I want to start off this site by explaining a little bit of what you can expect. In this world you are either a Public Safety Provider or your a public safety customer, Either way there is a lot to cover. As a provider we are always looking for a better way to do things, or a better tool to help us do a job. As a customer, you deserve to understand just how things really are and what you can expect of your providers. This blog and VLOG are here to help answer all those questions and more.

Departments nationwide are working with their communities to better understand their needs and to help become partners in the joint venture of providing the best Fire, Police and Medical services possible. As we move along here, if you think of anything, you can always contact me and I will do my best to answer your questions, or at least make my best attempt to.

Lets start with the basics. In most communities, when a customer needs help, they call 911. The person that answers the phone could be just about anyone, depending on the size of the community and the department. Some cities have large independently operated state of the art 911 centers. These centers have the ability to process calls, provide Enhanced 911, Emergency Medical Dispatch, use AVL and assist responding units all the way through to the completion of the call. Now that may be a lot of information that you don’t understand, but we will cover all of this in the future.

On the other end of the spectrum, you may call 911 and get a single person who dispatches for just their agency, Fire, Police or EMS and they cannot provide anything that we just covered, but they will get you help. Whichever situation you are in, I am here to help you understand just what you can expect and how it all works.

Fire Departments

Fire Departments come in many shapes and sizes and have many different capabilities depending on the jurisdiction. I have worked around and with a volunteer fire department with 20 members and one fire truck to the department I work with now that has 400 people and over 50 apparatus. This is still considered a small urban department. Looking at the most famous fire department in the world, FDNY, they have right around 11,000 firefighters and over 430 apparatus running calls daily.

Over 80% of the fire departments in the US are volunteer, or mostly volunteer, so most of you will get a volunteer department when you call 911 for a fire. This means that you may get people responding from home, going to the fire station, picking up the fire truck and responding to your house. Some volunteers actually live full-time or part-time in their stations and can respond much sooner. Of course career firefighters are in the stations, or out in the trucks and will respond right away. Many volunteer departments have hired people to staff the trucks during the daytime hours when most people are working and they go off duty in the early evening, when everyone arrives back at home.

Staffing can be very different in most cities and towns as well. You can get a single driver arrive with a truck, with people meeting them at the scene, or you can expect a fire truck to arrive to four to six career firefighters in a larger city. The only way you can answer what your community has, is to check with your local departments themselves. Sometimes it is just as easy to look up your local departments online. Many departments have their own websites with all of this information available to their citizens.


EMS is very similar to the fire department and often is the exact same department. Many fire departments run the ambulances, while others have independent EMS agencies that are separate from Fire. Everything else operates much like the fire departments in that they can be volunteer, paid or a combination of both. My department runs both fire and ems and our firefighters rotate onto both the fire truck one day and the ambulance the next. Larger departments like FDNY run both, but separate. When you get hired by FDNY you either go into the EMS division or the Fire division, there are no firefighters that ride the ambulances and vice vs.


The police departments around the country are almost all career. Ranging from small departments that may have only one officer, up to a larger metro department that can have over 30,000 officers, police have a wide variety of capabilities. Police come in many varieties. Local town cops, county sheriffs, highway patrols and metropolitan officers. Many areas have kept officers with policing powers that have always been present in their history. Growing up in rural NY, we had local police departments in our town with five officers on duty a day. We also had county sheriffs that patrolled the street and ran the jail across the whole county with about the same numbers of officers. We also had NY State Troopers who also responded to house calls and had about 5 or 6 units in any particular region. In the early 70s and 80s, you could pick up your phone and call what ever police department you wanted to come, because there was no 911, only individual department phone numbers. In the 90s AVL became more popular in that area, so now you call 911 and you get the closest officer based on their GPS signal. Much has changed over the years, but not everyone has caught up to utilize modern technology yet.


This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what is out there for Public Safety. Keep with me for more information as we dive deeper into all of these topics in the future. As always send in your questions if you have any.

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