Detroit Fire Department FAQ

Will I receive a bill if I am transported by EMS?

There is a charge billed to the patients medical insurance company for payment. Patients are responsible for all bills not paid by insurance companies.

When reporting a VEHICLE accident, what do I tell the dispatcher?

To report a vehicle accident, remain calm and provide the dispatcher with the following:

  1. The location of the accident scene
  2. The number of injuries at the accident scene
  3. How many vehicles are involved in the accident
  4. Report a brief description of the vehicles
  5. Report harmful hazards (gasoline leaks, chemical spills, and wires down)
  6. Who witnessed the accident

Witnesses should remain on the scene until the EMS unit and Detroit Police arrives

When reporting a MEDICAL emergency, what do I tell the dispatcher?

To report a medical emergency, remain calm and provide the dispatcher with the following.

  1. The location of the sick or injured person?
  2. What the symptoms are of the injured or ill person.
  3. Does the person have a known history of illnesses?
  4. Does the person take medication?
When reporting a FIRE, what do I tell the dispatcher?

To report a fire, remain calm and provide the dispatcher with the following:

  1. Where the fire is located.
  2. What is on fire.
  3. Who is in danger or trapped.
  4. How the fire began.
  5. Give brief details about the fire. (Example: odor, smoke, or flames)
When should I call 9-1-1?

The Detroit Fire Department recommends dialing 9-1-1 for injury or life-threatening emergency incidents.

What does it mean when my smoke alarm chirps?

The smoke alarm will chirp when its time to replace the battery. We encourage residents to change the smoke alarm battery when they change their clocks for Daylight Saving time in the spring and fall each year.

Why does the fire engine respond to auto accidents?

In many instances auto accidents require firefighters to remove injured persons who are trapped. Firefighters also assess the scene for hazards, such as fuel leaks, disabled airbags, and auto batteries that may need to be disconnected.

Why do the fire trucks turn on their lights to back in the station?

Detroit fire stations are not equipped for the fire apparatus to pull through the bays. Therefore, it requires the fire apparatus to back into the fire station. In an effort to back the fire apparatus into the bay the driver of the fire apparatus turn on the emergency lights (red lights) to warn all vehicles to stop.

Why do I see the fire trucks at the grocery store or at other stores?

Firefighters work 24-hour shifts, which require grocery shopping for food to cook, and shopping at other stores for other items needed to stock the firehouse.

What do I do when I see an emergency vehicle approaching when I am driving?

Motorists should pull their vehicles safely to the right when an emergency vehicle is approaching. It is not recommended to stop in the middle of the road or proceed through an intersection against the signals. Remember to safely pull to the right.

How many people die in residential fires each year?

Unfortunately, Detroit has an average of 47 residential fire deaths each year. More importantly, the majority of the victims are children and senior citizens. Many of these fatalities occur as a direct result of a careless smoker, a careless cook, improper use of auxiliary heating appliances, or a child with a match (inadequate supervision of children). Most of the homes are not equipped with smoke alarms. Smoke alarms are an early warning detection device when there is a fire and can save lives. Every home should have at least one smoke alarm on each floor level, because the sooner the fire is discovered the greater the chance of saving lives and property. You can’t rely on a fire engine to save your life.

How many emergencies does your department respond to each year?

The Emergency Medical Services division handles an average of 130,000 medical emergencies a year. During 2006 the total medical calls for service were 131,481.

What was the biggest fire in the history of Detroit?

The biggest fire occurred in Detroit in 1805 when the Village of Detroit was totally destroyed by fire.

How many fires does the fire department respond to each year?

Detroit Firefighters respond to an average of 30,000 per year. The total for 2006 was 33,441.

What is your department's average response time to fires?

Our average response time to fires is 6 minutes 59 seconds.

Why do firefighters chop holes in walls?

The process of chopping holes in walls is necessary to expose hidden fires inside the walls.

Why do firefighters chop holes in the roof at a fire?

Firefighters ventilate (chop holes in a roof and break windows) to remove the blazing heat, smoke, and toxic gases.

What does a Rescue Company do at a fire scene?

The Rescue Company's responsibilities include but are not limited to: search and rescue operations, auto extrication, forcible entry, laddering for additional means of egress, venting windows, and stretching hose line.

What does a Ladder Company do at a fire scene?

The Ladder Company will gain access, “forcible entry” and “ventilate” (open windows, doors, and chop a hole in the roof) the process of removing heat and smoke. The Ladder Company is also responsible for disconnecting utilities, placing ladders in an effort to provide an alternative exit for trapped civilians or for firefighters to ascend to chop a hole in the roof.

What does an Engine Company do at a fire scene?

The Engine Company is charged with extinguishment.  Additional engine companies are charged with supplying water to the first engine and on standby to serve as backup for the first crew.

Who is in charge of the Detroit firefighters?

The Executive Fire Commissioner is appointed by the Mayor to provide overall management and leadership of the Detroit Fire Department. Under the direction of the Executive Fire Commissioner, the Chief of Department is in charge of the Firefighting Division.

Are there ranks among the Detroit firefighters?

The Detroit Fire Department has four officer promotional opportunities within the Firefighting Division for firefighter advancement. The sequences of ranks for promotion are:

  • Firefighter to Fire Sergeant
  • Fire Sergeant to Fire Lieutenant
  • Fire Lieutenant to Fire Captain
  • Fire Captain to Battalion Fire Chief

Also, fire employees who express an interest in driving positions must successfully complete the required training hours. The fire driving positions are:

  • Firefighter-to-Firefighter Driver
  • Firefighter Driver to Fire Engine Operator

Promotions in the Department are based on length of service.The firefighter employee having served the longest period in any position shall be advanced to fill any vacancy in the next higher position, if he/she has the qualifications for the promotion. Promotion to any rank shall require successful passage of a physical examination including passing a drug test.

What kinds of awards can a Detroit firefighter receive?

There are four firefighter recognition awards:

  1. Fire Commissioner’s Citation
  2. Fire Commissioner’s Individual Commendation
  3. Distinguish Service Award
  4. Community Service
What is a typical workday for a firefighter?

The Commanding Officer assigns fire station duties to the crew for that day. Duties include cooking, cleaning, monitoring the dispatch radio, flag mounting, attendance reporting, and hydrant inspecting. Firefighters also participate in community events and in-service training activities. The in-service training involves classroom instruction and hands-on training at the fire station and/or the Department Training Academy. Emergency incidents may interrupt assigned duties, such as emergency and non-emergency incidents, which includes but are not limited to residential, commercial, vehicle, trash fires, and false alarms. Firefighters are permitted to rest and sleep during their 24-hour tour of duty.

What kind of work schedule does a firefighter have?

A Detroit Firefighter works 48 hours per week. This is accomplished by working 24 hours on duty and 24 hours off duty. This schedule works out to be approximately 104, 24-hour days per year.

How many firefighters are at each fire station?

The number of firefighters assigned to a firehouse can range from four (4) to twelve (12).  The number of Firefighters at any given firehouse varies according to the amount of apparatus assigned to the firehouse. There will be at least 4 firefighters who work 24 hours a day per Engine, Ladder, or Tactical Mobile Squad. Medic vehicles are staffed with a minimum of 1 paramedic and one (1) emergency medical technician who works 12-hour shifts around the clock. 

How many fire engines does each firehouse have?

There are 46 firehouses and 80% of the firehouses have at least one fire engine.

How many fire stations are in the city of Detroit?

There are 46 firehouses strategically located throughout the city.

How do I obtain a copy of a fire report?

An official fire report can be obtained from the Fire Marshal’s Division.

Please be advised that it usually takes three (3) business days for the Fire Marshal’s Division to receive a fire report.  Questions related to fire reports can be directed to (313) 596-2961.

How does a person become a Detroit firefighter?

The City of Detroit establishes an eligibility list for the position of Firefighter every two years or as economic budget constraints allows and through a selection process.

The selection process:

  1. Application

    Applicants must be at least 18 years of age, a United States citizen, possess a valid motor vehicle operator’s license, and possess a high school diploma or G.E.D. (at time of appointment). The Detroit Civil Service Commission will notify applicants of the time and place to report for your examinations.

  2. (Phase 1) Written Exam (Phase 2) Physical Capability Testing and Oral Assessment

    The initial testing will be conducted under the direction of the Detroit Municipal Civil Service Commission. Those applicants who score sufficiently high enough will proceed to the next level. Prior to the test, preparation materials will be provided.

  3. Background Investigation

    A personal history questionnaire will be required from each candidate along with a pre-interview and fingerprints. Candidates also will sign waivers allowing the Background Officer to conduct an extensive background investigation. At this time, the candidate must submit a high school diploma or G.E.D.

  4. Oral Interview

    The candidate will be required to go before an Oral Interview Board consisting of Fire Department and Human Resources representatives.

  5. Medical/Stress Evaluation

    This step will involve a physical examination including vision and cardiovascular stress tests. Candidates must be free of dependence and addiction to narcotics, alcohol or other controlled substances. The vision requirements state that vision must be correctable to 20/30 and no more than 20/100 binocular uncorrected in each eye.

  6. Appointment

    Firefighter candidate names will be submitted to the Executive Fire Commissioner for final selection and appointment to the Detroit Fire Department’s Training Academy. Fire candidates will be notified by letter of an appointment date to report to the Fire Academy. Fire recruits will be required to successfully complete approximately five months of paid training when they enter the Detroit Fire Academy. All trainees will be required to successfully complete a one-year probation from date of appointment.

How long is the training for a firefighter candidate in the Department's Training Academy?

Applicants who successfully pass all requirements are placed on an eligibility list and hired from the list to attend the Detroit Fire Department’s Training Academy for the duration of five months. The Training Academy is located on West Warren and Lawton.