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Fire Operations Overview

The largest division within the Seattle Fire Department is the Operations Division, which is responsible for emergency medical services, fire suppression, mitigation of disasters, and rescue activities.

Technical Teams within the Operations Division include the Hazardous Materials Response Team, Dive Team, Confined Space Rescue, Heavy Rescue, and Marine Emergency Response Team.

Operations Division Firefighters inspect commercial, multi-residential and waterfront facilities on an annual basis. In addition to emergency work, Operations Division members provide a wide range of services to the community including blood-pressure screening, tours of fire stations and apparatus, and fire and life safety presentations within the community.

See the Department Profile and the Statistics sections for details of Seattle Fire Department's services and performance.


The Operations Division is comprised of four platoons within six Battalions of Firefighters who work an alternating schedule of 24-hour shifts. Each Battalion is supervised by a Battalion Chief who is responsible for the emergency and administrative activities of all members assigned to that Battalion.

Fire Department Services

Firefighters do much more than just fight fires. They provide a wide variety of services within the community such as:

  • Physically inspect commercial and multi-residential buildings for fire safety violations.
  • Ensure fire permit requirements are complied with and current.
  • Provide emergency medical services.
  • Department Paramedics provide advanced medical assistance via the Medic One program.
  • Perform non-emergency service calls such as assisting with flooded buildings and homes.
  • Provide stand-by medical support at large public events such as concerts and sporting events.
  • Assist the Seattle Police Department with the cleanup of clandestine drug labs within our neighborhoods.
  • Perform investigations of suspicious fires.
  • Actively participate and/or sponsor a variety of community events, organizations and fundraisers.
  • Work within the community to educate and raise general awareness on issues of fire safety.
  • Provide "walk-in" blood pressure screening at neighborhood fire stations.
  • Give free fire station tours upon request.

Fire and Life Safety Inspections

The field inspection program provides for the systematic annual inspection of all commercial occupancies. The Operations Division is also responsible for checking permits for hazardous processes, special occupancies and any activity which produces conditions hazardous to life or property. Operations Division Firefighters are responsible for checking business licenses in all commercial occupancies during the course of their regular building inspection tours. Inspections also include short plat subdivision requests, post-alarm building status, dry grass and other fire hazard complaints.

Members conduct periodic target-area inspections consisting of special patrols of personnel in Fire Department vehicles who provide a visible presence in areas experiencing a high frequency of arson. Additional inspections for street vacations, sprinkler systems, standpipe systems, combustible debris, fire alarm systems, street blockades and out-of-service fire protection systems were conducted as needed.

Operations Division personnel conduct a minimum of two follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the Fire Code before an infraction is referred to the Compliance Section of the Fire Prevention Division.

Community Service

The Seattle Fire Department participates and/or sponsors many community events and services throughout the year. For example, Fire stations were collection points for local community efforts such as Northwest Harvest and Toys for Tots. Neighborhood fire stations also offer drop-in blood pressure screening, a service that continues to remain popular with the general public.

Firefighters serve as role models in fire safety programs for Seattle schools. Fire companies participate in Fire Prevention Week activities, numerous community parades, fairs and cultural events. Local fire stations have also sponsored needy families by providing food and gifts during the holiday season.

The Seattle Fire Department continues to sponsor and support the Fire Cadet Programs; Company 511 and the Senior Cadet. These programs offer members a chance to explore a career in fire fighting.


Last Modified:   June 13, 2012

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