Dispatcher Training Manual

Fire Radio Dispatching


Because a timely response of fire equipment is vital for fire and medical emergencies, the dispatcher shall maintain the current status and location of fire apparatus and chiefs at all times. It is important to know when apparatus is out of their assigned district--which lengthens response times--or if they are unable to respond for any reason--which requires response from another district. Because units are dispatched by radio, it is also important to know if a unit is in-quarters or on-the-air.

Company officers may report several different types of status to the dispatcher. Each one indicates their availability and how and where they are to be contacted for emergencies.

  • in quarters
  • at the office
  • at the drill tower
  • on the scene
  • at the corp yard
  • at the hospital
  • on the air can be reached by radio, either in-service or out of service
  • out of dispatch district may not be closest unit for medical incidents, check their location before dispatching
  • full assignments only similar to above, may not be quickly available for medical incidents, check before dispatching
  • 2nd up usually for ambulances, dispatch other unit first for all incidents, notify 2nd up unit and they will return to normal status
  • out-of-service not available for incidents
  • in-service available for incidents
  • in tandem transporting apparatus, will respond as requested with both rigs

When the status of equipment changes, the dispatcher shall immediately change the status in CAD to reflect the new status. If you determine that a district will be without fire or medical coverage for a long period of time, you should notify the Assistant Chief, who may relocate units.

Units which are out-of-service shall be considered unavailable to respond to any incident. However, whenever a emergency medical call is received, the dispatcher shall check the status of any nearby out-of-service unit at another incident. For example...

"Engine 5, we have a nearby incident. What's your status?" [We can be in-service now.] Check, an unconscious person....."

"Engine 3, we have a nearby incident. What's your status?" [We're doing CPR and will be enroute to the hospital.] "Check, disregard."


Response to fire emergencies is based on the type of incident, the number of buildings or persons involved, access, etc. The Oaktown Fire Department has three common types of responses coded in CAD as follows:

    Single dispatch a engine company
    Fire full-assignment of 3 engines, 2 truck, paramedic unit &
    assistant chief
    medical emergency nearest engine or truck, ambulance

The general rule is, if any structure is involved in any way, send a fullassignment. If the fire is small, local and does not involve or threaten a structure, send a single company.

In all cases, you shall send a unit to investigate and report on all fires reported to you. The fire department is mandated by ordinance to perform these duties and to compile complete statistics on all fires within the city. Also, callers may not realize that the fire they "put out" is still smoldering and might later rekindle into a larger fire.

The following dispatches are mandatory under the circumstances listed:

--Single Company Dispatch

The nearest engine company shall be sent to:

  • exterior trash fire, not near a building
  • auto fire not in or near a garage or structure
  • grass fires not near a structure
  • local electrical problems, including shorts, light ballasts
  • audible fire or smoke alarms when nothing is visible
  • natural gas leaks; to shut off the utilities
  • wires down
  • private alarms from any company, with truck company
  • odor investigation, where NO smoke is visible

Note that truck companies cannot handle any type of fire incident by themselves. They have no firefighting capability and must always respond with an engine.

--Full Assignment

Three engines and one truck company shall be sent to:

  • All reports of flames or smoke in or from a building. If the smoke is merely a haze and an occupant can definitely attribute the haze to a local electrical problem, you may dispatch the nearest engine company.
  • All reports of exterior fires involving or close to any structure.
  • All reports of fire or fire alarms from Oaktown Hospital.

--Medical Emergency

The nearest in-service engine or truck and nearest ambulance shall be sent to:

  • All reports of medical emergencies

There is no option to send the ambulance to a medical emergency by itself--you must send an engine or truck with an ambulance to all incidents.

There is no difference between a paramedic ambulance and an EMT ambulance for dispatch purposes. The nearest ambulance of any type is dispatched, whether EMT or paramedic. Also, the reported nature of the incident does not influence the type of ambulance initially dispatched. If a serious, long-term incident occurs, dispatch the nearest ambulance, who will request the paramedic unit if it's needed.


If you receive simultaneous emergency calls, you shall dispatch any medical call first, then fire calls, then service calls. If a unit is responding to a service call and you receive a nearby medical call, you may divert the unit to the emergency. However, be aware that because of the size of fire apparatus, they cannot simply "turn around" like a auto to take the call. It may be faster if you dispatch a unit from nearby quarters to the call.


The CAD software contains a list of all Oaktown streets and intersections--a geofile. A fire response has been defined for each entry in the geofile. When an unassigned incident appears on your unassigned incident screen, enter the Recommend Unit function key or press PF3. CAD will display the units that are assigned to respond.

The CAD recommendation is based on sending the nearest appropriate fire apparatus to an emergency. This will usually be the first in-service unit (engine, truck or ambulance) listed on the CAD run card. However, units may be on-the-air or in transit and may be closer than the listed unit. Whenever units are in-service and on-the-air, check their location for possible response before sending the listed company.

If notother on-the-air unit is closer, dispatch the units listed from the CAD recommendation. Enter the Dispatch command or press F4 to dispatch the listed units.


When you receive an incident that has been cloned from a police incident, it will have a linked incident type code (BOTH, 11-81, etc.). Prior to acting on the incident, you must change the incident to a valid fire activity type (SINGLE, MED, FIRE, etc.), and update the incident.


The fire department uses the term "alarm" to indicate a specific assignment of several apparatus to an emergency. The term "dispatch" refers to the dispatch of a single engine or an engine and ambulance.

In Oaktown, the term "full-assignment" is equivalent to a 1st alarm assignment. The levels of alarms in Oaktown are as follows:

  • dispatch engine or truck
  • 1st alarm 3 engines, 1 truck company, A/C
  • 2nd alarm 2 engines, 1 truck
  • 3rd alarm 2 engines

A third-alarm is the highest alarm assignment in Oaktown. When more men or equipment are needed, mutual aid is requested from surrounding cities or from the county.



  • nearest engine is-out-of service next-due engine
  • nearest truck is out-of-service next-due truck
  • both trucks out-of-service next due engine
  • first eng/truck is `2nd up' next due unit
  • nearest eng/truck is `in tandem' normal response


  • nearest engine out-of-service nearest engine or nearest truck if closer
  • nearest ambulance out-of-service next due ambulance
  • both ambulances out-of-service Albany, Acme or LBL ambulance
  • nearest ambulance is `2nd up' next-due ambulance
  • nearest ambulance is `in tandem' normal response

You should remember that trucks have no firefighting capability and cannot be substituted for fire emergencies. They can be used as an alternate on medical emergency responses.

When the second Oaktown ambulance goes out of service, you should request "backup" from the county. When you make this request, a Regional ambulance will be sent into north Oaktown to standby and await any additional incidents. When any Oaktown ambulance becomes available, cancel the backup when you telephone the county, such as "Rescue 12 is available and you can cancel the backup."


If either of the two truck companies is out of service, the firefighters will be moved to a engine. Their designation will be Squad 2 or Squad 5. When a squad is in service, the CAD recommendation is changed:

  • For medical calls within district 2 or 5, the squad is first-due instead of the engine
  • For full assignments, the squad replaces an engine within their own half of the city. In the other half of the city, dispatch the in-service truck company.

For example, Truck 5 is out of service, Squad 5 is in-service. A full assignment in north Oaktown would receive 3 engines and Truck 2. A full assignment in south Oaktown would receive 2 engines, Squad 5 and Truck 2.


The Transit District has over three miles of track in Oaktown, all above ground. Special responses have been devised for aerial and underground track incidents as well as emergencies in the stations. For fires on transit property, responses are as follows:

  • within station normal full-assignment
  • in station first and second-alarm assignment; units are assigned to adjacent stations

If you receive a report of a transit incident, you should do the following:

A) Determine the location of the incident, including:

1) In a station

a) which station? North Oaktown, Main, Wilson St.?

b) at what level? Street, concourse, track?

2) Along the trackway

a) which track? 1 or 2?

b) at what milepost? From 3.0 to 6.0

B) Determine the nature of the incident

1) Medical emergency - dispatch normal engine/ambulance assignment as indicated in the Response Guide

2) Fire - 1st and 2nd alarm assignment

a) in station - all units to station

b) on trackway - half units to nearest station, half to trackway location

3) Service call (non-emergency) - normal apparatus response

Dispatchers should be familiar with the section of the fire department General Orders dealing with transit district information and fire fighting procedures.


All responses to fire and medical emergencies shall be Code 3 (red light and siren). A Code 2 response (no lights or siren) is permitted only in the following situations:

  • request for Code 2 by an on-the-scene public safety officer
  • a non-emergency service call, such as:
  • water control
  • lock-in or -out
  • delayed fire report
  • aid to invalid ---a non-emergency psychiatric transport

The dispatcher does not determine the response code but simply obtains enough information to give to the fire officer, who will determine what code to respond. If a caller reports an extinguished fire, the dispatcher should relay that information to the fire officer, who will then decide what code to respond. Likewise, if a public safety agency or citizen requests a Code 2 response, the dispatcher shall relay that request to the responding units, who will decide the proper response code.

Callers often tell the dispatcher "We don't need any sirens," but they still indicate they have an emergency. In cases of drug abuse or psychiatric problems, you may honor their request and pass the information along to the fire officer during the dispatch. Otherwise, tell the caller that the fire department responds to emergencies with sirens as a matter of policy and reassure them that someone will be right there.


After deciding what equipment to send, the dispatcher's objective is to quickly notify the companies and give them the dispatch information.

Dispatch of all Single or Med incidents is by only the dispatch telephone system. If that system is inoperative, the information would be transmitted by the radio paging system.

Dispatch of all full-assignments is by the dispatch telephone system and broadcasts on both channel 1 and 3.

Station Arrangement

The officer at each station is responsible for listening to each radio alarm or answering each telephoned dispatch and writing down the correct address and nature. While he/she is doing this, other members of the company listen to the dispatch information on speakers installed throughout the station and then go to the apparatus to begin responding. You should realize that the officer can drop his pen, the ink may stop flowing, noises may garble your dispatch or he may be momentarily distracted. Speak slowly and clearly so that he can write down all the dispatch information correctly.

Telephone Dispatch

The telephone dispatch line is used to dispatch in-quarter companies to all types of incidents. For Single or Med type incidents, it's the only method of dispatching in-quarters companies.

Singe or Med

Single company and medical incidents are dispatched over the fire department's internal dispatch telephone system. Here is the sequence:

  • Depress the DISPATCH telephone button
  • Press the appropriate station codes
  • Wait until all fire stations have picked up the telephone, as indicated by the numbered lights below the DISP line button.
  • When the station(s) answer
  • Give them the incident information, for example:

"Engine 5 and Rescue 13, we have an unconscious person, 1402 Ward, phone.. apartment #5, 1402 Ward in apartment #5. Engine 1 is also responding."

Note that you do not give the cross-street or map page number during a singlecompany dispatch via telephone. If the officer has a question about the location of the incident, he/she will ask you.

For Full-Assignments

All full-assignments are broadcast simultaneously on the dispatch telephone system, and radio channels 1 and 3. Here is the sequence:

  • On radio channel 1 broadcast, "All unit, switching to channel 3 for a full assignment at (location).
  • Select radio channel 3
  • Press the "All Call" pager button
  • Press the "Call" pager button, wait until the tones are broadcast
  • Re-select radio channel 1. Radio channels 1 and 3 are now simul'd
  • Depress the DISPATCH telephone button
  • Press the "09" telephone keys
  • Wait until all fire stations have picked up the telephone, as indicated by the numbered lights below the DISP line button. If necessary, tell the answering stations, "Stand by for a full assignment."
  • Press the master transmit button so channels 1 and 3 are transmitting
  • Give the incident information, for example:

"Sending a full assignment for fire in the apartment, 3101 Florence, number 318, cross-street 63rd St., map 13-David. Companies due are engine 5, engine 3, engine 2, truck 1, paramedic 113 and chief 5."

  • De-select radio channel 3
  • Wait 30-45 seconds and give the radio verification (see below)

On the Air

If the company due to an emergency is on the air, on channel 1 broadcast "Engine 5, a code 3 run." When the company answers, broadcast the normal dispatch information to them once. The company will repeat back the address and the location from which they are responding. If other companies are being dispatched, give the on-the-air unit their location so they may be alert for them at intersections. For example...

"Engine 5, a code three run. [Engine 5, go ahead.] Engine 5, an unconscious person, 1601 Wilson St., apartment number 5. Rescue 13 is responding from quarters. [1601 Wilson, number 5. responding from Timber and Oak.] Engine 5 check."

Give the on-the-air unit's location to any other units responding. Again, if you send a unit out of its district, alert them by saying "Engine 5, in district 3, an unconscious person.....".

If all necessary apparatus due to a full-assignment is on-the-air, you should contact them on the radio and tone all firehouses to give them the information. This will alert the in-station units that a full-assignment has been dispatched and to stand by for requests for additional equipment.

By Radio, Backup

Normally, all dispatching is done on the dispatch telephone system. However, if that system becomes inoperable, you must dispatch using the channel 3 radio paging system.

First, prepare channel 3 for paging by SELECTing it. Press the "All Call" paging button, the the "Call" button. The tones will be broadcast and the pager ID number will appear in the clock display. After the appropriate tones have been broadcast, press the channel 3 XMIT button and broadcast the unit(s) to respond, the location and the nature of the emergency on the radio twice, at a slow and steady speed, using the format...

units due, situation, location, cross street, map page

For example...

[tones for station 5 and station 2] "Dispatching Engine 5, Rescue 12 to an unconscious person. 2150 Lakeview, radio.. apartment four, cross street Phoenix Ave., map page 12-David."

Note that you use phonetics for any letters that you broadcast for apartments, map pages, etc. You should also pronounce each number in an address individually at least once, as in "two-one-five-zero", in order to reduce confusion. Likewise, if you dispatch to a numbered street, pronounce it without the suffix at least once, as "1741 number six street."

Sending a unit out of its district could cause some confusion for the alerted company. To make it clear they are being sent to another district--most likely because that district's company is out of service--insert the phrase "in district X" after you give the units due. For example...

radio.. "Engine 5, in district 1, water control, broken hydrant, Rive Ave. & 7th Street......"

As each company responds, they will confirm their response on channel 1 by saying "Engine X responding." If a confirmation is not received within about one minutes, call the unit on channel 1 and ask "Engine 5 responding?" If they don't reply you should then consider telephoning the station to see if they are there.

When you are dispatching on channel 3, you must continue to monitor channel 1 for radio traffic, especially if other incidents are in progress. You may do this by turning up the UNSELECT speaker volume and the channel 1 module volume to an appropriate level. You may also wish to broadcast a "warning" message on channel 1 prior to SELECTing channel 3 for a dispatch, such as "All units, switching to channel 3 for a dispatch." This way field units will delay routine transmissions until you have returned to channel 1.

Radio Confirmation

In all cases, after giving the companies the information via telephone or radio, you will wait a period of about 30-45 seconds so all units are on the road and then broadcast all the information on channel 1 that you broadcast on channel 3. The channel 1 broadcast is preceded by three, one-second alert tones (single unit or EMS run), or a single, five-second tone (full assignment) and the information is repeated only once in both cases.

It's important that you wait until the apparatus is responding before broadcasting this confirmation. Otherwise, they will not hear the broadcast and its usefulness--- a double-check on the location information--- will have been lost. To help you gauge the time to wait, try to imagine the crew going to the rig, starting up and leaving the station. The location verification should be broadcast like this...

radio.. "Engine 5, Rescue 13, unconscious person, 1602 Wilson, apartment 5, cross-street Grant St., map 15-David."

Each assigned company will then confirm their response by saying "Engine 5 responding." If you do not receive a confirmation, ask them on the radio once or twice then immediately telephone the station to determine the company's status.

In the case of a full-assignment, the radio verification shall include confirmation of each company's response. Call each company in the order dispatched, and they will reply in turn. For example...

All companies, an apartment fire, 3101 Grant, cross-street 18th St., map 11-Boy. Companies due are engine 5, engine 3, engine 2 and truck 1. Engine 5? radio.. [Engine 5 responding] Engine 3? [Engine 3 responding] Engine 2? [Engine 2 responding] Truck 1? [Truck 1 responding] Chief 4? [Chief 4 responding]."

If you are working a fire where there is considerable radio traffic, do not interfere with their on-scene broadcasts by putting out a full radio confirmation for a second incident. Merely wait about 60 seconds, then ask the unit on the radio if they are responding, such as "Engine 5, are you responding?" They will respond normally. If you are working a greater alarm, you should use channel 2 for subsequent, unrelated emergencies.


The description of the problem on the radio or telephone should be short and non-personal but descriptive enough to allow the responding companies to plan their approach and tactics. For example...

unconscious person auto accident breathing problem first aid investigation of... building fire water control grass fire

The location should proceed from the general to the more specific, such as street address, business name, floor, room number, etc. For example...

"1802 Grant , the Grant Hotel, room 402, in the bathroom..."

Avoid using the format "on Allston between Milvia and Shattuck" when describing street incidents--it's confusing. Use a compass direction as "on Allston west of Shattuck". This reduces the number of involved streets, the amount of writing the officer has to do and the confusion. Also, when describing locations, give whether rear of, across from, downstairs, in addition to any address or street information.

In addition to the basic information you give each unit about each call, certain information shall be given when a special incident occurs, such as:

  • on-the-air dispatch "Engine 5 is responding from Ridgeview & Taylor"
  • crime/police-related "police are responding" or "police are on the scene" or "standby at Taylor and Wilson" or "the scene is secure; you may move in"
  • HAZMAT incident special HAZMAT response"
  • Transit incident "special transit response," and give milepost of the incident


If you receive more than one call at a time, you should dispatch each one as quickly as possible. You need not complete each task for the first incident before proceeding to the next. Just page or telephone the units which are due and notify them of the incident.


The dispatcher shall reply promptly to all radio calls from units in the field. Field units handling emergency incidents shall receive priority over other units, as their transmissions may pertain to life safety. Do not repeat transmissions that won't be acted upon by other units; for example, in quarters, in-service, out-of-district, at the corp yard. You shall repeat any transmission of a mobile unit...

  • that may have a bearing on the movement of other units; for example, Condition A/B, fire under control, on the scene with smoke showing (or other condition report), unable to respond, delayed response, etc.
  • as a means of confirmation when there is an question as to what the mobile unit broadcast.

For example...

[Engine 5 in-service.] Check Engine 5 (or) Check 5.

[Engine 3 on the scene. We have smoke coming from the second story of a two-story apartment.] Check, Engine 3 on the scene, smoke coming from the second story of a two-story apartment building.

[Truck 2, we're delayed by a train here at the railroad tracks.] Truck 2, check, delayed by a train at 3rd St.

[Engine 3, we need another ambulance and a truck company here.] Engine 3, you need another ambulance and truck company at Taylor and Tyler? [That`s affirmative, Oaktown.]

Chain of Command

You should observe the chain of command when complying with requests from field units. At most medical incidents or single-company dispatches, the engine officer is in charge. At full-assignment fires, the officer-in-charge may be from an engine or truck, or it may be one of the chiefs.

For full-assignment fires and other large incidents, the department use a "command" system of designating who is the officer-in-charge. When the first officer arrives on the scene, he will say "Engine 5 is command" or he will indicate who should take command, such as the next in company, the A/C, etc.

Command may be transferred from officer to another officer or to the A/C under specific procedures outlined in the General Orders. Each transfer will be announced on the radio and does not have to be acknowledged by the dispatcher. The procedure simplifies things for the fire dispatcher, as he/she has only to direct all inquiries or information to "command", without regard as to who it is.

You should comply with requests from all officers, but should confirm them with the officer-in-charge as follows:

[Oaktown, Engine 5. Send us the truck to this accident.] Check, Engine 5. (no one to confirm with)

[Engine 5 on the scene, Condition B, 2nd alarm.] Check Engine 5 on the scene, requesting a 2nd alarm. Chief 5, do you copy? [Chief 5 copy, send him the 2nd alarm.]

[Engine 5, Oaktown.] Go ahead, Engine 5. [This is a Condition A, Engine 5 can handle, return the other units.] Check, Engine 5 reports Condition A, Engine 5 can handle. Chief 3, do you copy? [Chief 3 copy, return the other units.] Check, recalling....

[Engine 5-X to base.] Go ahead, 5-X. [We need a fire inspector here at the scene.] Engine 5-X check. Command, do you copy they need a fire inspector? [Command copies.]

Condition Reports Whenever a full-assignment has been dispatched, other units on the air will maintain radio silence until the first-arriving company reports what they find. The official reports are as follows:

  • Condition A single unit can handle; officer should indicate which units to return
  • Condition B all units dispatched will be used
  • Condition C additional units will be required; officer should indicate what other units he requires

The fire officer's responsibility is to make this condition report to the dispatcher, who will relay it verbatim to the responding Assistant Chief. The Chief will acknowledge the report and any request that the officer made about holding or returning units. Some typical reports are...

[Engine 5-X, this is a condition A, engine 5 can handle. Return the other units.] Check, engine 5 reports condition A, Engine 5 can handle. Chief 5 copy? [Chief 5 check. Return the other units.] Check, recalling engine 2, engine 3 and truck 1. [Engine 2 in-service.] Engine 2 check. [Engine 3 in-service.] Engine 3 check. [Truck 1 in-service.] Check truck 1.

[Engine 5-X, this is condition A, food on the stove. Engine 5 and Truck 1 can handle. Return the other units.] Check, Engine 5 reports condition A, engine 5 and truck 1 can handle. Chief 3 copy? [Chief 3 copy.] Recalling....

[Engine 6, condition B.] Check, engine 6 reports condition B. Chief 3 copy Condition B? [Chief 3 copy.]

Repeat the condition report exactly as the officer gives it. If he says "small Condition B" or says "Condition A" but does not indicate which units to return, merely relay the report given to the chief, who will probably request more specific information from the officer.


The first unit arriving at a fire will go directly to the scene, while others will "stage" themselves at nearby intersections, ready to lay hose. These units will announce their arrival on the radio so that everyone will know their location and do not require a response by the dispatcher. A typical broadcast would be:

"Engine 5, we're staging at Tyler and Wilson."

Recalling Apparatus

Recalling apparatus dispatched to an incident may be done only in the following situations:

  • public safety officer on the scene makes the request
  • Oaktown fire unit on the scene makes the request
  • person making the original request calls back and indicates they have personal knowledge of the incident's circumstances and do not need a response. Ask the person "You don't want us to come?" and have them tell you "No."

In all cases, the decision to recall is not made by the fire dispatcher, but by the officer or assistant chief who is responding. The dispatcher simply relay the information to the officer or A/C and gives him the new information. The officer or A/C will then make the decision to return units, continue all units, continue only the first-due engine, etc. For example...

"Chief 3, the caller now and says that what he saw was a barbecue." [Chief 3, check. Let the first-due engine continue. Recall the other units.] "Check, recalling..."


All emergency patients are taken to either Herrick or Alta Bates, as follows:

  • Code 3 patients to the nearest hospital
  • psychiatric cases to Oaktown hospital
  • maternity cases to Wilsonville Hospital
  • pediatric cases to Children's Hospital
  • burn cases to General Hospital
  • Oaktown Hospital when the patient has no choice or there are no special circumstances

During very busy periods, either hospital may request that non-emergency patients be taken to an alternate hospital. When this occurs, they will notify the comm center and the dispatcher should notify both ambulances of the new destination hospital.


As soon as you have dispatched the nearest apparatus to the emergency, you should notify the county at 888-0490. You should give them the following information:

  • unit responding (Rescue 12 or 13)
  • response code (Code 2 or 3)
  • incident location
  • nature of incident (illness, injury, resuscitator, vehicle, person down, standby, psychiatric, other, unknown)

For example...

"County, this is Oaktown Fire. Rescue 12 is responding Code 3, 1733 Tyler, for an injury."

The county will then give you a "code eleven" number, which is a five-digit number identifying the incident for the county system. If both Oaktown ambulances are out of service, you should request backup at this time.

When the ambulance arrives at the scene, record the time on the back of the incident card. Also record the time when the ambulance leaves the scene and arrives at the hospital. These times are used by the EMT's or paramedics to judge when medications and treatments were given to the patient.

The ambulances use the MEDNET radio system to relay patient information while they are enroute to the hospital. Sometimes the radio system will be unusable and the ambulance will ask the dispatcher to relay the patient information to the hospital. They will then give you the following information on channel 1:

  • patient age, sex
  • nature of injury
  • symptoms, including consciousness, loss of blood, pain
  • medical history
  • blood pressure, pulse and respirations
  • treatment, including oxygen, CPR
  • estimated arrival time at hospital

When the ambulance crew has finished at the hospital, they will call you to obtain their times and the Code 11 number. They will indicate if they are in-service or, in cases where they have transported to Children's Hospital , that they will be in-service when they return to the city.

When the ambulance comes in-service, call the county again and tell them that "Rescue 12/13 is available." If you use another term, such as "in-service" or "10-8," they may misunderstand, as their code system is opposite from our usual meaning. If the ambulance did not transport the victim, tell the county that it was a "dry run." If you earlier requested backup, cancel it at this time.


Mutual aid may either be given to another agency or requested of another agency. All requests from another agency for fire equipment should be directed to the on-duty Assistant Chief. Likewise, all requests for mutual aid must be made by a chief officer (A/C, deputy or fire chief).

Ambulance requests from adjacent cities is not considered mutual aid and do not require prior approval by the A/C. However, any request for fire apparatus (engine, truck, HAZMAT, etc.) must be approved before dispatch.

If an incident requires more resources than are available from the Oaktown Fire Department, a chief officer will request aid from other fire departments. The process of requesting and utilizing mutual aid is explained fully in a binder, "Mutual Aid Plan."

Typically, assistance would first be requested directly from adjacent cities, such as Pineville,. If further assistance is required, a request would be made to the mutual aid coordinator for the county (currently the Pineville Fire Department). The coordinator would fulfill the initial request from other the county agencies, and subsequent requests from other counties, the state, etc.

There is a form for coordinating requests for mutual aid from other agencies. The form lists the agencies and phone numbers availalble for mutual aid. The dispatcher should complete the form for every mutual aid request, then route it to the A/C after the incident.


The cities of Oaktown, Pineville and Mapletown have entered into automatic mutual aid agreements for specific areas of the Oaktown hills, in order to provide a sufficient initial response to reports of fire.

There are four MRAs--north, central, east and south. Maps of the areas are available in the fire response binder.

During the dispatch of a full assignment, the A/C or other chief officer will advise the dispatcher that the address is within the MRA and to notify the adjacent agency. The dispatcher should then telephone Pineville FD or Mapletown FD and request a response to the MRA.

If notified by Pineville or Mapletown, the dispatcher should notify the chief and then dispatch 2 engines and the A/C to the other jurisdiction.

All radio communications to an MRA response are on channel 4, the white fire mutual aid channel (154.190 MHz). The dispatcher should direct all units to channel 4 and monitor that channel for communications.


When weather conditions present a high danger of fire, fire chief will declare a red flag day. When notified of this, the dispatcher is to make certain notifications to City of Oaktown personnel, other fire departments and UC Police. The complete list is available in the fire response binder.

On red flag days, the response to the MRA includes an automatic response from adjacent cities.

On red flag days the fire department may deploy one or more 2-person vehicles to patrol the hills looking for roadway obstructions, illegal burning, smoke and other fire hazards. These vehicles are designated "Patrol 1" and "Patrol 2."


During high fire danger weather, the fire dispatcher will obtain the danger level from the assistant chief and then post that level in CAD using the phamtom unit designation "1WTHR". The fire danger level is entered as a comment to the Available command, such as "A,1WTHR,,VERY HIGH".


You may hear fire service terms and phrases on the radio during major emergencies. Many of them are self-explanatory and will not require action on the part of the dispatcher. However, you may be required to relay, repeat or act upon certain transmissions that bear upon firefighting operations. The following are the most common phrases and terms used on the radio. You should be familiar with all of them.

  • we need a supply line lay hose from a hydrant to the fire
  • we're laying the set-up large hose connection from a hydrant
  • we're laying a big line using large (3") hose on the fire
  • we're using a peanut line using the small, hard-rubber hose on a fire
  • bring in some masks self-contained breathing apparatus
  • we need a fan used to ventilate

More terms can be found in the Appendix of the RESOURCE MANUAL.

Responding fire units can usually tell the magnitude of a fire by the size of the hose being laid by the first-in company. Usually, the larger the hose, the larger the fire.


In most cases, you need only notify the officer of the responding company when dispatching apparatus. However, in some cases you are required to notify and/or obtain approval of the Assistant Chief or other personnel, as follows:

  • full assignment, notify the Assistant Chief
  • auto accident, crime or DOA, notify the police
  • Condition B fire, notify the nearest ambulance
  • HAZMAT incident, notify A/C and others at his request
  • any alert (transit, county, fire), notify the A/C; you may notify the EMS Director or others upon his request
  • mutual aid request, notify A/C
  • greater alarm, notify those people listed on the Emergency Recall List
  • -arge area of the city without fire coverage, notify A/C
  • three or more hydrants out of service within one area, notify the A/C
  • injury to any firefighter, notify the A/C
  • fire-related death of any civilian or firefighter, notify the A/C, Deputy Chief and Fire Chief
  • mechanical problems with apparatus, notify A/C and the department apparatus maintenance officer


Whenever you learn of street closures, parades or demonstrations, block parties or police emergencies, you should notify the on-duty Assistant Chief so that he may assess the event's impact on fire department operations. In some cases, the event will not affect fire or medical responses. In other cases, alternate routes or apparatus responses will have to be devised by the A/C during the event.


Whenever the department wants to quickly notify all on-duty firefighters of important information, a chief will contact the comm center and ask that you put out a "one-one-one." The term relates to the signals tapped out on the former bell system. To contact all stations, page all stations (04) on radio channel 3. Broadcast the information slowly and clearly so that the officers may write down the information for their journal books and repeat it once.

Information which should be passed along to all stations includes:

  • fumigations
  • hydrants out of service
  • private water supplies out of service
  • sreet closures


If a unit is out of the station when you make a 1-1-1, you should note it on a card so that they may be notified when they return to quarters.

After broadcasting the information, you should record it in the "General Information" section of the fire department journal. If a hydrant is out-of-service, record that in the "Hydrant" section of the journal.


Each morning at 8:00a.m. you shall all-call the stations on channel 3 and make a radio test. You should also give any general announcements such as streets closures or fumigations. You should also give the names of those next up for overtime (see below). Between 8:00a.m. and 8:30a.m., the apparatus operators will test their rig and portable radios with the dispatcher. Reply in simple English loud and clear, very weak, scratchy, etc. On Sundays, some operators may also test Channel 2.


Dispatchers working the fire desk are responsible for hiring firefighters work overtime. This usually occurs between 0700 and 0800 for the coming day, and at 1700 for next-day overtime.

Slots for overtime are divided into a "day" segment which runs from 0800 to 1800, and a "night" segment, which runs from 1800 to 0800 the next day. Note that altho the two segments do not contain equal hours, firefighters working these shifts receive 12 hours of overtime pay.

The procedure for hiring overtime is contained in the General Order 18.2 and should be strictly followed. Questions about any hiring procedure should be directed to your supervisor before you hire. All questions from firefighters concerning overtime shall be directed to the comm center supervisor or the fire department assistant chief--fire department rules prohibit them from questioning the dispatchers directly.

Official overtime hiring policies are outlined in the General Order and they follow these general procedures:

  • The assistant chief determines the necessary overtime hiring based on who will be on vacation, who is injured, etc., then notifies the dispatcher two or more days in advance.
  • At 0700 each morning the A/C determines the necessary overtime for the on-coming shift based on who has reported off on sick leave that morning.

In both cases the A/C notifies the fire dispatcher, who records the overtime requirements on the Overtime Forms kept in the fire dispatch file cabinet.

Meanwhile, the officer at station 6 takes preferences from the firefighters for the dates they would like to work overtime, including if a day or night shift. The officer records these preferences in a book and relays them to the fire dispatcher by 2:00 p.m. each day. The fire dispatcher also records the preferences in an overtime preference log by shift (A, B and C) and by position (officer, A/O, firefighter and paramedic).

Once the overtime requirements and firefighter preferences have been determined, the overtime is hired in the following manner:

  • At 7:00a.m. each day the A/C will telephone the fire dispatcher to determine who went off on sick leave that morning. The A/C will then call back with an overtime requirements.
  • The fire dispatcher records the overtime on that day's Overtime form, carefully noting the company, position and whether a day, night or day/night position is needed.
  • The fire dispatcher telephones the station 6 officer and relays the required overtime, then confirms the next-up positions for the off-going shift. The next-up person is the one directly under the red line entered after the last overtime hiring.
  • The fire dispatcher then telephones the next-up person for the required positions and records their response (hired, refused, no contact, etc.), the date and time contacted, and the dispatcher's badge number.
  • After all the hiring has been completed, the fire dispatcher telephones the station 6 officer and relays who has been hired for the overtime openings. The fire dispatcher then confirms the next-up persons for all ranks.
  • The fire dispatcher telephones the A/C and relays who has been hired for each position.
  • Shortly before 0815 the fire dispatcher determines the next-up persons for the shift that has just come on-duty, telephones the station 6 officer to confirm it, then broadcasts that information during the 0815 pager tone test (along with any street closures).

This same process of hiring overtime occurs for vacancies that occur during the day because of injuries, sick leave or other situations.

Advance overtime is hired by the 3rd platoon fire dispatcher begining at 1700. Shortly before 1700 the fire dispatcher determines the next-up persons for the off-shift, confirms it with the station 6 officer, and then begins to telephone firefighters at the home numbers listed in the overtime book.

When contacted for overtime, you should ask the firefighter for his/her preference for station and unit if more than one overtime slot is available. If the overtime list shows that the firefighter wants to work days and only nights is available (or vice versa), then no call need be made to that firefighter. Calls continue until all overtime slots have been filled for each position.

After attempting contact, mark your number, the date and time and the code--H for "hired", NC for "no contact", R for "refused" in the appropriate slot. If a firefighter is hired, also indicate which slot they'll be working, D - for day, N - for night. Continue down the list alphabetically until all overtime slots are have been hired. When you're finished, put a red, horizontal line under the person last hired.

If a firefighter refuses overtime, fill out a "Refused Overtime" form and route it to the Assistant Chief in charge of that firefighter's shift. Then continue hiring overtime with the next person on the list. The form has spaces for the firefighter's name, the date and time and the dispatchers name.

If an overtime slot is cancelled by the A/C, the person cancelled is considered "next-up." Indicate this on the overtime list by circling the affected box in red. If more than one slot was cancelled, circle all boxes and indicate which firefighter should be considered next-up.

You must make personal contact with the firefighters to tell them that they are working. You cannot leave a message with a relative or on an telephone answering machine. Messages are sometimes lost or forgotten and the firefighter may not know they are scheduled to work. You must let the telephone ring a minimum of 5 times before marking "no contact" and you should speak into the telephone "No contact at (firefighter's name)" to create a permanent record of the attempt.

If the firefighter has a pager number listed, you should telephone that number first, and enter the number "644-6768". You should then telephone the firefighter's home number. If an answering machine answers, leave a brief message (date, time, reason for call) and then wait one minute for a response from the previous page. If you receive no call, mark the person as No Contact (NC) and move on to the next person with the appropriate preference.

If a paged firefighter calls in after the overtime has been hired, they may choose from any overtime openings that have not yet been filled. However, you should not go back and reshuffle slots already filled to accomodate the firefighter who just called in.

If you cannot complete the overtime hiring by offering 12-hour slots to the shift not working the day before, go to the shift working the day before. If you still cannot complete hiring, go back to the other shift and offer a second 12-hour shift, if applicable, to those who already accepted. If you have made "no contacts," attempt to telephone them again. Finally, if you are unable to hire all slots, contact the Assistant Chief, who will give you instructions on how to hire the open slots, possibly from the current "acting" list which is kept in the back of the overtime books.

Assistant chiefs will usually arrange for upcoming overtime one or two days in advance. Some vacancies may occur the morning that the shift works, as firefighters call prior to 7:00a.m. to report off on sick leave. These vacancies must be filled, usually from the off-going shift, prior to 8:00a.m. Sometimes, firefighters are injured or become ill while they are working. In this case, overtime must be hired immediately by calling persons at home.

An attempt is made to keep all three overtime lists even, allowing everyone an equal opportunity to work overtime. To do this, firefighters may be called at home, or they may asked while they are working at firehouses.


The City of Oaktown has developed a comprehensive plan which co-ordinates the work of both emergency and non-emergency city departments during a disaster. During a earthquake, large fire or civil disturbance representatives of all city departments will gather at the Hall of Justice "emergency operations center" (EOC). Requests for assistance, field reports and the dispatch of persons and equipment will be co-ordinated by that group. The dispatchers' role will be to maintain radio contact with field units and to relay field reports and dispatches to and from the EOC. The Oaktown Disaster Plan should be consulted for all aspects of dispatch operations during a major emergency.


During a large emergency, the Assistant Chief, Deputy Chief or Fire Chief may instruct you to recall firefighters to duty. You should then consult the current overtime book and begin calling firefighters in the order listed, from the person who is next up. If you reach a firefighter, his appearance for duty is mandatory. For this reason, you should log all persons called and the result in the "Information" section of the fire dispatch position journal. When you reach a firefighter, tell him "You're being recalled to duty. Report to station X." If a firefighter indicates that he/she won't come in, log that fact and call the next person on the list.

When the emergency situation is over, you should fill out a "Emergency Call-Back" Form for each person that you called. The form contains spaces for Call-Back" Form for each person that you called. The form contains spaces for the person's name, time they were called, where they were assigned and when they were relieved. After being completed, these forms should be forwarded to the Deputy Chief.


It is the fire department's policy to safeguard personal information about its employees. Callers wanting to speak to on-duty firefighters shall be transferred to the appropriate station or given the Centrex number to call.

Callers wanting to know the home telephone number of fire department employees should be identified (friend, wife, other firefighter, etc.) and the employee's telephone listing checked for the access code (A, F, NO). An "A" indicates that the number may be given out to anyone with a legitimate need to know. An "F" means that it may be given only to other firefighters. A "NO" indicates that the number may not be given to anyone, including other firefighters, whether on-duty or not.

If the caller claims to be a Oaktown firefighter but you don't recognize the voice, you may ask for a telephone number to call back, then check to see if that number matches the current personnel listing. Any questions about telephone numbers should be directed to the on-duty A/C.

The Assistant Chief may be given any telephone number after being told the access code listed. In no case shall firefighters addresses or other personal information be given out to anyone without the permission of the Assistant Chief.


The only information about past incidents considered to be public is the incident number, time, location, disposition, loss and units responded for Dispatchers may tell callers the location, alarm level, structure type and brief condition report (just arrived, under control, still fighting the fire, etc.) of fires in progress. You should direct all other inquiries about current incidents to the administrative assistant chief if on-duty or the Assistant Chief. In no case may you comment on the cause of the fire, the statements of callers reporting the fire or other witnesses or on any physical evidence found.

If a Public Information form is completed by the A/C on any incident, you may give press callers the information contained on the form. Further questions should be directed to the appropriate A/C.

Callers from insurance adjustors regularly call the comm center inquiring "Were there any structure fires today?" You may give these caller's the same information as other citizens--the date, time, address, listed cause and loss.


The City of Oaktown operates an AM radio station that continuously broadcasts information about street closures and civic events. During an emergency, the station would be used to relay evacuation routes, street closures and other response information. The station is low-powered but can be heard in most areas of Oaktown. It broadcasts on 540 on the AM radio dial.

The station information can be updated by designated persons. During an emergency, you may direct callers to tune to the radio for information.


During office hours, most fire department administrative personnel carry pagers that may be activated from the comm center. If you are requested to page someone, look up the correct pager number and enter it on the pager touch-tone pad, then select channel 1. Press the "P"age button and, after the tones are broadcast, press the transmit button on channel 1 and give the voice message. Be sure that you have channel 1 SELECTed on the radio console and not channel 3 when alerting personal pagers.

A list of current pager codes is kept beneath the glass at the fire dispatch console.


Several Oaktown city departments use a "local government" (LG) radio channel which can be operated from the fire department radio console. The most common department using the channel are streets & sanitation, parking enforcement, electrical, parks and marina.

During the weekday hours of 7:00a.m. to 4:30p.m., the local government channel is monitored by each individual department and is not monitored at the fire console. However, radios in parking enforcement vehicles are equipped with a "burst tone" device which, when activated by the operator for an emergency, brings the local government channel to full volume at the fire console. The field operator may then broadcast a message that will be heard by the fire dispatcher. The LG receiver is reset to normal volume when the dispatcher makes any transmission on LG.

During the hours 4:30p.m. to 7:00a.m. daily and 24-hours on weekends and holidays, the fire department dispatcher shall monitor the local government radio channel at all times, either thru the headset or the UNSELECT speaker. You do this by turning up the volume on the LG VHF module. Broadcasts on the LG UHF channel are repeated on the VHF, so there is no need to monitor the UHF channel, too. Control and operation of the LG channel is exactly as described for the other radio channels.

Each city department is assigned call numbers in series as follows:

electrical 100
streets 200
parks 300
sanitation 500
radio techs 700
parking enf 800
marina 900

After office hours, you may receive calls from the city's answering service (644-6620) requesting that we try to reach city work crews on the local government channel. Usually this will involve the sewer crews, unit 227.

Occasionally, field units will radio the fire dispatcher after office hours to ask for assistance locating a call, for police assistance or to report accidents or emergencies. You should remain alert for emergency calls on the LG radio channel and immediately dispatch the necessary help.

If citizens or fire units in the field report broken street lights, traffic signals, trees blocking roads or other hazardous conditions handled by other city departments, notify the city's answering service, who will notify the proper department.


The fire department also participates in many non-emergency activities that the dispatcher must monitor and record.

Drill Tower Each company has a monthly schedule of training which takes place at the fire department's training facility, or drill tower, adjacent to Station 6 at 999 Cedar. While a company is at the drill tower, they are considered unavailable for emergency incidents. However, should a large emergency occur, notify these companies and they will then make themselves available for further incidents. You should make a note of a unit's in- and out-of-service times while they are at the drill tower, as the officer will ask for them later.


All fire companies participate in inspections of commercial buildings within their district. During these inspections, the apparatus will be available on the air. One or more firefighters will be away from the rig, usually inside buildings. However, the apparatus operator will stay with the rig and will always be monitoring the radio. Be aware that companies responding from building inspections may be delayed in their response, as firefighters will have to respond to the rig from a distance.


Apparatus is maintained and repaired by the city's Equipment Maintenance personnel. Scheduled maintenance is performed after 6:00p.m. and is usually completed by midnight. Emergency repairs may take place at any time.

Mechanics may call the comm center to leave messages that certain apparatus is available to be picked up. If these calls are received before 10:00p.m., notify the company officer immediately. If the call is received after 10:00p.m., make a note and notify the company officer the following morning.

Other Classes

At times firefighters will take CPR, first aid or other classes during the day. In some cases an entire company will be out of service during the class and will be unavailable for incidents. At other times the A/C will juggle the staffing so that companies remain in service. The A/C will tell you when these classes are scheduled, if the companies are available and where the classes are being held (Herrick, drill grounds, etc.) in case you need to contact the firefighters.


The fire department depends a great deal on other public and private agencies to assist in handling emergencies. Each agency has its own set of procedures and area of responsibility which the fire department must recognize. Listed here is a short summary of each agency's duties. Specific information can be found in the Resource Manual.

Power Utility responsible for all gas and electric emergencies; not responsible for problems on private property (beyond the gas or electric meter). They have emergency responses, ETA's depend on time-ofday, who's on-call and other pending emergencies.

Water Company handles hydrants (not UC or Cutter Labs) and water main problems; doesn't handle private property plumbing problems. Has emergency responses, ETA's like PG & E. The county co-ordinates ambulance services, mutual aid fire protection, Sheriff has diver rescue/recovery team, animal control for emergency help with wild animals. Responds 24-hours, ETA's vary.

Oaktown Ambulance under contract with the county provides emergency service to north and west Oakland, provides back-up when both of Oaktown's ambulances are out of service, provides routine transport for Oaktown patients. Immediate emergency response, routine ETA's vary. U.C. police..protects campus and off-campus university property, patrols Strawberry Canyon hill area. Responds 24-hours.

LBL fire protects all LBL property, responds to Grizzly-Centennial hill emergencies. Responds 24-hours. E.B.Parks....protects Tilden Park and adjacent wildland area. Responds 24-hours, altho winter and night response is delayed or limited.

Coast Guard responsible for water safety in the Bay, spills of toxic material in inland waters that end in the Bay. Responds 24-hours, altho over-water time could be slow.

Alarm co.'s provide alarm and watchman service to private companies for a fee. Some companies contract for "runner" service where alarm company responds with keys, others do not. ETA's vary.

Answering Service the city contracts with a private answering service to handle service after-hours telephone inquiries. The service is supplied with a current call list for all city departments and have telephone and pager numbers of key personnel. You may request them to notify other city departments and they will call asking you to contact city employees on the LG radio.

When reporting incidents to outside agencies, it's important to describe the situation as specifically as possible so they may determine the priority of the call and what people and equipment to send. When asking for an ETA from these agencies, understand that many factors determine how fast they can and will respond. Giving them specific information insures the quickest response.