Fire Department FAQ's
1. Question: What is the difference between a Fire Engine and a Fire Truck?
Answer: Since Fire Engines and Fire Trucks perform significantly different functions at a fire scene, they are very different. Fire engines are equipped with hoses and water so that personnel can aggressively fight the fire. Fire Trucks are like the firefighter's tool box. They carry ladders, rescue equipment and other tools to enable personnel to support firefighting and/or rescue activities. Newport Beach Fire Department’s Truck Companies boast tools, equipment and a 100’ aerial ladder assigned to the Fashion Island fire station and an 85' aerial ladder assigned to the Lido Station. The NBFD has 8 front line fire engines and two front line truck companies fully staffed twenty-four hours per day.
2. Question: What kind of shifts do firefighters work?
Answer: Firefighters across the U.S. work many different schedules. Some fire department safety employees work 8, 12 or 24-hour shifts. The Newport Beach Fire Department works a 48-hour shift cycle. That means we work two 24-hour shifts back-to-back. For example, “A” Shift comes to work at 7:30 AM on Monday and relinquishes duty at 7:30 AM on Wednesday to the next crew. Having three shifts, A, B and C, each day of the month is covered, each shift having worked 10 shifts per month (this equates to a 56-hour work week)
The 24 hours shift model is used for
several reasons. The most
important is because it is more cost effective. The Fire Department is staffed 24 hours/ day, 365 days/year. The 24 hour shift (more
specifically the 56 hour work week) allows the City, under Federal Law, to pay
firefighters straight time for the full 56 hours, rather than the standard 40
hours that is required under the traditional 40 hour/week work schedule. If the City were to move to a standard
40/week schedule it would require an increase in personnel by approximately 1/3
in order to continue adequate coverage for the safety of the community. This would equate to an additional 30+
3. Question: Are all firefighters paramedics?
Answer: Not all firefighters in the NBFD are Paramedics. However, all firefighters in the NBFD are Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s). A Paramedic certified firefighter is a more specialized EMT. Also called an EMT-P (Paramedic), these firefighters have been through much more intensive training than an EMT. Although an EMT is required to attend a great amount of training, a Paramedic continues his training, spending an additional six months of intensive training. This training includes classroom work, an emergency room rotation series, an OB/GYN (delivery room) rotation and an internship on a working Paramedic Engine or Rescue unit. The candidate must pass all exams and test with an 80% or better score.
In the NBFD, Paramedic/Firefighters work in teams of two on three Rescue Ambulances located in Corona Del Mar (Station 5), Fashion Island (Station 3) and Lido Peninsula (Station 2). We also have one Paramedic per shift assigned to Engine 68 in Newport Coast and an additional Paramedic
assigned to the ladder truck at the Lido station. These additional Paramedics are stationed in these locations
due to call volume and extended ETA’s of Paramedics into the Newport Coast area
and down coast in the Crystal Heights area.
4. Question: Why does a fire engine or truck come to medical calls and not just the paramedics?
Answer: The Newport Beach Fire Department (and most Southern California municipal fire departments) responds both a Paramedic Ambulance and a Fire Engine or Truck to each request for medical service. The main reason for this response is to provide you and your
loved ones with the highest level of medical care possible. The Newport Beach Fire
Department’s EMS system is designed to be the first aspect of the Emergency
Room doctor’s treatment plan. Our
protocols are designed by doctors from hospitals all over Orange County,
including Hoag Hospital. Each person on these units has a list of tasks that need to be performed during the emergency. For example, once the units arrive at the scene, this is what they are doing:
Paramedic #1 (Patient Care): This paramedic establishes contact with the patient, begins to assess the medical problem and formulates a treatment plan based on those findings. This
plan is the result of the protocols established by Emergency Room doctors. Many times, the treatment you are
receiving in the field is the same treatment you would be receiving if you were
in the actual emergency room.
Those times when you are not it is because the nature of your medical
emergency is outside a Paramedic’s scope of practice or you require a medical
intervention that can only be received in a hospital, such as the need for surgery
or a cath-lab because of a cardiac condition. Under these circumstances, our responsibility is to
stabilize the patient and transport them to the hospital as quickly as is
Paramedic #2 (Radio Medic): This paramedic records the information based on the findings of paramedic #1, contacts the Base Hospital (usually Hoag Hospital) and creates a link between the paramedics and the attending emergency physician. This paramedic also performs advanced airway techniques as required during the emergency.
Firefighter: The firefighter from the engine or truck company performs basic life support measures such as: Taking vital signs, applying oxygen therapy, splinting and bleeding control. He or she is also responsible for assisting the engineer with moving the patient to the gurney and ambulance.
Engineer: The engineer formulates a plan to move the patient from where we first encounter them to the gurney and ambulance. This is sometimes the most
difficult aspect of operating in the field. The
engineer then retrieves the gurney and any other equipment needed for
treatment. This allows the treatment team to stay with the patient at all
Captain: The Captain on the scene acts as the liaison between concerned family members and the treatment team. He or she will keep the family updated on our treatment and explain why we are performing certain treatments. The Captain makes phone calls to other family members as requested by the patient. The Captain is also
responsible for the safety of the crew.
Since we operate in every environment, he must maintain awareness of the
scene, allowing the treatment team to concentrate on the patient.
Note: On very serious medical or trauma responses, an additional company may be added for more assistance. This is usually due to the amount of additional personnel needed for performing Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (at least two personnel), driving the ambulance to the hospital (with paramedics and two firefighters in the back of the ambulance treating the patient) and clean-up at the scene, so family members do not have to return home to find debris left behind from the treatment event.
5. Question: What does that guy in the back of the big fire truck do?
Answer: In Newport Beach, we staff two ladder trucks, located at the Fashion Island fire station and the Lido Peninsula firehouse. Due to the small streets in many areas of our jurisdiction, a very maneuverable truck company is required. These “tiller” trucks have a driver in the back of the truck who controls the rear axle, thus making the long apparatus capable of navigating the small streets.
6. Question: Does it cost money to call the fire department?
Answer: The Newport Beach Fire Department does charge for responses to Fire or Rescue services where medical services are provided. Most fire and EMS departments now charge for such services to recover the costs of medication, supplies and fuel used during the response and transport. To assist with some of these costs, the NBFD offers a program called “Fire Medics”. Being a member of the “Fire
Medics” program will significantly
reduce the cost of treatment and transport services to the resident.
This program will also cover a residents guest when we respond to their
home. More information on our
Fire Medics program can be found HERE.
7. Question: What is the rank structure in the fire department?
Answer: The rank structure in the Newport Beach Fire Department is very similar to the rank structure of the military. Here is how our department’s hierarchy is designed:
Fire Operations Chief
Fire Division Chief (includes the Training Chief & Fire Marshal)
Fire Battalion Chief
8. Question: Why does the whole engine company have to go to the store to shop for food?
Answer: The reason a whole company goes to the grocery store to shop is because the personnel on each unit must stay together in case of an emergency. If only one member went to the store to shop for our meals, response would be significantly delayed. This way the company can remain available for emergencies at all times.
9. Question: Does the City of Newport Beach pay for our meals at the station?
Answer: No. The firefighters individually contribute their own money each shift to a “chow fund” that is used to purchase groceries for meals.
10. Question: What happens when there is a big fire in Newport Beach? Who covers the city while you’re busy at the fire?
Answer: All Orange County fire agencies operate under an agreement that we refer to as “Automatic Aid”. This means, when NBFD units are busy on an incident, the cities that border us (Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach and Orange County Fire Authority) will immediately respond to assist us with coverage and additional emergencies that may occur within Newport Beach.
11. Question: What does the Fire Department do during the day when not on emergency calls?
Answer: Although responding to emergency calls for service is our priority, the NBFD performs several additional functions during our workday. Here are some examples of what we provide for our community:
Fire Inspections: It is the goal of the NBFD to keep your business and schools safe from fire or accidents! Each fire company has a comprehensive list of business fire inspections to complete within their respective jurisdiction.
Building Pre-Planning: The NBFD is extremely pro-active. Our fire units are constantly monitoring new construction and renovations to already established structures. Detailed maps are formulated by fire personnel and the fire prevention office and they are updated quarterly. These maps assist us during emergencies in locating exits, access for apparatus, safety hazards to firefighters, utility controls and water sources.
School Programs & Public Education: All fire units are active in teaching our young citizens how to prevent fires and remain safe. Frequent visits to the schools to educate students on fire safety and assist with fire drills are a very common activity during non-emergency times.
State and County Mandated Training: Your firefighters are very well trained. The challenges in response that the modern fire service faces requires our personnel to attend training in many areas including: new firefighting tactics, hazardous materials, medical protocols and certification maintenance, health and fitness, response to terrorism, fire cause determination, vehicle extrication, new equipment training, etc.
Fire Apparatus and Fire Station Maintenance: The way we maintain YOUR fire apparatus and stations is important to us. Routine maintenance and equipment checks are performed to assure that this equipment is ready for every response!
12. Question: Do firefighters get to sleep at the firehouse?
Answer: Yes, firefighters are allowed to sleep at the fire station between the hours of 8:00 PM and 7:00 AM. Requests for emergency services are frequent during the night and early morning hours in our city. It is imperative that your firefighters are rested to provide the best service possible.
Do you have a question that we have not answered? Please send us an
We would love to hear from you and address any concerns you may have.