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FireHouse 101
The Job

Emergency Responses

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“Volunteer firefighters are the first responders to 60% of our county.”

Palomar Observatory

October 2009 – “The observatory was unable to use the 200 inch telescope due to an accumulation of ash on the dome from fires in surrounding areas. The ash would have dropped down on the mirror so it was imperative to wash the ashes off before the big shutter could be opened. We took Chief Lucia’s ladder truck over and, utilizing observatory supplied water, we were able to wash the dome as the dome was rotated. They were able to recommence observing that night.”
~ Battalion Chief Cliff Kellogg

Did you know that about 80% of all emergencies to which a fire department responds are medical in nature? Though it varies by department and location (urban vs. suburban vs. rural), generally fire incidents are about 10-15% of all calls, medical/rescue are Emergency Response Calls75-85% and public service are about 5-10% of all calls.

The rural areas of our county are the backyard or playground for the urbanized portions of our county. If you are out hiking, biking, off-roading or playing in the snow and have an injury most likely the first medical provider to arrive to assist you will be a volunteer firefighter, as they are the first responders serving 60% of our county.

Fire Emergencies

Fire emergencies include structure fires (anything from a shed to a high rise building), vehicle fires (autos, trucks, trains, boats etc.), trash fires, and grass and wild-land fires. Though most fires are small and extinguished quickly before they can grow in size; some fires can erupt into major infernos, whether it is a large building fully ablaze or a wildfire burning thousands of acres and taking days or weeks to fully extinguish.

Medical Emergencies

Medical and rescue emergencies are the most common incidents for fire departments, though they can vary greatly in their nature. They always include something impacting a human being such as cuts, falls, heart attacks, vehicle and off-road ATV or dune buggie accidents, stuck in a tight space, needing to be brought up or down from a steep cliff, or caught in water (pool, lake or swift water). All these medical/rescue calls require the use of specialized equipment to treat patients as effectively as possible.

Community Resource Emergencies

Interesting Point: Fire departments, especially in rural communities, are the community resource all residents depend upon when assistance is needed. These calls include removing snakes from homes, opening up cars when the keys are locked inside, removing large boulders and downed trees from roads and driveways. Oh yes, and removing cats from trees. You name it, some fire department has had that call. Palomar Mountain volunteer fire department even had to use a hook & ladder truck to wash ash off the dome of the observatory after a fire, so when they opened up the dome to research the heavens, the 200 inch telescope lens would not be damaged.