More on the Metropolis Fire Department
As with police departments, every fire department is different and Metropolis is unique for both its density and the presence of arson- and fire-starting individuals and technologies in the city. However the closest real world model for the Metropolis Fire Department will be FDNY (Fire Department of New York). Wikipedia Entry: New York City Fire Department. MFD and FDNY cover much the same area (New York is smaller, with five boroughs instead of six, 221 stations (as opposed to Metropolis's 240), and 11,400 uniformed officers and firefighters (12,500 for Metropolis.)
Like the Metropolis Police Department, the Metropolis Fire Department is stated to be the best of the best. Due to Metropolis's excellent economy, pay-rates should be comparable to any other major municipality. Also, the MFD leads the world in fire-abatement research and continues to lead the field in the use of state-of-the-art fire abatement and rescue equipment.
As with the FDNY, MFD is divided into borough commands corresponding to the political boundaries of the city. Each borough has a Borough Chief who answers to the Chief of Fire Operations and is responsible for the activities in his/her area. Each Borough is then divided into operational units.
- Division - Four to seven battalions, typically about 1,000 men. There are 10 divisions in the MFD.
- Battalion - Five to eight companies, typically about 180-200 men
- Company - Nominal strength of 1 captain, 3 lieutenants, 25 firefighters
- Unit - The members of the company on call during a given shift
Each fire company in the Department is assigned a specific number of personnel, including a Captain, several lieutenants and a group of firefighters ("company assignments"). Each company has slots for 1 Captain, 3 Lieutenants, and 25 firefighters, although a company may not carry a full roster.
- New Troy - 55 stations (4 divisions [2 shared with Park Ridge])
- Queensland Park: 70 stations (3 divisions)
- Bakerline: 50 stations (2 divisions)
- Parkridge: 35 stations (2 divisions both shared with New Troy)
- Hellsgate: 15 stations (1 division shared with St. Martins)
- St. Martins: 15 stations (1 division shared with Hellsgate)
The above includes marine, rescue, HazMat, and other special units.
The Metropolis Fire Department Rescue Companies are the people trained handle entrapments and other such emergencies. They are armed with a vast array of tools and equipment and in the hands of well trained and experienced Rescue firefighters, these tools allow a Rescue Company to operate effectively at a wide assortment of fires and emergencies. Due to the number and diverse nature of the tools and equipment carried by a Rescue Company, many refer to the Rescue Rig as a Rolling Toolbox.
In addition to firefighting, a Rescue Company is trained and equipped to respond to numerous types of emergencies, including:
- motor vehicle extrications
- machinery/equipment entrapments
- confined space incidents
- high angle incidents
- SCUBA operations
- subway/train emergencies
- water emergencies
- structural collapse events
- trench collapses
Each borough has its own Rescue Company, although many members of regular units are also trained in rescue procedures.
The Metropolis Fire Department includes 3300 Emergency Medical Technicians, Paramedics and Supervisors assigned to the Bureau of Emergency Medical Service (EMS), as well as 1500 civilian employees.
In addition to firefighting, rescue and HazMat, the Metropolis Fire Department stations ambulances throughout the city and supplies paramedics and EMTs. In conjunction with ambulances run by participating hospitals and private companies, this is known as the MFD EMS Command, one of the largest (if not the largest) pre-hospital care providers in the world, responding to over 1.5 million calls each year. All of the MFD EMS Command members are trained to the HazMat Operations level. Some EMS units are trained to the HazMat Technician level allowing them to provide emergency medical care and decontamination in a hazardous environment. This is in addition to their normal 911 duties.
MFD communications office
The initial call to the MFD communications office (either transferred from the MPD 9-1-1 operator or other means) is usually taken by the Alarm Receipt Dispatcher (ARD) who speaks with the caller in order to determine the nature of the emergency. The ARD enters the information into the Starfire computer system, which gives a recommended response based on the information provided. This information is then transferred to the Decision Dispatcher (DD) who decides what units will be assigned to the incident.
When the Decision Dispatcher has made a decision the information is transferred to the supervisor who checks the information to make any changes. The information is also passed to the voice alarm dispatcher who announces the call over the voice alarm to the units in the station and to the radio-in/radio-out dispatchers who transmit the call via radio to the units (the radio in dispatcher inputs information into the CAD [Computer-assisted Dispatch] while the radio out dispatcher talks to the unit).
The entire process from initial notification until a unit is dispatched takes approximately 25-30 seconds.
Each address in the city is assigned a box number, based on the closest ERS (Emergency Response System) marker or "dummy" box. This gives the companies en route the information on where to go. Rather than say "Respond to a telephone alarm at 123 4th St.", the units get assigned to a box # - "Respond to telephone alarm, box: 1234." The companies responding get the address and box number over the air, and via their mobile data terminals (MDTs) in the cab of their unit. With all the radio traffic clogging the Metropolis fire frequencies, the box system saves time, and shortens the duration of radio transmissions.
Critical Information Dispatch System
CIDS refers to the Critical Information Dispatch System (pronounced "Sids"). CIDS information is transmitted to units en route and contains information that has been collected on a building during inspections which might have an impact on fire-fighting operations. Such things as:
- warehoused apartments
- type and length of line stretch (or hose)
- number of apartments per floor
- unsafe conditions, standpipe conditions
- anything else the company deems important.
This information is printed on the run ticket and can be read by the dispatcher if requested. This information is also read automatically when a signal 10-75 (working fire) is given or when, due to the number and quality of calls, the dispatcher believes a 10-75 will be given on arrival.
FDNY 10 codes
Brief overview of Dispatch Policy
In a 24 hour period, a city the size of Metropolis can expect more than 100 fires that require the presence of the fire department. This is approximately 1/9th the total number of calls to the MPD (1/16 of all calls are malicious false alarms). This number will go up during times of unrest and in winter (due to the greater use of heating fires and candles). Of this number, about a quarter will be investigated by the Metropolis Fire Department Fire Marshals. Statistically, about half of the investigated fires will turn out to be arson. Approximately 56% of all in-the-city fires are structural fires (both residential and non-residential). The leading causes of all fires are incendiary/suspicious (arson) 25%, cooking (15%), and open flame (11%). Arson and smoking combined cause about 45% percent of fire all related deaths.
For writers: Arson is generally defined as the malicious and willful burning of a structure or property. Burning does not necessarily mean the destruction of said structure or property. The pattern of the fire setting and other evidence at the scene will give some insight as to the motives behind an arson fire. Keep in mind that the following is vastly over-simplified but anyone deliberately setting a building on fire for any reason (other than practice burns by a fire department) is seriously disturbed and has little or no regard for human life. Fire is a dangerous thing - a small, seemingly insignificant flame can erupt into a fatal conflagration within seconds.
- Pyromania: not a scientifically accurate term but a catchall for anyone (probably male, undoubtedly psychologically disturbed) who sets fires for sexual gratification, fascination with fire, or simply the 'thrill'. A fire-starter in this category may be as young as four years old. Many 'pyros' harbor a desire to either out-wit the firefighters and/or police, or to set up situations where they can be the 'hero', ie. calling in the fire, putting it out themselves, or rescuing endangered persons.
- Concealing a previous crime: a fire set to conceal a previous crime will be set to do just that. The fire will be set to destroy the body - most likely in a mattress to fool the investigators into thinking it was a smoking related fire - or to destroy such things as records, company books, or even art work if the fire is meant to cover a burglary.
- Insurance Fraud: Buildings are frequently set fire to in order to collect insurance and/or to force tenants out so the building can be renovated and re-let at higher prices. In this case, the fire is very likely to be set high in the building - a building without a roof is more likely to be 'totaled' by an insurance company than one with equal damage but with a roof. A fire started high in the structure also means that (in theory) fewer people are endangered and the water from drowning the fire will add to the damage.
- Extortion, Intimidation: As with insurance fraud, the perpetrator probably doesn't want anyone dead. These fires are set to scare, to send a message. But as with fire in general, things can get dangerously out of hand very quickly.
- Revenge, Murder: While a revenge fire may not be meant to kill, very often it is. Some of the most horrific deaths by fire have been as a result of revenge, including the torching of filled-to-capacity night clubs and restaurants.
- Sabotage, Business Rivalry: Torching a business rival to shut them down or to sabotage a project may seem like a fairly innocent application of arson - but setting fires is never an innocent thing. Firefighters are put at risk as well as the rival's employees.
In many municipalities the fire marshal is in charge of building inspections. Not so in Metropolis where building fire safety inspections are handled by local fire units. This allows the local units to be familiar with the structures and conditions in their area. All pertinent information is then inputted into the master building information system which includes information on all authorized building changes, buildings under construction, demolitions, and other information from both the Department of Buildings. Information can also be added by MPD officers, especially those assigned to any one of the nine Police Service Areas of the Metropolis Housing Bureau. (The Housing Bureau serves to protect 450,000 persons living in public housing throughout the city. These officers do vertical patrols to deter illegal activities in stairwells, hallways and roofs.)
Fire Marshal is a rank between that of firefighter and fire lieutenant and roughly equivalent to a police sergeant. MFP Fire Marshals work out of the Bureau of Fire Investigation, and may also be assigned to the MPD-FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). All Metropolis Fire Marshals have graduated from the MFD Fire Academy, and must also attend the MPD Police Academy for training in basic law enforcement, criminal investigation and the use of firearms. The marshals of the MFD have the statewide status of full-time police officers, carry firearms both on and off duty, and make arrests for fire department related and occasionally non-fire department related crimes. They may also be asked to do internal affairs investigations in the MFD if criminal activity is suspected.
In the event of an arson-related homicide (either deaths directly due to the fire or a fire set to cover up a murder), the fire marshal will work closely with the homicide detectives and Bureau of Fire Investigation officers assigned to the investigate the crime.
Books on the Subject
Fires and Firefighting
|Report From Engine Co. 82
The classic on American firefighting Dennis Smith
|Firefighters: Their Lives in Their Own Words
interviews with the people on the front lines Dennis Smith
|The Last Men Out: Life on the Edge at Rescue 2 Firehouse
Life on the Edge at Rescue 2 Tom Downey
|Blaze: The Forensics of Fire
Real world examples of how fires are investigated Nicolas Faith
|Braving the Flames: Their Toughest Cases In Their Own Words
|Heat: Fire C.S.I. and the War on Arson and Murder
|Combating Arson-For-Profit: Advanced Techniques for Investigators
David J. Icove, Vernon B. Wherry, J. David Schroeder
|Crime Scene Investigations - Arson
(Crime Scene Investigations) Juvenile Gail Stewart
|Crime Scene Investigations - Bombings
(Crime Scene Investigations) Juvenile Gail Stewart
|Fundamentals of Fire Phenomena
the Science of fire for engineers and fire safety students James G. Quintiere
|Principles of Fire Behavior
the Science of fire for fire fighters and fire safety students James G. Quintiere
|An Introduction to Fire Dynamics
the Science of fire for engineers and fire safety students Dougal Drysdale
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