Emergency Operations

The Operation Section prepares for and responds to emergencies of all types. In addition to planning and training for emergency responses, the Section also works to ensure sufficient facilities, fire vehi­cles, equipment and other infrastructure are acquired and maintained before they are needed for emergency incidents. 

Three battalion chiefs report to the Operations Deputy Chief. They command three shifts of 35 emergency responders who are on duty around the clock. The battalion chiefs spend the bulk of their time working on special projects to plan for emergencies. All three battalion chiefs lead departmental committees and other efforts related to emergency preparedness and response.

The Orange City Fire Department is providing excellent service in the present and preparing for the future!

Who Do We Ask to Confront the Unthinkable?

People call the fire department when they don't know who else to call. This means that firefighters not only have to be proficient in the incidents to which they respond every day, but the full spectrum of possible emergencies in the community. The City of Orange is unique in that it possesses so many different types of emergency challenges including the following:
  • Commercial areas
  • Commuter and cargo rail lines
  • High pressure petroleum pipelines
  • Highrise buildings
  • Historical district
  • Industrial areas
  • Institutional/Governmental facilities
  • Multiple freeways
  • Residential areas
  • The Santa Ana River, Santiago Reservoir and Santiago Creek
  • Wildland/Urban interface (WUI)
Given the wide range of possible emergencies that can occur in the city, the Orange City Fire Department trains for them all. Firefighters "hope for the best, but plan for the worst."


Emergency dispatchers are the "first first responders." Metro Cities Fire Authority, commonly known as Metro Net, serves the citizens of seven cities including the City of Orange. The center dispatches fire and emergency medical services for more than 1.2 million people and an area covering over 200 square miles within Orange County.

Emergency Medical Services (EMS)

Calls for medical aid account for approximately 80% of the incident responses by the Orange City Fire Department. Paramedics obtain their certifications after a rigorous 6-month specialized training regimen. Then, they continue training throughout their time in assignment. All emergency responders are emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and have to continually train to maintain their certifications.

Fire Suppression

The fire department responds to fires, but most people don't know how many different kinds of fires there are, and how different the dangers of each can be. Firefighters have to be aware of different sets of tactics and safety concerns for house fires, "center-hallway" apartment fires, commercial fires, industrial fires, wildland fires, high-rise fires and even vehicle fires. In short, books can be written about each type of fire. There is an incredible amount of information that has to be learned and retained by all firefighters to enable them to work effectively on the fireground. One thing is for sure: any mistake made on any type of fire can lead to severe injury or fatalities, so firefighters spend a tremendous amount of time training for all aspects of the different type fires that they face.

Hazardous Materials Releases

What happens when a chemical tanker rolls over and spills its load? The fire department responds! All suppression personnel are trained to the Hazardous Materials First Responder Operational level, which includes training in identifying chemicals, starting the evacuation process, stabilizing incidents and mitigating them. From small oil spills in the street to leaking chemical tanker rail cars, Orange City Fire Department crews are able to intervene safely and effectively.

Urban Search & Rescue (US&R)

These technical rescues can involve ropes and rigging, breaching wood frame or cement walls, floors and roofs, lifting and moving heavy objects, shoring walls, roof structures, windows and doors, swift water, confined spaces, trenches and more. A minimum of five technical rescue classes are required for certification as an Urban Search and Rescue Technician. A large number of Orange City Fire Department personnel are "US&R certified," and several members serve on the California Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 5 (CA TF-5), a federal team that responds to local, State and national incidents.


There are two main ways the fire department protects the community from terrorism: prevention and response. Through collaboration with county and federal agencies, as well as through the implementation of the Terrorism Liaison Officer (TLO) program, specially trained individuals gather and share intelligence deemed to be a threat to the public. Firefighters are kept apprised of the current, relevant international and national information to maintain the highest possible degree of readiness and tactical awareness.

If an incident were to take place, fire department personnel would respond with the knowledge and experience they have gained by training for just such an event. Specifically, first responders are trained to handle all types of terrorist events whether they involve chemicals, biological weapons, radiation, nuclear devices and/or explosives. First responders take initial actions and call for specialized resources depending upon the type of incident they face. They also notify appropriate local, State and Federal agencies to coordinate the response.

Traffic Collisions and Physical Rescue

Non-deployed air bags, alternative-fuel vehicles, high-strength body components and crumple zones are a few of the hazards and difficulties firefighters face when they arrive on scene of a traffic collision. There are many critical functions that need to occur quickly and safely on a traffic collision with an associated physical rescue to insure the safety of the responders and the patient.

Specialty Incidents

There are other incidents that occur rarely, and are difficult to pre-plan. Firefighters have to use a combination of knowledge and skills that they have learned by training for other types of incidents, and apply them to situations that nobody could have imagined. Frequent training, operational discipline and resourcefulness are needed on every incident, no matter how routine it may seem.