Frequently Asked Questions

- Why do you send a fire truck along with an ambulance to a medical emergency?
Fire trucks have first responder personnel and can get help to you more quickly. The ambulance or rescue unit will provide transportation to an emergency room, depending on the nature of the call. All members of the Fernandina Beach Fire Department are certified Emergency Medical Technicians or Certified Paramedics.

- Why do firefighters break out windows and cut holes in the roof during a fire?
Firefighters ventilate smoke and super-heated gases for safety and visibility. This lets firefighters get inside the building to find and extinguish the fire, thereby reducing property damage. This also reduce the chances of a back-draft explosion.

- Why do you block traffic lanes at auto accidents (more lanes than are necessary)?
It's 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 it helps protect the victim we're trying to stabilize.

- What should I do when I see or hear an emergency vehicle approaching when I'm driving?
When you notice an approaching emergency vehicle, IMMEDIATELY pull to the nearest curb or median depending on your lane and stop. If you are approaching an intersection and see an emergency vehicle that is approaching the intersection from behind you or another direction, come to a stop preferably one or two car lengths back from the intersection. Firefighters are professionally trained for emergency response. NEVER proceed through a red traffic signal or intersection.

- Why do fire trucks with full lights and sirens go through red lights at intersections and then, after they go through, they turn off their lights and slow down?
Many times several units are dispatched to the same incident. When the first unit arrives on scene, they may assess the situation and inform the dispatcher they can handle the emergency by themselves. All other responding units are then cancelled and put back into service, ready to take another call. It is safer for the apparatus to gain control of the intersection and proceed through safely. This is safer for the public and the firefighters.

- Why do firefighters’ shop at the local grocery stores?
Firefighters work a 24-hour shift and must supply their own food. They combine their money to purchase food for meals. Often, you will see them at a grocery store in a fire engine or rescue unit. The only way the Fernandina Beach Fire Department can ensure that firefighters will respond and arrive in an average of less than 4 minutes is by using the vehicle they respond in -- with all firefighters present and available. Sometimes they receive calls while shopping for food, which means they leave directly from the grocery store and have to come back later to finish their grocery shopping and pay for their items. Often, Fernandina Beach Fire Department vehicles are at local businesses or restaurants on official business such as inspections, performing training or education, or even answering questions or complaints. There are many public services performed by your fire department on a daily basis.

- Where can I get smoke detectors for my home?
Smoke detectors may be purchased at most hardware/home improvement stores. In most cases, they can be obtained for less than $ 25.00. However, your fire department may be able to help, based on a program that, on a limited basis, provides smoke detectors to families that cannot afford them.

- How do I request a fire station tour?
Please call the Fire Department Headquarters. We will be happy to coordinate a station tour for you.

- How do I get a copy of an Incident/Investigative report?
A Fire Incident Report is created for every call which the Fernandina Beach Fire Department responds. Requests for Incident Reports can be made in writing to Fernandina Beach Fire Department Headquarters.

- What is an ISO rating?
The Insurance Services Organization (ISO) is the leading provider of statistical data supplied to insurance companies nationwide assisting them in establishing fire insurance rates. When this data is utilized, a lower ISO number defines a better premium on fire-insurance rates for both commercial and residential properties. Ratings can only be lowered by significant “measurable” improvements in the fire protection infrastructure, delivery of service methods, response times, adequate staffing, water supplies, etc.

- What is Fernandina Beach’s ISO rating?
The City of Fernandina Beach has a current ISO (Insurance Services Organization) rating of 3 and 3X. These ratings vary depending on the location of your property. For additional information on the rating, you can contact Fire Headquarters.

- Can I burn leaves and/or trash in my yard?
Open burning of any trash, lumber, leaves, straw, or other combustible materials is not allowed in the City.

- What is the job of a Firefighter?
Firefighting involves extremely hard, skilled physical work, and firefighters must be able to think quickly and operate effectively in high-pressure emergency situations. Continuous training and education are required throughout their careers to keep them up to date on the newest technologies and latest fire suppression and rescue methods. Training in the fire service encompasses many subjects, such as building construction, emergency medical procedures, hazardous materials, technical rescue, fire prevention, public education, marine rescue and community relations. Firefighters must have strong social skills, and the ability to think and communicate clearly in very stressful situations.

- How much does the firefighting gear weigh?
Firefighters must carry an array of specialized tools and equipment that can weigh over 70 lbs., plus the breathing apparatus that weighs 40 lbs.

- My smoke detector chirps occasionally, what is wrong?
If this is a battery powered detector, a chirp approximately once a minute typically indicates a low battery. Try replacing the battery, if that does not solve the problem replace the detector. Smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years, and batteries should be replaced when daylight savings time changes.

- My smoke detector goes off for no reason, but only for a few seconds, what could be wrong?
This may be caused by dust or a small insect in the sensing part of the detector. Try vacuuming the outside of the detector to remove dust or pests that may have accumulated on the inside of the detector. If this does not solve the problem, replace the detector. If ever in doubt, call us for additional information.

- What is the difference between an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and a Paramedic?
An EMT is trained in Basic Life Support (BLS) skills such as assessment, triage and treatment of medical and trauma patients, control of bleeding, Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), the use of Automatic External Defibrillator’s (AED’s), and the delivery of oxygen. A Paramedic is trained beyond the BLS level to the ALS (Advanced Life Support) level to include advanced skills such as cardiac rhythm interpretation, the application of an external cardiac pacemaker, endotracheal intubation (the placement of a breathing tube), Intravenous (IV) and Intraosseous (IO – placement of needle into bone marrow) fluid therapy, as well as the ability to administer various cardiac, respiratory and pain medications. Your Fire Department is staffed by both types of trained personnel.

- How do I become a Florida Certified Firefighter?
For information on becoming a certified Florida Firefighter, please contact the Bureau of Fire Standards and Training at the Florida State Fire College in Ocala, Florida.

- How do I become a Florida Certified EMT/Paramedic?
For information on becoming a certified EMT/Paramedic in Florida, please contact the Florida Department of Health, Bureau of Emergency Medical Services in Tallahassee.

- Who do I contact for a broken or leaking fire hydrant?
Leaking or broken hydrants should be reported to the Fernandina Beach Utilities Department. Also, please note, you cannot paint hydrants yourself. If too much paint is applied, firefighters may not be able to attach their equipment to it in an emergency.