Frequently Asked Questions About the Fire Department

We have received a few questions about terms seen in the News Paper, Television or the City Webpage. I hope these answer your questions, and we are happy to answer any questions you may have.

Q - How do you determine how long it takes to declare a fire under control? 
A - The times you see here for a fire under control, or a person extricated from a car accident, starts at the time of initial dispatch and ends when the incident commander declares the incident under control. Companies may still be working on scene overhauling or cleaning up for a longer time. 
Q - How many firefighters are working per shift at A typical fire truck?  
A - There are 3 firefighters and 1 officer working on each company per shift.
Q - I see the term "R.I.C." used alot. What does it mean?
A - It stands for Rapid Intervention Crew. It refers to a company sent on a fire call that will stand by outside the structure to be ready to rescue firefighters inside if they become trapped or lost. They are allowed to do some outside tasks, but must be ready to enter at all times. They also work closely with the safety officer. 
 Q - What is a "restricted alarm?"  
 A - A restricted alarm is declared when there is a working fire (or any incident that requires use of the channel 2 without interruption). It secures "channel 2" on the radio for the companies working the fire. All other calls in the city would then stay on channel 1, until the restricted alarm is lifted. 
Q - When I see a story that says a fire was under control in 20 minutes, does that mean that's the entire time fire companies are there? 
A - No. It simply means that the fire itself is controlled. Companies will remain on scene for what ever time it takes, making sure there is no hidden fire anywhere, and completing overhaul and salvage. Areas between walls and ceilings/floors must be opened up to check for hidden fire, all burned materials and debris from opening the areas must be removed, and companies will try to preserve or "salvage" as much unaffected property as possible. Companies can be on scene from 1.5 hours to several hours.  
Q - I see Rescue 11 listed on most of the fires. Are they the only rescue in the city? 
A - Yes. They respond to all working fires, Haz-Mat calls, rope rescues, accidents with someone trapped, confined space rescues, and water rescues. If they are tied up on a call, and another fire comes in, an extra company will be sent in their place. If they are at a fire, and a technical rescue or Haz-Mat incident comes in, they can be freed up(if possible) to respond.
Q - What does a "Deputy Chief" do?  
A - The Deputy Chief is basically the "shift commander" on duty. They respond to all working fires and will assume command from the Battalion Chief on scene. The Battalion Chief will then be in charge of "operations." On each shift, there is one Deputy Chief and two Battalion Chiefs working city wide.
Q - Who are the "Protectives?" 
A - The Protectives program is a volunteer organization which includes a staff of four paid firefighters who act as drivers. With a City fire vehicle, the Protectives respond to fires with the responsibilities to safeguard and salvage property. Tarpaulins, fans, pumps and other equipment are used to reduce smoke and water damage. When you see photos or videos from fire scenes, the Protectives are wearing red helmets. For more information, go to their web site,  
Q - What do the different color helmets firefighters wear mean?  
A - Firefighters wear black helmets, Captains and Lieutenants wear yellow, and chief officers wear white helmets. The Protectives wear red helmets.  
Q - Why do I see fire companies and ambulances respond to a location, and stay on the trucks until police arrive?  
A - On some calls, it's necessary to "stage" away from an address until the police can respond and "secure" the scene so fire and ambulance crews can safely do their job. This would include calls such as assaults and etc, where a "suspect" may still be at or near the scene and pose a threat to responders, or interfere with them helping someone.  
Q - Where do the other companies I see listed in reports on the home page respond from?  
A - There are 15 firehouses strategically located around the city, housing 13 engine companies, 6 truck companies, 1 heavy rescue, 2 Haz-Mat rigs, 2 special ops rigs, 2 battalion chiefs, 1 safety officer, 1 deputy chief and The Protectives.
Q - Does EMS (Emergency Medical Service) make up a lot of the RFD's calls and do you have special training for EMS?  
A - Currently, EMS makes up approximately 50% of the calls we respond to. EMS training is ongoing (as is all fire training) and over 80% of Rochester's firefighters are trained to at least NY State EMT Basic level. EMTs & Certified First Responders have to recertify with the State of NY every 3 years. All companies carry EMS equipment that includes defibrillators, first aid supplies, spinal immobilization equipment, oxygen equipment, airways, splints, and etc. We are the designated EMS first responding agency and patient care advocates.  
Q - How many calls does the fire department respond to in a year?  
A - The number of calls varies each year. In 2009, The RFD responded to just over 30,000 calls.