The Orange Fire Department has firefighters and paramedics located in eight different fire stations throughout the city, allowing for the best possible response time to incidents within that station’s respective first due district. The department is dispatched to a variety of incidents: structure fires, hazardous materials, medical calls, traffic accidents, confined space, etc.
Each engine company is staffed with 3 people: a captain (the crew supervisor), an engineer (the driver), and the firefighter. Each of the three rescue ambulances is staffed by two firefighters. Every effort is made to staff each engine and rescue company with a minimum of one paramedic to create what is called a paramedic assessment company; also, as personnel are available on a daily basis, an additional paramedic will be assigned to a unit known as an ALS (Advanced Life Support) company.
Each fire station is set up to serve as a home away from home for the firefighters who work what is called a three/four schedule. They work for one day (24 hours) every other day for five days and then are off for four days. Since they live at the fire station during that time, they have a kitchen, dormitory, TV room and an office area to enter reports from incidents and inspections that they complete.
Training has become a major part of the firefighters' daily responsibilities, taking up much of the work schedule. One of the training priorities for the Fire Department has been training and preparation for the possibility of a weapons of mass destruction (WMD) event. A WMD event is one that involves a deliberate action resulting in the release of chemical, biological, or radioactive material (dirty bombs).
In the past, training for the Fire Department has involved preparing for hazardous material spills, mass causalty incidents and disaster preparedness drills for plane crashes, earthquakes and other disasters. While the training and preparation for these events involve some of the same skills that we would utilize in the case of a WMD event, the scope of training and its specifics has increased. It now involves identification, decontamination and treatment of victims exposed to the various materials and the prevention of further exposure to people in the area by implementing evacuation or shelter-in-place procedures.