Who is the FWBFD?
FWBFD is a fully career FD made up of 33 line Firefighters, the Staff consisting of Chief, administrative coordinator, Fire Marshal, and one inspector. The Fort Walton Beach Fire Department was established in 1941 with an all volunteer force, and we operated as such until the early 80′s when the department transformed into a fully career department.  Our main station is located on Hollywood Boulevard.  Station 6 houses our administrative offices, Truck 6, and Rescue 6. Our second station on Lewis Turner Boulevard houses Engine 7.  Truck 6, Rescue 6 and Engine 7 operate with at least one paramedic, and all provide Advanced Life Support Paramedic Care.

When should I call 9-1-1?
9-1-1 is only to be used in emergency situations. An emergency is any situation that requires immediate assistance from the police/sheriff, the fire department or an ambulance. If you are ever in doubt to whether a situation is an emergency you should call 9-1-1. It’s better to be safe and let the 9-1-1 call taker determine if you need emergency assistance. If you call 9-1-1 by mistake, do not hang up. Tell the call taker what happened so they know there really isn’t an emergency.

What can I do to help 9-1-1 and Public Safety?
Make sure your house number is clearly posted so that emergency responders can find you quickly. If you call 9-1-1 from a cell phone and you don’t know the address, look around for street signs, business signs, and landmarks to help identify your location. If you accidentally call 9-1-1, DON’T HANG UP!! Wait for the 9-1-1 professional to answer and let them know it was an accident.

What do firefighters do when they are not responding to fire or emergency medical calls?
Firefighters must train in some capacity every day. We are required to train an average of 20 hours a month in fire related training in areas such as:  fire ground operations, medical emergencies, Hazmat mitigation, and rope rescue.  Firefighters also conduct pre-fire plans, inspect hydrants, and maintain equipment and stations.  We also prepare meals, exercise, study and sometimes relax, but we are always prepared to answer emergency calls.

Why do the emergency vehicles run with lights and sirens, and 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 through our 9-1-1 dispatchers that the call or incident is no longer a dire emergency. It is what we call “being cancelled en route”. Any or all of the apparatus may continue to drive to the call or perhaps some will return to the station.

What is Fort Walton’s ISO (Insurance Service Organization) rating?
Fort Walton’s ISO rating is a 3. Traditionally, the insurance industry utilizes a fire protection ISO rating as one of the factors they use in determining commercial and residential fire insurance rates for consumers. The rating surveys a variety of factors including water supply infrastructure, types and maintenance of protection equipment, firefighting staffing and training, station locations, dispatching systems, etc. Fire departments are then assigned an ISO rating, beginning with the highest of 1 through the lowest of 10. ISO 3 is an excellent rating that saves our citizens money on insurance costs.

Why do so many fire trucks respond to simple incidents?
Fire Department units are dispatched according to information received by the 9-1-1 call taker. Your Fire Department responds with adequate resources to deal with the worst that could happen, since discovering that we need more units once we arrive is often too late. A structure fire requires a defined number of people to do all the assigned tasks almost simultaneously. Crews are assigned tasks such as:  fire extinguishment, search and rescue, ventilation, salvage, safety, accountability and rapid intervention (safety team to rescue fellow firefighters).

Why do firefighters break windows and cut holes in roofs when the fire is inside a building?
During a structure fire, temperatures inside a structure are often 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. By cutting a hole in the roof and/or breaking out windows, we are ventilating the building. The heat is allowed to escape through these openings thereby making it safer for firefighters to enter the building and apply water directly on the fire. This extinguishing strategy is key to stopping a structure fire quickly, and actually helps minimize damage to other rooms.

Why does a fire engine show up when I call for a medical emergency?
Many times a fire engine will arrive when an ambulance is called because it is the closest emergency vehicle to the scene. The Fort Walton Fire Department is an Advanced Life Support (ALS) First Responder agency and each of its fire stations maintain licensed Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians. By setting up our fire engines to handle all types of calls we can provide advanced emergency medical care. Therefore, we can provide whatever aid is necessary until an ambulance arrives.

What is the difference between an EMT and Paramedic?
EMT provide Basic Life Support and Paramedics provide Advanced Life Support.  ALS care consists of:  establishing I.V.s’, administering numerous life saving medications, cardiac monitoring including 12 lead, pediatric advanced life support and advanced airway management. EMT care is anything and everything of lesser skill level. You must be an EMT before you can be a Paramedic. Most local departments are BLS care providers.

We hope this information helps you to better understand YOUR local FD. Thanks for visiting!