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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

The following summarized the most frequently asked questions by the citizens about the Fire Department.

Question: How do I contact the Fire Department?
Answer: Norwalk Fire Department Headquarters, Station 2
100 Fairfield Ave
Norwalk, CT 06854
(203) 854-0202

Question: How many fire stations does the Norwalk have?
Answer: Norwalk has six fire stations. The City of Norwalk Fire Department operates 5 stations with full-time firefighters and the Rowayton’s 6 th Taxing District has a Volunteer Fire Station which covers fire calls in Rowayton.

Question: How many employees does the Norwalk Fire Department employ?
Answer: The fire department has 141 employees including firefighters, fire inspection, front office, and mechanics.

Question: How do I become a firefighter?
Answer: The Norwalk Fire Department generally accepts applications every two years for the position of firefighter. Once an application date has been set. The applications may be picked up at Fire Headquarters. Applications tend to come out in the fall of even years.

The process of becoming a firefighter involves the following phases: Application, Written Testing, Physical Agility Testing, Oral Interviews. This creates a list of potential hires.

During the process the number of applicants will be wittled down to a list of approximately 50 people. Applicants are scored during the process, creating a final ranking. The list then is good for approximately two years. As openings occur due to retirements, promotions or injuries, the department hires candidates starting with the highest ranked and working down the list. Should no openings occur or the list not advance the list will expire and a new round of application and testing will begin.

Question: How many alarms does the Fire Department respond to every day?
Answer: The Norwalk Fire Department responded to 6257 calls in 2017 and 7133 calls in 2018. While no two days are a like we generally respond city wide to an average of 17 calls a day. A large part of our increase of calls is the growing number of Medical calls that we are responding to now.

Question: Why do firehouses have brass poles and how many stations in Norwalk have them?
Answer: Fire stations have brass poles to cut down on the amount of time it takes to get on the fire truck from the second floor. It is about ten times faster to "slide the pole" than to take conventional stairs. This advantage is not without its draw backs however. The major drawback is safety; the pole can be very dangerous. The fire pole is essentially a hole in the floor with a pipe in it to grab as you fall. If you grip the pole improperly or not tight enough your descent can be rather rapid. (32 feet per second) The rapid descent it not really the problem, it's that sudden stop at the bottom. 

Most of the "old" firehouses had poles when they were built. Norwalk's Station 2 (3 poles) and Station 3 (1 pole) have poles that are still used today. Due to recent safety concerns however most new firehouses are built on a single floor plan to alleviate the need for a pole.

Question: Why does a fire engine respond to medical emergencies?
Answer: The Norwalk Fire Department responds to Emergency Medical Calls as part of the Cities plan to provide the highest level of care to the citizens of Norwalk. The Norwalk Fire Department is considered supplemental responders and responds to calls when both the ambulance and/or police department (primary responders) are unavailable or will be delayed.

Upon taking a 9-1-1 call a dispatcher at the Police Department will notify an Ambulance from the hospital and determine whether any other units should be sent. Reasons for sending the fire department are usually life threatening situations were a quick response is necessary. Since the fire department generally can reach the citizens of Norwalk faster due to having stations throughout Norwalk. We respond and provide basic level care until the ambulance and paramedic can take over.

Question: Why do so many fire apparatus respond to simple incidents?
Answer: Fire Department units are dispatched according to information received by the 9-1-1 operator. The Norwalk Fire Department dispatch plans for apparatus assumes the worst when they respond to citizens in need of help. In other words, the firefighters are prepared to deal with the worst that could happen. Our firefighters are well-trained and pleasant in their response.

Our Fire Department dispatchers consult a computer which selects the closest unit(s) to respond to an incident. The fire department's philosophy is to get our firefighters there as soon as possible. This will be either an engine company or a ladder truck company. In preparation for the worse case scenario, multiple units may be dispatched as well.

The first unit on the scene may not be an advanced life support unit (a unit with paramedics) such as an ambulance from the hospital, rather it might be a fire truck with trained Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) or Medical Response Technicians (MRTs) who will provide basic life safety care until the paramedic and ambulance arrives.

There may be many fire department vehicles on the scene for what appears to be a "simple" incident. However, in emergency services we have learned that if we assume something is "simple," we mistaken when conditions change. We respond as fast and as safely as we can, prepared to encounter the worst. The winner in these situations will always be the citizen who needs help.

Question: What does a 2nd and 3rd alarm mean?
Answer: The terms, second and third alarm, are used by the fire department to indicate the "size" of the work force needed to contain a fire or other emergency situation. A second or greater alarm is a call for more firefighters and/or equipment. The officer in charge of the fire will call for a greater alarm anytime he feels scene is lacking in either manpower or equipment. Generally speaking a second alarm brings twice the amount of firefighters and equipment sent on the initial call or "first alarm." 

Question: 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?
Answer: Sometimes several units are dispatched to the same incident when the first unit arrives on the scene, and has surveyed the situation; they might have informed the dispatcher that the situation was under control. All other responding units were then cancelled and put back into service, ready to take another call.

Most likely, when you see an emergency vehicle going 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.

Question: Is it always necessary to yield the right-of-way to a fire truck or ambulance?
Answer: State Law requires that emergency vehicles operating with lights and sirens be given the right of way. Specifically the language in Public Act No. 01-59 section e states ‘ Upon the immediate approach of an emergency vehicle making use of such an audible warning signal device and such visible flashing or revolving lights or of any state or local police vehicle properly and lawfully making use of an audible warning signal device only, the operator of every other vehicle in the immediate vicinity shall immediately drive to a position parallel to, and as close as possible to, the right-hand edge or curb of the roadway clear of any intersection and shall stop and remain in such position until the emergency vehicle has passed, except when otherwise directed by a state or local police officer or fireman as provided in section 7-313a.’

Question:Was it really necessary to break the windows and put holes in the roof?
Answer: As a fire burns, it moves upward, then outward. Removing windows and cutting holes in the roof, ventilation in firefighting terms, stops that damaging outward movement of smoke and heat and enables us to locate potential victims, and fight the fire more efficiently, resulting in less damage in the long run. This procedure also reduces the risk of serious injury to firefighters.

Question: Why did the firefighters put holes in the walls and ceiling?
Answer: They had to be absolutely sure there was no "hidden" fire inside the walls, ceilings and partitions.

Question: Who do I call about a fire extinguisher that doesn't work?
Answer: Check the Yellow Pages under Fire Extinguishers.

Question: Do you get cats out of trees/telephone poles/off of roofs?
Answer: No. Try opening a can of cat food or tuna fish and waiting for the cat to get down on its own.

Page Last Updated: Oct 09, 2019 (07:12:14)
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