strong suits unfortunately.

                  We have all our pre-plan cards for target high-hazard locations set up with 1st, 2nd, 3rd alarms. We also have the option to special call additional companies for specific apparatus, equipment, manpower, etc. We typically go the special call route as the majority of our incidents are pretty run-of-the-mill. It's nice to have the alarm setup in your back pocket however.
                  I would like to see those some time. We are in the process of revising the SOGs and run cards and I think it would be beneficial to begin to standardize things in case the begin to go sideways.
                  Shawn M. Cecula
                  Firefighter
                  IACOJ Division of Fire and EMS

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I think box alarms are a great thing. old ways used to have the IC calling individual companies for individual pieces of apparatus. now that is all done ahead of time. chief pulls up, sees the house, going, can immediately call for an additional 3 engines and a truck. if he or she wants, he can still special call a specific department, but it gets the ball rolling faster.

                    plus, IMO, most ICs don't care where they are getting their additional units from, as long as they get what they need and those resources arrive quickly. it's one less thing for and IC to have to worry about.
                    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

                    FF/EMT/DBP

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I know in chicago that they go by alarms. 2-11, 3-11, 4-11, 5-11. Now as for the amount of equipment and men..i don't have those stats although i'm sure there is a CFD guy on the boards who would know. Anything above a 5-11 is called a "Special" so example, at the La Salle Hi Rise fire they caleld a 5-11 plus 2 specials ( i believe it was 2). They had an engine and truck from Naperville (about 30 miles out from chicago) come in to staff the china town station.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Our alarms are upgraded either when extra companies are called to the scene, or when more are needed.
                        Take a residential structure, a 1st alarm assignment consists of 3 engines, 1 truck, and 2 battalion chiefs.
                        A second alarm would consist of 3 more engines, 1 more truck, and 2 more chiefs.
                        If the IC called for extra companies that equaled the 1st alarm assignment, then he would be notified he had a SOP 2nd alarm.
                        Bill Geyer
                        Engine 27
                        Memphis F.D.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          About the only thing I can coherently add is that when the IC determines that its real bad, he calles to "Fill the box." As well as I can understand that means it effectively doubles the immediate resources.

                          The initial alarm seems to typicaly get 2 Engines, 1 Ladder, 1 Rescue, 1 Ambulance and 1 Medic and 2 Chief Officers, the on duty EMS Supr gets in on the game too. A second alarm will double those numbers. I think. After that all hell breaks loose when the IC fills the box. I haven't actually seen it yet, but I've listened on the radio a few times.

                          Coming from a small community of about 400 residents, and a station that averages 70 calls per year, with roughly 20 hands on call, and four trucks, just the initial response here is mind-boggling for manpower.
                          If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

                          "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

                          "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

                          Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

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                          IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by VinnieB
                            Its up to the Officer in Charge to decide what he needs based on what tasks need to be done. A fully invovled PD in the middle of nowere with zero exposures generally can be handled by a couple of Engine Co. just dumping water. A fully invovled PD in the area I work, have gone as high as 5 alarms because the proximity to other buildings, which usually lite up too. Chiefs here can special call units up the next alarm. Meaning he call call 3 additional Engines or Trucks without having to go to a Second.

                            Fire on the top floor of the Big "H" apartment buildings, were fire has gotten into the cockloft are automatic second alarms. We need the manpower to stretch more lines and pull ceilings.

                            A fire in which the FAST Truck is put to work, a second alarm will be transmited.

                            On extremely hot days, multiples can be transmited for relief purposes.

                            Extended operations, multiples can be transmited...again for relief.

                            Its not just the volume of fire that dictates what a mulitple is....its manily about How many resources you need to get a job done, but that too...isn't always true. I have been to a few jobs that should have went to a Second but were held at all hands.
                            Thanks Vinne,

                            That is something I did not know.

                            Reading your explantion gives "alarms" a whole new meaning to me.

                            Also, Would you care to elaborate (or anyone else) more about the history of boxes and the current use today.

                            Recently, when I have listened to FDNY dispatch I have been blessed to be talking online with a FF from NY on a few occasions. This has been very helpful in understanding what they are saying to how things are done. For example when they say "K". But this has only been on a few occasions, so I have many questions. I may look in dispatch to find some answers as well.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              On initial dispatch of a PD fire in our area we get 2 engines and either a truck company or rescue company. If we roll up and see that it is burning we call it a working fire. At this point we can special call another eng or whatever if we need it. If we pull up and see that it is (so called All hands or that we need more equipment than what was dispatched) we call it a Major working fire. This simply means for the dispatchers to go ahead and automatically dispatch a second alarm. During the incident if we see that it is getting away from us, or it is hotter than 40 hells outside and we don't have enough manpower we can simply call for a second alarm. That probably confused everyone and if so I am sorry.
                              Real men wear kilts. www.forourfallen.org

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