Often times Ride-alongs or visitors ask why we do things the way we do, these are just a couple SOPs and General Orders to answer some of those questions.
The Kentland Volunteer Fire Department is part of Prince George’s County’s Public Safety Communication central dispatching system. Each emergency call is taken through a 911 call taker who transfers all fire department calls to a fire dispatcher who initiates a response from one and sometimes several fire stations that have been predetermined to be closest to an incident through Box Cards. Although Prince George’s County no longer has alarm pull boxes, it still uses box numbers to designate certain areas within a company’s first due. For example, if there is an apartment fire in Stratford Woods the box number would be #3302. The first two numbers signify the first due company’s area and the second two refer to an intersection in that first due. A fire on Enterprise Road and Woodmore Road would be box #46-20.
There are three different responses communications can initiate with different variations of each assignment. The first assignment, a Local Alarm, has four different variations: Ambulance local, Medical Local, Rescue Local or standard Local Alarm. The first of the four local assignments, Ambulance Local, involves the response of one ambulance for non-life threatening EMS calls. If the first and second due ambulances are unavailable then an Engine is dispatched on Ambulance Locals as a First Responder with the third due ambulance. On more urgent EMS calls a Medical Local is dispatched with a Medic Unit to administer ALS care along with the Ambulance. If the first due ambulance is unavailable on Medical Locals then an Engine is dispatched as the First Responder. On Shootings and Stabbings an Engine is always dispatched with Medic Unit and Ambulance regardless of the location or availability of EMS units.
A Rescue Local would be assigned to a vehicle accident (Personal Injury Accident-PIA) or any type of specialty rescue. Rescue Locals receive the assignment of one Engine and one Ambulance. If the road or highway that the PIA occurs on has a posted speed limit greater than forty miles per hour than a Rescue Squad is assigned to the call upon dispatch and it is classified as PIAH. If the Rescue Local is on a limited access highway then one Engine, Ambulance and Rescue Squad respond in the direction of the accident, while one Engine and Ambulance respond in the opposite direction, For instance, an accident on The Inner Loop of The Capital Beltway would receive an assignment of One Engine, Ambulance and Rescue Squad on the Inner Loop and one Engine and Ambulance on the Outer Loop. If there is somebody trapped or ejected then a Medic Unit, EMS Supervisor and a Battalion Fire Chief are dispatched on the Rescue Local with Entrapment.
A standard Local Alarm has two types of assignments: Respond and Proceed. A local alarm we respond to (lights and sirens) would be dispatched for a call requiring the response of one Engine such as a fire alarm, auto fire, brush fire, outside gas leaks etc. Local alarms we proceed to (no lights or sirens, flow of traffic) are elevators, wires down, floods etc.
The second kind of dispatching assignment Kentland responds on is Street Assignments. A Street Assignment is given to a call where there is a report of a fire out, oven fire, odor of smoke without visible smoke or inside natural gas leaks. It involves the response of two Engines, one Truck, additional special service (Truck or a Rescue Squad) and one Battalion Fire Chief. If there is a call dispatched for an odor of smoke at 7206 Landover Road, Engine Company 33 would be first due engine because Kentland is the closest firehouse to the call, if we had 2 crews we would take the Tower 33 as the first due truck, three crews we would take E332 as the second engine, four crews we would take Rescue Engine 33 as the special service, unfortunately we can’t always have four crews. For purpose of explanation we’ll say there is only one crew at 33, next up Truck 28 would be first due truck, Engine 30 as the second engine and Rescue Squad 6 as the special service. If there is a report of fire on the way to a street assignment then PSC will “fill the Box” with an additional two engines and special service.
The third method of assigning apparatus to a fire is a Box Alarm Assignment which is similar to a Street Assignment, but it adds two more engine companies and an additional Truck or Rescue Squad to the assignment. A Box is sounded when there is a report of fire in any building excluding a detached shed. Again if a call for fire in the building was reported at 7206 Landover Road, Engine Company 33 would be first due engine, next Truck 28 would be first truck, Engine 30 as the second engine, second ladder would be Truck 9, third engine would be Engine 6, fourth Engine would be Engine 38 and Rescue Squad 8 would be the third due special service.
When a company arrives with fire showing Communications will sound the Working Fire Dispatch which consists of an Engine, Special Service, Ambulance and Medic Unit as well as two safety officers.
When units are understaffed or the OIC needs a couple extra companies they may call for a Task Force Alarm, additional two engines and one special service. In the case of severe fire conditions where it is doubtful that fire units on scene will hold, a subsequent Second, Third, Fourth or Fifth alarm may be sounded. A Second Alarm and each additional alarm receive 4 engines, 2 trucks and 1 special service. After the Fifth Alarm all other requests are Special Alarms where the Incident Commander calls for more specific resources. Special Alarms may also be used if a Box Alarm has been dispatched and the chief officer sees a need for one more truck or engine, that unit can be “Specialed”.