Frequently Asked Questions
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Fire Department Procedures (11)
Fire Department units are dispatched according to information received by the 9-1-1 operator. Firefighters are prepared to deal with the worst that could happen. Discovering that we need more units once we arrive is often too late. We have learned from experience that it’s better to have too much help than not enough.
Because searching for victims and extinguishing the fire requires so much manpower, on the initial response our department provides as much manpower as possible and available.
A structure fire requires a number of people to do all the assigned tasks. Firefighting teams are assigned certain responsibilities such as fire extinguishing, search and rescue, ventilation, salvage, safety, accountability and rapid intervention teams when firefighters become trapped or injured.
Why does the Fire Department send a ladder truck on motor vehicle accidents and other first aid calls?
The Boardman Fire Department has three stations. There is a pumper truck in the Lockwood and Shields Station, there is a pumper truck with a short ladder on top at the South Ave. Station, and the main fire station on Boardman-Poland Rd. has a pumper truck and a ladder/aerial truck. The Fire Department’s first goal is to send the closest truck to a medical emergency so as to provide care to a victim as soon as possible. When we are able to make a choice between a pumper truck and the larger ladder truck, the smaller truck is sent. From time to time, the call requires additional manpower and the ladder truck may be sent, or it will be sent when the pumper truck is tied up on another serious call.
As for automobile accidents, they often present other hazards such as potential fire, ruptured fuel tanks, and/or the presence of hazardous materials. Also, Boardman firefighters are trained First Responders. Therefore, they can assist with patient care or assist in extricating (removing) trapped occupants of the vehicle.
Firefighters are trained as First Responders. Our primary mission is to save lives and alleviate suffering. Due to the strategic location of Boardman’s three Fire Stations throughout the township, we can arrive quickly and begin emergency medical treatment or life saving techniques such as CPR and/or use cardiac defibrillators. Firefighters arrive on the scene quickly and stabilize the patient’s medical condition. Presently, the Boardman Fire Department does not provide ambulance services; therefore, a private ambulance company arrives later to provide transport to the hospital.
Our firefighters must be ready to respond to a fire in progress quickly. We take our trucks out on medical calls because a fire alarm may be turned in at any moment. If firefighters were out in another vehicle, they would have to drive back to the fire station to man a fire truck, thus losing precious minutes of response time. If they’re with the truck, they can proceed directly to the fire.
Firefighters and officers who are on duty can easily handle many smaller fires. The Fire Chief will usually not respond to these; however, the Fire Chief will respond to major emergencies to assist the Officer in Charge with the management of the incident.
The type of fire equipment sent on what type of emergency is usually determined by the Officer in Charge. Conventional training advises to send more equipment rather than less until an on-scene investigation determines the exact equipment and manpower necessary.
A tone out alert in Boardman Fire Department means that the emergency being responded to requires more manpower than is on duty. A routine house fire in Boardman may require all off- duty and part-paid firefighters be called to assist the on-duty firefighters. There is no guarantee, however, that enough firefighters will be available to quickly extinguish a serious fire, even though off-duty personnel and part-paid firefighters have been “Toned Out.” In these circumstances, the Officer in Charge may request one or more nearby fire departments to also respond as part of a “Mutual Aid” agreement.
The Boardman Fire Department handles emergencies in areas other than Boardman through what is normally referred to as Mutual Aid. Our department has mutual aid agreements with 21 area fire departments. When any of these fire departments requests assistance, we provide it to the best of our ability. Likewise when our department needs assistance, we will call on these same departments for help.
This is called “venting the roof.” There are two basic reasons for this practice. Dangerous gases and dark smoke accumulate in a burning building. Unlike the movie versions of fires, 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.
Dangerous superheated gases need to be vented to allow firefighters to safely and quickly rescue trapped occupants and extinguish the fire. Venting the window (horizontal ventilation) of a room that is on fire, actually helps to contain the fire within that room of origin. Otherwise heated gases spread throughout the inside of the house. Breaking the window really prevents a great deal more damage than it appears to cause. Replacing broken glass is much less expensive than repairing structural damage from the fire.
Firefighters make holes in walls to check for fire extensions after the main body of fire has been extinguished. Also when a fire is located behind the wall, the wall must be opened to extinguish the fire and check properly for any fire extension. Occasionally firefighters must make holes in walls to make an emergency exit from a life-threatening environment when the more conventional means of egress have been rendered inaccessible.
The Fire Department on the Road (3)
When an emergency vehicle is approaching while I’m driving, should I always pull over to the right and stop?
State laws — and common sense — dictate that vehicles yield to emergency vehicles that are operating their emergency lights and siren. Emergency vehicle drivers are taught to pass on the left whenever possible when responding in an emergency mode. When it’s safe, slow down, pull over to the right and stop. However, there are circumstances where that may not be possible (e.g., if you car is already stopped, and you don’t have anywhere to pull over). Simply stay put until the emergency vehicle goes around you. If you are blocking the route of the emergency vehicle, and you are able to pull ahead and over into a clear area, use your turn signal to indicate your intentions and proceed at a safe speed. Never slam on the brakes and stop in the middle of the road when you see apparatus approaching. Make no sudden moves. If an emergency vehicle is approaching from the opposite direction, you should pull over and stop. You have no idea if they are proceeding down the road, or are planning on turning into a driveway or intersection right in front of you. You are not required to slow down or pull over for emergency vehicles that are responding in the opposite direction on a divided freeway or highway. Do not tailgate, “draft,” or follow a responding apparatus closely. Not only is this illegal, you run the risk of collision as vehicles pull back out into traffic after the emergency vehicle goes by.
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?
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.
I have noticed the signal lights by the fire station abruptly changing when the trucks roll out. Why is this?
This is a signal that an emergency vehicle is approaching and has activated a traffic control system, which systematically and safely changes the traffic signal to provide a “green” light for approaching emergency vehicles. The system is usually set so that the signal is received well in advance of the emergency vehicle’s arrival. It does systematically cycle through and doesn’t just change the opposing traffic’s signal without warning. This allows the intersection to clear and helps improve the responses to emergencies through intersections.
Fire Department Community Services (3)
Yes. For more information, see this page. To inquire about upcoming classes, call the Main Fire Station at 330-726-4199.
Due to recent budgetary constraints, car seat installations and inspections are not available at this time.
Please call Akron Children’s Hospital’s Community Outreach Program: (330) 729-9254.
The Fire Department does not service fire extinguishers. There are many fire extinguisher companies in the telephone book that have the proper equipment to service them.
The Life of a Firefighter (8)
Boardman Firefighters receive State of Ohio-mandated recruit firefighter training at the Ohio Fire Academy in Columbus. After recruit training Boardman, Firefighters receive on-the-job training from senior firefighters and the officers at the Boardman Fire Department.
Various training seminars at the local, county, state and national level are regularly available and Boardman Firefighters are encouraged to attend with expenses paid for by Boardman Township.
Also, ongoing in-service training is provided on a weekly basis from 9:30 a.m – 11:30 a.m. on each of the three operating shifts. However, these training periods, while effective, are subject to unforeseen interruptions such as emergency responses, bad weather and various other commitments that develop time to time.
Most Township positions are filled through a competitive testing process. Police Officer and Firefighter positions are filled through a Civil Service Commission testing process. The Commissions test, interview and create eligible lists for each position. Vacant positions are filled from these eligible lists for two-year time periods. See our Career Page for more information.
The number of firefighters varies according to the amount of manpower available each day. There will be two to three firefighters per apparatus 24 hours a day.
The typical firefighter works an average of 56 hours per week. This is accomplished by working 24 hours on duty and 48 hours off duty. This schedule factors out to be 2,912 hours per year.
A day at the firehouse consists of a 24-hour tour of duty, which begins at 0800 roll call.
Generally, a firefighter must remain with his/her crew the entire tour and “live” at the firehouse. One of the firefighters at each station is designated the “cook” and collects approximately $10 from each firefighter for the “mess.” The crew goes to the supermarket and buys enough groceries for the firefighters for that day.
Working together, the rest of the crew keeps the firehouse clean and the apparatus in good working condition. There are other duties such as fire prevention inspections, hose tests, hydrant inspections and in-service training.
Firefighters spend some time during every shift training in some way. This may consist of studying maps or driving streets. There are structured training sessions covering the vast scope of knowledge which firefighters must keep up to date. Subjects include: Hazardous Materials, Building Construction, Electrical Emergencies, River Rescue, Basic Trauma Life Support, Hose Lays, Ladder Evolutions, Pump Operations, Communications, etc.
While all these routine duties are being accomplished, firefighters must be prepared to drop everything and respond at a moment’s notice to a wide variety of emergency situations. A typical day might include a few fire alarms, a couple of auto accidents, several medical emergencies and a house fire. After 10 p.m., the firefighters are permitted to lie down and catch a series of “cat naps” between emergency runs over the course of the night.
A Ladder Company usually is assigned and equipped to perform ventilation, forcible entry search and rescue, and overhaul.
On smaller fire departments, firefighters have a less specific job description, but the duties of a Ladder Company must still be performed. These duties may vary depending on the needs determined by the Officer-in-Charge (OIC). All firefighters who arrive at a fire scene must be prepared to do any job necessary to save lives or property.
Jobs at a fire scene are different for an Engine Company, which is normally primarily concerned with locating and extinguishing the fire.
Other than hose and tank water, the various pieces of apparatus carry equipment pertinent to their specific role at the fire scene. Because pumpers carry water and hose, they are limited as to how much other equipment they can carry. But at minimum you will find nozzles, axes and air packs for breathing. Ladder trucks normally carry a variety of ground ladders, forcible entry tools, salvage covers, and large hydraulic rescue tools, which cannot be stored on smaller trucks. Rescue trucks also carry other tools (e.g., large ventilation fans and various hand tools) that are necessary at a fire scene but impractical for storage on smaller trucks.
Miscellaneous Questions (4)
- Station 71, 7440 Market Street
- Station 73, 1200 Shields Rd
- Station 74, 6169 South Ave
The first fire department was organized in 1923. This was a volunteer organization brought about by civic minded men as they realized the need for such a firefighting unit after many unfortunate house fires. These men met in the boiler room of the old brick school house which is now part of Center Middle School. Even the fire chief, Merle Gifford, was a volunteer. The fire siren was placed on top of Station 71 after the station was completed in 1927.
In the days before firehouses even existed, dalmatians were bred and trained for the specific purpose of preventing highway robbery. Dalmatians, or “coach dogs,” ran alongside of horse-drawn stagecoaches, and acted as a buffers and as bodyguards to ward off robbers, also known as highwaymen, who attempted to ambush the carriages and, quite literally, lighten their loads.
When horse-drawn fire engines arrived on the scene, firemen naturally chose dalmatians to assist them, since the breed was accustomed to running long distances, and to being around horses. Their bright white coats, covered with large black spots, made them a highly visible warning sign to bystanders and onlookers, as the dogs ran ahead of, and cleared the path for, fire engines racing towards a fire.
With technological advancement, horse-drawn fire engines became obsolete, and the need for dalmatians to clear the way for fire engines no longer existed. People knew better than to get in the way of motorized fire engines speeding towards them with blaring sirens!
Fortunately, firefighters did not fire the gentle dalmatian from his position in the department. Instead, they honored him, by adopting the breed as the official firehouse mascot. The tradition continues to this day, and dalmatians can still be spotted at some fire stations.
If you can’t remain in your home after a fire, first consult your homeowner’s insurance policy and agent. Most policies may provide for temporary housing while repairs are being made. If no provision for temporary housing is available, the Red Cross or Salvation Army provides assistance usually if no other family members can assist.