Check out our list of frequently asked questions: (and if you have a question you would like answered – just submit it in the “Ask a Firefighter” box at the bottom of the page!)

Why does a fire engine respond when I call 911 for a medical emergency?

There are several answers to this question

  1. Your OKC firefighters are trained as Emergency Medical Technicians and/or Paramedics.  Of the 36 Engine companies in Oklahoma City, 29 engines are considered Advanced Life Support (ALS) engines.  The ALS engines are staffed with paramedics and carry the same “advanced life support” equipment carried on an ambulance.  The remaining 7 OKC engines are considered Basic Life Support (BLS) engines which are staffed with Basic Emergency Medical Technicians.
  2. OKC firefighters usually arrive prior to an ambulance due to the fire stations being located in fixed locations around the city to ensure a fast response time.  There are far more fire department engines than ambulances and the ALS engines can provide the same level of care as an ambulance.  OKC firefighters can start basic patient set-up, get patients vitals and information, and provide life-saving actions like CPR and intubation prior to an ambulance arriving.
  3. The firefighters also carry specialized equipment not on an ambulance for rescue situations as well as provide the manpower to assist the ambulance in moving a patient from confined spaces in a house or structure.  A firefighter can also ride with ambulance personnel to the hospital should the severity of the medical issue require additional manpower for the ambulance.

Every second counts when someone’s life is in balance.  When making a response decision, firefighters will always err on the side of caution when someone calls 911 for any reason.

Why do fire trucks go to the grocery store while on duty or why do I see the fire truck at a restaurant?

Firefighters are in a ready to respond mode 24/7, regardless of their location.  Firefighters work a 24 hour shift with no standard break-time.  Firefighters usually eat 2-3 times during their 24 hour shift and respond to incidents even during meals.   During the shift, some stations choose to eat out within their fire district, while others prefer to buy groceries and cook meals at their station.  In either case, firefighters are always available, ready to respond even when eating.

OKC firefighters do not receive money from the city or use taxpayer funds for eating out or buying groceries while on duty.  The firefighters are responsible for the cost of food/groceries while on-duty.

What is the difference between a pumper (fire engine) and a ladder truck?

  • A ladder truck, referred to in OKC as a Rescue Ladder, carries multiple ground ladders of varying length and purpose.  They have a large aerial ladder (from 100-135ft) used to reach the upper floors of tall buildings.  Ladder trucks carry all the rescue equipment for extrication, forcible entry tools, numerous power tools such as chain saws, ventilation fans, and lighting equipment.
  • A pumper or fire engine, referred to in OKC as an Engine, carries thousands of feet of fire hose, nozzles, couplings, and can pump water.  Engines have water tanks with approximately 500 gallons of water for a quick attack on a fire which is critical until a dedicated water supply can be established from a fire hydrant.  An engine also carries medical equipment, is staffed with paramedics, and can provide the same level of care as an ambulance when responding to medical emergencies.

How can I get a smoke detector from the Oklahoma City Fire Department? 

The Oklahoma City Fire Department believes strongly that all of our citizens need working smoke alarms in their homes. So, if you are a resident of Oklahoma City and you are unable to afford a smoke alarm, or if you are physically unable to install one, we will bring one to you and install it for you. This is completely free! 

If you need a smoke alarm installed, simply call the Oklahoma City Fire Department at 405-297-3318, and we will be happy to schedule a time to come take care of that for you.

Will the firefighters do a fire/safety presentation at my school/church/business or organization?

Yes, there are many programs to address any need related to the safety of our citizens and our City. For more information please contact our Public Education office at 297-3318.