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Frequently Asked Questions


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How long does it take a fire engine to get to a fire or medical emergency after 9-1-1 has been called?

It takes between 5-7 minutes for engines to arrive on scene after a 9-1-1 call has been placed.

What can I do to protect my home from wildland fires?

To protect your home from wildfires you must create a safety zone or firebreak by reducing the amount of dead or dying fuel (vegetation) around your home. This does not necessarily mean all vegetation should be removed.

In fact, having fire-resistant plants and trees around your home that are properly trimmed and well watered can serve as a firebreak.

For a list of things to do to protect your home from wildfires, call the Communications and Public Affairs department at (714) 573-6200.

Where can I get first aid classes?

The American Red Cross offers classes in first aid. For information, call (714) 835-5381.

What do firefighters do when they are not on calls fighting fires?

Training takes up a good deal of their time when they are not on call. Firefighters are required to have at least 20 hours of emergency-related training each month. Firefighters also participate in fire safety inspections and drive the community to become familiar with the area to reduce response time during incidents. Firefighters must also check and maintain their equipment and clean and maintain their stations. .

When there is only a small fire, why do so many fire engines respond?

The standard response to a residential structure fire includes 3 engine companies, one truck company, one paramedic unit and one Battalion Chief. If these units are not needed, they are released upon arrival. The main goal of the Orange County Fire Authority is to protect lives and property and this level of response is needed to accomplish this goal.

How do I go about drawing up an escape plan for my home/business?

The four basic steps to draw up an escape plan for your home includes: draw a floor-plan of your home; agree on a meeting place; practice your escape plan; and make your exit drill realistic. For a brochure on Exit Drills in the Home, call the OCFA Communications and Public Affairs department at (714) 573-6200.

A member of my family is disabled. What does he/she do during a fire?

Assure that you have a well-defined escape plan. Make sure that people who are confined to a wheelchair have immediate access to their wheelchair when an emergency occurs. Call your local police department to make sure the person's special needs are in the 9-1-1 dispatch system.

What is the best thing to do for a burn?

Cool a burn with water. Do not use ointments, butter or other substances. For minor burns contact a physician. For serious burns, dial 9-1-1 immediately.

When I go on vacation, should I let the fire department know?

Contact your local law enforcement agency when leaving for vacation. Leave an emergency number with your neighbors where you can be contacted in case the OCFA must respond to an incident at your home. Also leave a key with a responsible party and let the OCFA know who the party is in case we have to gain access to your home while you are gone.

What kind of fire extinguisher should I buy?

Homeowners should buy an extinguisher that can handle class A-B-C fires. They should be designed to extinguish fires that usually occur in homes; including wood, paper, flammable liquids and electrical fires. Call (714) 573-6200 for a fire extinguisher brochure.

Do I need to put a smoke alarm in every room? How many do I need?

Smoke alarms should be placed outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. On floors without bedrooms, alarms should be installed in or near living areas such as dens, living rooms, or family rooms. For more information, check out our Smoke Alarm & Home Escape Plan.

Why do I have to dial 9-1-1? Can't I call the fire station direct and save time?

The 9-1-1 emergency system is designed to save valuable seconds. When you dial 9-1-1, the system routes the police or fire unit that is closest to your home. Fire stations are not properly equipped to take emergency calls and calling the station directly actually wastes response time.

What should I do during an earthquake?

If you are indoors, stay there. Get under a desk or table, or crouch down along an inside wall or hallway. If you are outdoors, get into an open area away from trees, buildings, walls and power lines. If you are driving, pull your car to the side of the road and stop. Avoid overpasses or power lines. Remain inside until shaking is over. If you are in a highrise building, stay away from windows and outside walls. Get under a table. Do not use elevators.