Fire Department FAQs

Why does the fire engine go with the ambulance on a medical call?

The Scituate Fire Department sends a fire engine and the ambulance to medical emergencies to ensure that the public gets the fastest, most effective and appropriate response. The engine crew is there to assist the ambulance crew  in moving the patient from the house and if necessary provide extra help in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. We plan for the worst and hope for the best when responding to a call.

What is the difference between an EMT and Paramedic?

The difference between an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and a Paramedic is a significant amount of education.  A Paramedic goes through more education and training and can provide a higher level of emergency care including invasive procedures (ALS or Advanced Life Support procedures).  A Paramedic is an EMT.  There are different levels of EMT training: EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate, EMT-Paramedic.  Each level requires more training and education than the prior.  A Paramedic will have upwards of 1500 hours of additional medical training over an EMT-Basic.

What is (ALS) Advanced Life Support and how can this help me?

Our Ambulance is primarily staffed with Firefighter/Paramedics. This staffing enables us to take the Emergency Room right to the patient. Studies have found that the first ten minutes of an emergency are the most critical. Our Firefighter/Paramedics are trained not only in (BLS) Basic Life Support, but are trained in establishing I.V.s' and administering numerous life saving medications in the field. They can use comprehensive cardiac monitoring including 12 lead, pediatric advanced life support and advanced airway management

Why does the ambulance sit in front of my house after they get the patient into the back of the ambulance?

In many ways, an ambulance is like a mobile emergency room. The ambulance carries the same equipment as the emergency room has - and even does the same procedures as the emergency room. Sometimes, a patient needs some medication or a special procedure prior to going to the hospital. Some medical conditions need to be addressed rapidly to ensure a positive outcome for the patient.

When I call for an ambulance, why do I sometimes see an ambulance from another town?

During the course of a day it is not unusual for two, three or four calls for the ambulance to come in at the same time. If our ambulance is busy we will request an ambulance from the next available town. This Mutual Aid system works both ways, therefore the Scituate ambulance is commonly dispatched to the other municipalities.   The surrounding towns are also ALS.   Are Paramedics are also assigned to the Engines and Ladder company so in case of multiple medical aid calls usually a paramedic will arrive at the scene and begin care of the patient prior to the out of town ambulance arriving at the scene.

Do the personnel on the ambulance fight fires also?

The personnel on the ambulance are also firefighters.  All personnel are trained at the Fire Academy.

Why do so many fire trucks go on a call?      

The number of trucks responding is based on the type of call received. On a medical aid  an engine and ambulance respond to the scene.  The standard response for any structural calls which can include alarms, building fires, odors of gas or smoke, and lightning strikes require more man power so 2 engines, ladder, rescue, and the officer in charge respond.  If we need additional help after we arrive at a scene we use the mutual aid system and also call back Scituate firefighters if needed.

Why do some fire trucks park down the street from a fire?

Citizens may see fire apparatus parked down the street from an incident for two primary reasons:     In situations when an EMS scene is deemed unsafe due to a potentially violent patient or family member, or there are dangerous drugs involved, apparatus may “stage” until the police department has secured (made safe) the scene.

On fire calls, an engine may stage down at the fire hydrant in case additional water is need at the scene for a building fire.

Why does the emergency equipment run with lights and siren, then just turn them off?

On occasion, the fire engine and ambulance will be driving with lights and sirens and then suddenly turn them off--perhaps only to turn into a shopping center parking lot or side street.  Be assured that when this happens it means we have received information that the caller or incident is no longer a dire emergency.  It is what we call "being cancelled".  Any or all of the apparatus may continue to drive to the call or perhaps some will return to the Fire Station.

When you're not out fighting fires, what do you do?

Firefighters work a 24-hour shift. We eat, sleep and work out of our fire station. It is our home which is why we refer to it as a fire “house”. All daily maintenance on fire department vehicles is performed at the fire station. We are involved in educational programs in the schools and to the public. We conduct training to help maintain and improve our skills.

Why do I see a fire truck parked at the grocery store?

Our firefighters work 24 hour shifts, which means that they eat, sleep, and work at the fire station for 24 hours at a time. Occasionally they need to go to the store to purchase food to prepare meals for the day, but they are still on duty. They do not have the freedom to go anywhere they want for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They are in service and prepared to respond immediately, even from the grocery store, if they get a call. If  you'll notice that they are carrying emergency radios. Sometimes they get a call and have to leave their items as they quickly respond to the emergency.

How hot does a house fire get?

The temperature of a house fire depends on the materials that are burning. Now more than ever, our society's modern conveniences are made of synthetics instead of Mother Nature’s raw materials. When plastics or other petroleum based products burn, temperatures can reach as high as 1,200°F.