title

logo

FDNY Dispatch Policy

From time to time, I receive queries asking for the FDNY response to certain alarm types. It is difficult to put into a simple web page what takes us 4 weeks of classroom training to memorize. Therefore, what follows below is a basic description of typical alarms.

Before I proceed I must define the term "transmit the box" as it is used by us. This term is a holdover from when we transmitted signals by telegraph. When the central office received an alarm, we would transmit that box by telegraph to the firehouses in the area. The units receiving that transmission would look at the alarm assignment card (also called run cards) to see who is to respond. Only the first two due engines, first two due ladders, and first due battalion chief respond to this signal. If any of those units are not available at the time of the transmission, that number of units reduces the alarm response, except for battalion chiefs. One chief must respond to all box transmissions.

For example, the first two due engines and ladders to Brooklyn box 4106 are E309, E323, L159, and L157. If all of these units are available, the response is 2 + 2. If, however, L159 is on another run, the response is now 2 + 1. If none of the first two due units is available, the minimum response is 2 + 1 from as far down the alarm assignment card as we have to go to find an available unit.

The entire dispatch policy fills several volumes of 3-ring binders in the office. To fully describe them here would consume too much space on my server so here it is in a nutshell:

1 Engine
  • brush fires
  • outside rubbish fires
  • downed wires
  • residential refrigerant leaks
  • CFR runs
  • medical alert central station alarms
  • other non-structural outside fires
1 Ladder
  • water leaks
  • downed trees/limbs blocking the street
  • loose or hanging cornice
  • stuck occupied elevators
  • lock ins/outs
  • other incidents where ladders or tools may be needed
1 Engine + 1 Ladder
  • car fires
  • struck pedestrian
  • vehicle collisions
  • elevated railroad ties (el ties)
  • automatic alarms (CO, smoke, fire) in a private residence
  • gasoline leaks on the street
  • any other incident occurring on a street
  • any incident where both units may be needed (i.e., stuck elevator with a injured passenger)
Box Transmission
  • report of a structural fire
  • mechanical street box activation
  • natural gas leaks

Response to certain 10 codes and signals

10-75
  • 4 engines
  • 3 ladders
  • 2 battalion chiefs
  • 1 rescue if available
  • 1 squad if available
Signal 7-5 (using all hands)
  • 4 engines
  • 3 ladders
  • 2 battalion chiefs
  • 1 rescue
  • 1 squad
  • 1 deputy chief
  • 1 RAC unit
Second alarm (signal 2-2)
  • 8 engines
  • 5 ladders
  • 4 battalion chiefs
  • 1 rescue
  • 1 squad
  • 1 deputy chief
  • 1 RAC unit
  • 1 satellite
  • safety battalion
  • SOC battalion
  • 1 tactical support unit
  • field comm
Third alarm (signal 3-3)
  • 12 engines
  • 7 ladders
  • 5 battalion chiefs
  • 1 rescue
  • 1 squad
  • 1 deputy chief
  • 1 RAC unit
  • 1 satellite
  • safety battalion
  • SOC battalion
  • 1 tactical support unit
  • field comm
  • mask service unit
Fourth alarm (signal 4-4)
  • 16 engines
  • 9 ladders
  • 5 battalion chiefs
  • 1 rescue
  • 1 squad
  • 1 deputy chief
  • 1 RAC unit
  • 1 satellite
  • safety battalion
  • SOC battalion
  • 1 tactical support unit
  • field comm
Fifth alarm (signal 5-5)
  • 20 engines
  • 11 ladders
  • 5 battalion chiefs
  • 1 rescue
  • 1 squad
  • 1 deputy chief
  • 1 RAC unit
  • 1 satellite
  • safety battalion
  • SOC battalion
  • 1 tactical support unit
  • field comm
All subsequent alarms, add:
  • 4 engines
  • 2 ladders
Signal 10-60
  • 8 engines
  • 4 ladders
  • 6 battalion chiefs
  • 2 deputy chiefs
  • 2 squads (one must be Squad 1 w/TRV)
  • tactical support unit
  • rescue battalion
  • Haz-Mat battalion
  • safety battalion
  • FAST unit
  • 2 collapse task forces
  • 2 SOC support ladders
  • SOC logistic support van
  • SOC compressor truck
  • 1 satellite
  • 1 RAC unit
  • mobile command center
  • air recon chief
  • 1 EMS division chief
  • 2 EMS division captains
  • 1 Haz-Tac officer
  • 4 BLS ambulances
  • 1 logistic support unit
  • 1 MERV
  • 1 MRTU
  • 1 EMS deputy chief
  • 3 EMS conditions officer
  • 2 ALS ambulances
  • 1 OMA response physician

There are dozens of specialized responses for certain situations like: building collapses; water/SCUBA jobs; incidents on highways, bridges, and tunnels; haz-mat incidents; leaks from burried gas pipelines; tank farms; hi angle rescues; fires in high rise buildings.

Just as there are a million stories in the naked city, so too are there a million responses (figuratively speaking). These are just a few of them.