Duties & Responsibilities
Search and Rescue: The first priority at a fire scene is to search for and rescue any potential victims in the involved structure.
Fire Suppression: After confirming that human life is not endangered, firefighters work to extinguish the fire while stopping its spread. Before attacking the main body of the fire, “cut-off lines” are used to surround the fire so it will not spread to adjacent areas.
Salvage Operations: Firefighters attempt to minimize damage to personal property from fire, water and smoke by using tarps and removing valuable items if possible.
Ventilation: To reduce smoke and heat so that the fire may be located and extinguished more quickly, firefighters may ventilate the structure by cutting holes in the roof or breaking windows.
- Community Relations: Members of HFR are assigned to the Community Relations Office, which provides immediate direction for the residents displaced by fire. Personnel in this office help victims get their lives back to normal by advising them of appropriate service organizations, such as the Red Cross.
- Mutual Aid: In addition to incidents within the city limits, HFR has “mutual aid” agreements with several fire departments in the surrounding area.
- Medical Calls: HFR currently provides First Responder Emergency Medical Services throughout the City of Huntsville. Our goal is to have trained personnel on the scene in less than (4) minutes.
- Alarm Activation: HFR is dispatched to locations where a fire alarm or water flow alarm (sprinkler system) is activated.
- Carbon Monoxide: A unit is dispatched when a CO detector activates.
- Broken Water Pipe: Usually residential. An HFR unit will secure an area where water from a broken pike could create a hazard and cause damage until the Water Department arrives for repairs.
- Wire Down/Arc: An HFR unit will secure an area where damaged wires could create a hazard until Huntsville Utilities arrives. If necessary, firefighters may request that power be cut.
- Rescue Alarm: HFR extricates victims in accidents that result in vehicle or machinery entrapment.
- Water Rescue: HFR does not routinely perform water rescue. We do, however, have personnel trained in this area. Our goal for the near future is to acquire the necessary equipment and training to better perform this service.
- Technical Rescue: HFR has teams for Confined Space/Structure Collapse Rescue (persons trapped in small areas), High Angle Rescue (persons trapped above or below grade), Trench Rescue (persons trapped by trench collapse), Search Teams for lost/injured Hikers.
- Flooding: In times of flooding, firefighters may rescue any trapped flood victims or barricade dangerous low water crossings.
- Spill: HFR cleans up small fuel spills that result from accidents or at service stations.
- Hazardous Condition: HFR is the regional hazardous materials response agency. This unit of our department helps monitor and/or mitigate situations that involve hazardous materials such as chemical spills or ruptured gas lines.
- Investigate Odor: A unit will respond to a citizen concerned about an unusual or potentially dangerous odor and attempt to pinpoint its cause.
- Lockout: A unit will be sent to a vehicle/building lockout when an individual is endangered due to the situation.
- Lift Assistance: HFR personnel assist HEMSI in packaging obese patients for transport.
- Fire and Life Safety Presentations: Firefighters visit all elementary schools in the Huntsville School district (as well as other area schools upon request) and make a three-part presentation directed at various grade levels.
- Day Care Visits: Upon request, firefighters visit day care centers and explain the basics of fire safety to children.
- Community Service: Some companies or stations independently arrange programs and develop relationships supporting youth groups, schools, or community organizations.
- Station Tours: Firefighters at stations welcome visitors, which sometimes include informal guests, and other times are scheduled visits by community organizations.
- Special Appearances: Firefighters and apparatus often fill requests by communities or organizations to make appearances at special events such as parades, festivals, block parties, etc.
- Hydrant Flow Tests: Twice a year firefighters check flow capacities of water mains for existing and new structures in the city.
- Pre-Fire Plans: Every 6 months, firefighters familiarize themselves with structures located in their territories to identify hazards and risks so they are better prepared for emergency response.
- Physical Training: All firefighters are encouraged to engage in a physical fitness activities. This area will have emphasis in the future.
- Monthly Training: Firefighters must put in a minimum of 20 hours per month training covering a variety of topics such as territory familiarization, maps, or fire protection features in buildings.
- Skills Improvement Training: Advanced training in a particular discipline that often involves multiple companies.
- Hazmat Training: Hazmat team members require a minimum of 40 hours annually of Hazmat training.
- Professional Development: Firefighters at various ranks participate in professional development training to help prepare them for the next level of service.
- Outside Training Opportunities: Many firefighters seek external training opportunities, often presented by professional fire service organizations. Examples include the National Fire Academy, Alabama Fire College, etc.
- Basic EMT Refresher Course: Firefighters complete a state-required course to meet continuing education requirements with a minimum of 24 hours of study.
- Medical Refresher Training: All personnel are required to maintain current CPR and defibrillator training.
- Apparatus Maintenance: Routine maintenance and restocking of apparatus in stations.
- Upkeep of Station: Firefighters are responsible for general cleaning and routine maintenance of station building.