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How Do I reach someone in an emergency?

  • Call 911!

Why do so many apparatus respond to simple incidents?

  • Fire Department units are dispatched according to information received by the 9-1-1 operator. The Sonoma Valley Fire District thinks worst case scenario when they respond to citizens in need of help. In other words, the firefighters are prepared to deal with the worst that could happen. They are fast, well-trained, and professional in their response. A GPS computer selects the closest unit to respond to an incident. The first unit on the scene may not be an advanced life support unit (a unit with paramedics); therefore, such a unit will also be responding. There may be several fire department vehicles on the scene for what appears to be a "simple" incident. However, in emergency services we have learned that if we assume something is "simple," we can be terribly mistaken. We respond rapidly and are prepared to encounter the worst. The winner in these situations will always be the citizen who needs help.

How come I see fire trucks with full lights and sirens go through a red light at intersections and then, after they go through, they turn off their lights and slow down?

  • As explained in the previous answer, sometimes several units are dispatched to the same incident. The first unit may have arrived on the scene, surveyed the situation, and informed the dispatcher that the situation was under control. All other responding units were cancelled and put back into service, ready to take another call. Most likely, when you see an emergency vehicle go "Code 3" (lights and siren) through an intersection and then slow down and turn the emergency lights off, they have been cancelled from the call they were going on.

Why do I see firefighters cutting holes in the roof of a building on fire?

  • This is called "venting the roof." There are two basic reasons for this practice. Dangerous gases and dark smoke accumulate in a burning building. It is impossible for firefighters to see in such an environment. When a hole is made in the roof because the building is "vented," the smoke and gases escape because heat and smoke rise. It makes it much easier for the firefighters in the building to see. It also reduces the possibilities of backdraft and flashover. Another reason for venting the roof is to see how far the fire has progressed. One of the fastest avenues through which fires spread is the attic. Heat and smoke rise into the attic where the fire can move quickly. Firefighters may go ahead of the fire on a roof, cut holes to access the attic and stop the fire from spreading through the attic.

Why do you block traffic lanes at auto accidents—more lanes than are necessary?

  • We block traffic lanes for the safety of our personnel and our patients. Blocking extra lanes keep our personnel safe when they go back to our apparatus to get more equipment and help protect the victim we are trying to stabilize.

Why do firefighters care if you drive over fire hose?

  • Firefighters are very much concerned about running over fire hoses because the hose can be damaged and any firefighter at the end of a nozzle will have the water interrupted and possibly cause injury or death. (THE FIRE HOSE IS THE LIFELINE OF A FIREFIGHTER WHEN FIGHTING A FIRE.)

Why do firefighters shop at the local grocery stores?

  • Firefighters are like everyone else. We need to eat. We work a 48-hour shiftS and must supply our own food. We combine our personal money to purchase the food for our meals.
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