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Time is critical in a medical emergency. Due to the number of Fire Engines and the strategic locations of our Fire Stations, our Fire Engines can typically get to an emergency incident quicker than one of our medic units. All Fire Engines are staffed with personnel certified as emergency medical technicians and many are staffed with personnel certified as paramedics. Engines have also been equipped with medical supplies and equipment, such as automatic defibrillators.
Fire Department units are dispatched according to information received by the 9-1-1 operator. A computer selects the closest unit to respond to an incident. The fire department’s philosophy is to get firefighters to the emergency as soon as possible, prepared to encounter the worst. This will occur via a fire engine or fire truck. In the event that an injured or ill person needs continuous medical treatment, an ambulance is dispatched so that the department can provide the highest level of emergency medical care from the scene of the incident all the way to the emergency room physicians.
As a fire burns, it moves in all directions and grows very fast. Dangerous gases and dark smoke accumulate and, unlike the movie versions of fires, it is impossible for firefighters to see and search for trapped victims in such an environment. In fact, the super-heated gases and toxic smoke are usually the cause of fatalities when people become trapped inside of a burning building. Breaking windows and cutting holes in the roof is called ventilation and there are many reasons why firefighters do this. It slows the fire’s growth; it helps get rid of the dark smoke that makes it hard for firefighters to see where they are going and it helps the firefighters fight the fire more quickly, improving the ability to save lives and property. Another reason for venting the roof is to stop the horizontal spread of fire throughout a building and direct the heat and flames in a vertical fashion. Firefighters can then get ahead of the fire on a roof, cut holes above the fire and stop the spread of the fire to minimize damage.
This is done so that the fire department is sure that the fire is completely out and that there is nothing burning inside the walls or in other hidden places.