World of Firefighters

Some of the world HOT SPOTS and Fire Department structures taken from Wikipedia

Fire is obviously a worldwide problem

Hot Spots around the world show the need to solve fire problems, and all our fire departments are focused on the same things; contain, control and eliminate fire problems.

If we work closer together, we may be able to do better work, we are all different, but we are all probably more alike than we are different. Learning about others, sharing what we learn and what we know can only benefit us all, so we hope to use this site, all our sites, all our resources to reach the goal of unifying firefighters worldwide.

Some of the Fire Departments and Organizations of the World

Source: taken from Wikipedia

As firefighting has a rich history throughout the world, traditions in this profession vary widely from country to country.

Australia [edit]

In Australia, fire services are state/territory organisations. In several states, there are three principal fire burning organisations. One is salaried and (primarily) handles urban areas one is (primarily) volunteer and (primarily) handles rural areas and the other is government managed public land (mainly forests and plantations).

In Western Australia, FESA is the overarching body. The fire services consist of:

  • Career Fire and Rescue Service – salaried staff. Abbreviated to FRS or CFRS.
  • Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service. Abbreviated to VFRS.
  • Volunteer Bush Fire Service. Abbreviated to BFS.
  • Volunteer Fire Service – VFRS and BFS combined and abbreviated to VFS.
  • Volunteer Emergency Service Brigades – VFRS, BFS, State Emergency Service and/or Volunteer Marine Rescue. Abbreviated to VES and previously called FESA units.

FESA funds the CFRS and VFRS vehicles, stations, equipment and training. Local government funds the others. Money for local government is sourced through the Emergency Services Levy.

Austria [edit]

The structure in Austria is similar to Germany. There are just 6 career fire services in Vienna, Graz, Innsbruck, Klagenfurt, Salzburg and Linz. As of 2007, some 4,527 volunteer fire departments, the back-bone of the Austrian fire service, could rely on about 320,000 men and women voluntary firefighters as active members. Fire departments exist in even the smallest Austrian villages, where they contribute to community life, usually by organizing fairs and other fund-raising activities. But also larger departments in towns from a few thousand to up to 100,000 inhabitants still largely rely on volunteers, yet some are nowadays forced to have one or more de facto career firefighters, employed by the municipality and possibly reinforced by young men who chose community service instead of the still-compulsory military service, for daily maintenance duties and to increase the availability of personnel during working hours. This is necessary, as such larger departments usually have to deal with several hundred interventions per year. In addition to volunteers and career departments, some 328 companies are required by law to run their own fire service, which may be manned by career firefighters and/or part timers who normally work on ordinary jobs in the company. This includes major airports, oil refineries, petro-chemical factories and many other businesses, even hospitals and clinics. Those departments are usually integrated in the contingency plans of the area and may therefore be called upon for reinforcing the volunteer departments outside the company grounds as well.

Brazil [edit]

In Brazil, fire services are militarized like the Sapeurs-pompiers of France. Each state has its own Military Firefighters Corps (in Portuguese: Corpo de Bombeiros Militar). Cities of southern Brazil, with traditional German communities, have had volunteer firefighters since the nineteenth century.

Canada [edit]

Large cities and most towns have full-time fire departments and firefighters (Service de sécurité incendie and pompiers in Quebec and other French speaking areas in Canada). Smaller towns and other municipalities employ part-time volunteer firefighters. All municipal fire departments are publicly operated. Private companies do operate for fire protection on private property (mostly aerospace companies and refineries). Airport fire departments are operated by local airport authorities with assistance from local departments if needed. The Department of National Defence has its own firefighters on Canadian Forces bases for security reasons. Some provinces have designated firefighting crews specially equipped to handle forest fires. Cities and towns along waterways will have marine fire capability and the former will likely have fireboats. The Canadian Coast Guard provides some marine firefighting capability off Canada’s coastline as part of the search and rescue operations.

China [edit]

Most fire departments (fire brigades) are provincial agencies (e.g. General Fire Brigade of Guangdong) in China with exceptions in BeijingHong Kong and Macau which have their own separate publicly run fire services. Airports in China (including Hong Kong and Macau) also have their own departments.

Chile [edit]

In Chilefirefighters are called “Bomberos”. They are volunteers. They also must finance the acquisitionmaintenance and operation of their buildings and equipment (including firetrucks) rather than rely upon government allocations. All the officers are democratically elected by the volunteers. The government does not finance specialization courses for firefighters. Instead, they have to pay for it on their own. ‘Bomberos’ is the name given for the firefighters in most Spanish speaking countries (‘bomba’ is the name of the water pumps).

Founded in 1851, Valparaíso’s Fire Department is the oldest of the country. Following it is the Ancud’s fire department in 1856, then are the Santiago Fire Department established in 1863 and Viña del Mar Fire Department in 1884. Now all cities have a Fire Department each of which has its own officers and companies.

Many of the companies were founded by resident members of European colonies such as the Germans, British, Spanish, French and Italians.

Costa Rica [edit]

The Benemérito Cuerpo de Bomberos de Costa Rica (Costa Rica Firefighter Corps) is the institution responsible of firefighting, fire safety and fire prevention. It protects the whole country with 70 firehouses, each with paid and volunteer personnel. Paid firefighters in Costa Rica work 24 hour shifts, while the volunteer firefighters must serve at least 40 every month.

Croatia [edit]

According to the Croatian constitution, fire-fighting is matter of local municipalities. Professional and volunteer fire-fighters are equal regarding the fulfilling their duties, but the professional fire-fighting units work on bases of the Law of Public Institutions, and the volunteer fire-fighting units on bases of the Law of Associations of Citizens. Additional 4 fire-fighting intervention-units work in 4 coastal counties in Dalmatia, and all fire-fighting units are commanded during the summer by the Center in Divulje near Split, all part of the National Directorate for protection and safety.

Specific for Croatia is also the engagement of 1.000 season fire-fighters and additional fire-fighting units on islands to protect them from wildland fires in summer.

Fire-fighting interventions are carried out by:

  • 1835 volunteer fire fighting units in municipalities and cities
  • 56 volunteer industrial firefighting units
  • 61 public city fire fighting units (professional)
  • 34 professional industrial firefighting units
  • 4 intervention units of the Ministry of internal affairs
  • Special fire-fighting forces and forces of the anti-fire escadrille of the Ministry of Defense (6 Canaders CL 415, 6 Air-tractors 802 A Fire Boss and helicopters of the type Mi-8 and 117-S of the Croatian army).

Denmark [edit]

In Denmark firefighting is, by law, a municipal task. Every municipal council are responsible for providing firefighting and rescue services. The only requirements according to the law for this fire service are that the vehicles have to be manned with the necessary crew for the task at hand and they have to be on the way within 5 minutes after the alarm has come in. Every municipality has to perform a risk analysis and based on this maintain a competent firefighting service. The fire department itself can be run as any one of the following:

  • A public fire department managed and run by the municipality either full-time or part-time.
  • A volunteer fire department contracted by the municipality
  • Arrangement with neighboring municipalities
  • Outsourced to a private company (e.g. Falck)
  • Contract with the government run Danish Emergency Management Agency (DEMA), DEMA has stations in 5 locations scattered over the country.

All fire fighters (brandmænd) have the same training, no matter if they are volunteers, full-time professionals or public or private employees. The training takes 5 weeks and can be taken in several firefighting schools all over the country.

Finland [edit]

Main article: Fire fighting in Finland

Finnish firefighters (palomiehet) are organized into professional, half-ordinary and voluntary fire brigades. Professional firefighters in Finland graduate from one of the two firefighting schools in Finland. Firefighters in half-ordinary and voluntary fire brigades are trained volunteers.

There are approximately 85,000 emergency missions a year in Finland, of which fires account for 18%. According to the Ministry of the Interior, Finnish fire brigades extinguish around 12,000 fires every year. Voluntary fire brigades have a remarkable role in the fire rescue service and cover a large part of Finland’s area.

France [edit]

The Paris Fire Brigade is a French Army unit which serves as the fire service for Paris and certain sites of national strategic importance.

French firefighters are called Sapeurs-Pompiers, and reflecting the rural nature of much of the country (wide areas with low density of population), the Volunteer Fire brigade (SPV, sapeur-pompier volontaire), with over 190,000 firefighters is the largest firefighting force in France. In addition to being called out from work to attend an incident, they may be on standby at firestations outside their working hours; the intervention and attending hours are paid by the session. The volunteer fire brigade is also a way to promote the culture of civil defense and of solidarity amongst the population. The Professional Fire Brigade (SPP, sapeur-pompier professionnel) numbers over 30,000 firefighters, employed by the départements and working in shifts. In some towns there is a mixture of professionals and volunteers, in others only one or the other.

In Paris and Marseille, the fire brigades are made up of military personnel, but under the control of the Ministry of the Interior in a similar way to the Gendarmes. The Paris Fire Brigade (BSPP) has around 7,000 firefighters, and the Marseille Marine Fire Battalion (BMPM) has over 2,000.

French firefighters tackle over 3.6 million incidents each year:

With the SAMU (French EMS), they are the backbone of the French civil defense.

Germany [edit]

Main article: German fire services

German fire brigades (Feuerwehr) are organized on a town/village basis, with each town having at least one brigade. In Germany there are about 25,000 local brigades – 24,000 volunteer fire brigades (Freiwillige Feuerwehr), 800 private fire brigades with public accreditation (Werkfeuerwehr), which mostly protect large industrial complexes or airports, many private fire brigades with no public accreditation (Betriebsfeuerwehr), and 100 public fire brigades (Berufsfeuerwehr) compulsory by law for large towns and cities. However, public brigades are often supported by and cooperate with volunteer brigades. Some volunteer brigades also have a small core of full-time firefighters paid by local community funds. Volunteer fire brigades are usually structured in three brigade categories (GrundausstattungStützpunktfeuerwehrenSchwerpunktfeuerwehren) depending on size and level of equipment. Some German fire brigades not only have firefighters, but also ambulance crews. They are estimated to have a total of 1,300,000 active members.

Hong Kong [edit]

The Hong Kong Fire Services Department (HKFSD) not only has firefighters, but ambulance crews. As of 14 May 2005, there are 8,675 uniformed personnel (including ambulancemen/ambulancewomen) and 676 civilian members. Fire Services also provides fire services to Hong Kong International AirportGovernment Flying Service provides aerial firefighting capabilities.

The head of HKFSD is called the Director but not the Commissioner. Assisted by the Deputy Director, the Director of the HKFSD is the head of three Operational Fire Commands: Hong Kong, Kowloon and N.T. (i.e. The three Districts). Each of the Commands is under the control of the Chief Fire Officer (CFO). In reality, there is one additional Command: The Heart quarters (HQ), which is under control of the CFO (HQ).

See here for more information.

Hungary [edit]

Some 7000 firemen are serving in Hungary at fire brigade unites founded by Ödön Széchenyi. Most of them are professional municipal firemen who are paid from month to month for their services. They generally work at 24/48-hour shifts, occasionally at 24/72. The second largest number of firemen can be found in the volunteer fire brigades. In Hungary volunteer fire brigades are common organizations established by a local government and a firemen’s association. The third section are the unites employed in the industrial establishments. These units may be employed full-time or part-time. Their regulation and order of duty (in case of full-time employed) is according to the professional municipal firemen and the level of safety more specialized to the characteristics of the establishment. One of the biggest establishment fire brigade units in the country, world-famous through its firefighting practices, is the FER TV association, operated and sustained by MOL Co. petrol industry in Százhalombatta.

India [edit]

In India municipalities are bound by law to have a fire brigade and participate in a regional fire service. Each city has its own fire brigade. All the industrial corporations also have their own firefighting service. Each airport and seaport has its own firefighting units. The main functions of firefighting service in India are provision of fire protection and of services during emergencies, such as building collapses, drowning cases, gas leakage, oil spillage, road and rail accidents, bird and animal rescues, fallen trees, appropriate action during natural calamities, and providing consultancy in implementing fire protection and fire safety in industries and high rise buildings and other buildings having special fire risks, etc.

See: Mumbai Fire Brigade

Israel [edit]

Main article: Israel Fire and Rescue Services

In Israel, the Israel Fire and Rescue Services is the sole authority in control of firefighting across the entire country. It also provides rescue services for victims of terrorism, car accidents, and dangerous substance spillages. There are 24 metro regions with central major fire stations along with smaller, supplemental stations in neighboring villages and cities. The Israel fire and rescue services consists of about 1,200 paid, professional firefighters and 200-400 volunteers. Israel also has 6 Hazardous Materials units, although almost all Israeli firefighters are certified at hazardous materials response and handling, many of them receiving training in world-class facilities in the Netherlands.

Republic of Ireland [edit]

In the Republic of Ireland, fire services are provided on a county-by-county, local authority basis. Apart from a small number of full-time brigades, most fire services operate a retained duty system, where firefighters are alerted to the fire station by a pager/alerter system. Retained firefighters are typically on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week apart from pre-arranged leave. Management and fire prevention duties (inspections, building assessment etc.) are carried out by a small number of senior officers in each county, usually between 4 and 10 depending on size and population.

An Irish fire brigade attends a wide variety of incidents, spanning from fire calls to flooding incidents to extrication of trapped victims at road incidents. This means that a wide variety of equipment is carried on the first-turnout appliance (ladders, hose, breathing apparatus and extrication equipment as well as a vehicle mounted pump and a 1800 litre water tank), whilst more specialised vehicles – water tankers, rescue tenders, high reach appliances etc. – are stationed at strategic locations.

At border areas, such as DonegalLouth and so on, local agreements are in place with the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service in relation to attending incidents.

Japan [edit]

Vehicles of the Tokyo Fire Department.

Japan’s first fire service was founded in 1629 during the Edo era, and was called Hikeshi (Japanese: 火消し, lit. fire extinguisher). During the Meiji Period, when Japan opened its doors to the West, the Hikeshi was merged into the police department. During this time period, pumps were imported and domestically produced, and modern firefighting strategies were introduced. In 1948, after World War II, a municipality fire service system was established.

Today, fire services are organized on a city/town/village basis. There are 894 fire headquarters (Japanese: 消防本部) and 3,598 volunteer fire corps (Japanese: 消防団). These have a total of 155,000 active career firefighters and 21,000 vehicles with 4,800 fire houses; 920,000 volunteer firefighters share an additional 51,000 trucks.

Macau [edit]

Like Hong KongMacau has their own fire department, Corpo de Bombeiros de Macau and trained like their Western counterparts. The fire department also provides fire and rescue services to Macau International Airport.

The Netherlands [edit]

In The Netherlands municipalities are bound by law to have a fire brigade and participate in a regional fire service. The local brigade is responsible for responding to all incidents; the regional fire service provides a control centre and operates the special vehicles. There are 25 “safety Regions”. These regions’ boundaries are the same for fire, police and ambulance service and most regions have a combined control centre. The regions are self-contained and can cope with most incidents, in extreme circumstances other regions will provide assistance. All emergency services rely on a single modern digital national communications network based on the Tetra standard. This makes mutual assistance between regions simple to coordinate. Unlike some other countries the ambulance service is completely separated from the fire service, although the control centre is usually shared.

About 75% of all firefighters are volunteers, the rest are professional firefighters. Although most firefighters in the Netherlands are volunteers, they all get paid. Volunteers get a small amount of money to compensate the costs, because they have to leave their jobs and take risks.

The appearance of emergency vehicles is standardized in order to keep them optimally recognisable for other road users. The basic first response unit is an engine manned by a crew of six, a commander, a driver, an attack-team and a water supply team. Aerial ladder or tower trucks are dispatched when needed. Because it is impractical to build trucks to carry all the possible types, all regional fire services across the nation use a standardized type of containers. These containers are transported by special trucks. The containers are built for specific purposes. There are containers with command and control, hydraulic submersible pumps (up to 8000 litres per minute), hoseline (up to 3 km of 150-mm hose), watertank, foamtankdecontaminationHazmatbreathing apparatus, technical rescue, etc.

New Zealand [edit]

In New Zealand, fire protection services are overseen by the New Zealand Fire Service Commission. The Commission ensures coverage through all jurisdictions nationwide and reports to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Fire Protection for urban areas is provided by the New Zealand Fire Service. This nationwide organisation was established by the Fire Service Act 1975 from the various City/Regional/District urban fire brigades in existence at the time. The Fire Service Act nationalised the service and provided the statutory authority required to fight and prevent fire and to respond to other emergencies, including hazardous substance incidents and motor-vehicle collisions.

The NZFS has a significant role in Urban Search and Rescue and contributes key resources to New Zealand’s three USAR teams, based in AucklandPalmerston North and Christchurch. They also provide first-response medical services as a backup to local Ambulance Services (especially in rural areas) and members of the Fire Police often assist the Police at emergency scenes.

In rural areas the National Rural Fire Authority is responsible for providing fire response, as covered by the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977. Rural Fire Brigades are operated by City and District Councils, where each District appoints a Rural Fire Officer who reports to the National Rural Fire Officer, who reports to the NZFSC.

Other participants in the New Zealand Fire Service Commission are the New Zealand Defence Force (responsible for fires on Military land) and the Department of Conservation (Responsible for fires in National Parks). Privately owned forestry areas are responsible for providing their own firefighting means.

There is much cooperation between the various firefighting resources in New Zealand, but it is recognized that current legislation is not very flexible – there are loopholes in the areas of funding and legal liability, among others. The Department of Internal Affairs is currently in the process of reviewing legislation for Fire and Rescue services in New Zealand, with a view to rewriting both the Fire Service Act and the Forest and Rural Fires Act.

Specialist forest fire fighters from New Zealand are often requested to provide assistance at wildfire events in Australia and the United States, where their skills in incident management are utilised within the Incident Command System.

Panama [edit]

The idea for a volunteer fire brigade in Panama began in the 1870s and was officially inaugurated on November 28, 1887. Paid firefighters did not appear until May 1, 1909. Fire protection services are divided into regional zones each with its own independent institution. They are overseen by a council of zone directors for the fire departments of the entire country. Zone 1 encompasses Panama City and its suburbs. It has about 300 permanent, paid firefighters and twice as many volunteers.

Portugal [edit]

In Portugal, volunteer fire departments are established in every town: even the biggest Portuguese cities, have volunteer firefighters besides a career fire service. Well-trained and well-equipped fire departments are based in every Portuguese municipalityAerial firefighting is widely used, especially in the forest. Video-based fire surveillance and remote monitoring systems for real-life application are used, besides fire surveillance outposts placed in strategic locations. Legislation regarding the installation and maintenance of fire detection and control in buildings is enforced. Like all the other EU member states, in which under a European Union civil-protection programme, the European Commission manages requests for help with a natural disaster and keeps tabs on what resources are available in which member state, Portugal is ready to offer support in firefighting operations in the European Union.

Singapore [edit]

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (abbreviation: SCDF; Chinese: 新加坡民防部队) is the main agency in charge of the provision of emergency services in the Republic of Singapore during peacetime and emergency.

A uniformed organization under the purview of the Ministry of Home Affairs, the SCDF provides ambulance, firefighting and emergency response services in Singapore. It also plays a major role in the Republic’s disaster relief operations.

Slovenia [edit]

The organization of firefighting in Slovenia has many similarities with firefighting in Austria, because of the historical influence. The emphasis is on volunteer fire departments which are non-profit organization by the law. As of 2008, there are 1295 volunteer fire departments and 68 industrial voluntary fire departments with more than 133,000 voluntary firefighters which represent the backbone of firefighting service in Slovenia. The activity of the volunteer fire departments is financially supported by local community, but fire departments are also allowed to collect private donations. The voluntary fire departments are also heavily involved in community activities, especially in smaller towns and villages. The general organization of voluntary firefighting service is named Gasilska zveza Slovenije.

In addition to voluntary firefighters there are also 34 career fire departments (13 of them provide public fire service in bigger cities, the rest of them on main airports and big industrial facilities, including power plants) with more than 900 firefighters. These professional firefighters are financially supported by the employers (in industry and at the airports), but public fire departments are supported by the Slovenian Ministry of Defense.

Both voluntary and professional firefighters must undergo a formal training to become qualified for the firefighting duty.

Spain [edit]

Fire brigades in Spain are different in each autonomous community with the exception of Barcelona and Madrid which have their own brigades. The Fire Brigade of Valencia is famous for having created an NGO called Bomberos Sin Fronteras (Firefighters Without Borders) which helps in any natural disaster that could happen anywhere in the world.

Sri Lanka [edit]

The fire brigades in Sri Lanka are based in large cities such as ColomboKandy, etc. These units come under the control of each municipal council. Some towns have smaller units.

All major airports and harbors maintain their own fire brigades with specialized units and training.

United Kingdom [edit]

Main article: Fire service in the United Kingdom

Fire and rescue services (FRS) in England are organized on a metropolitan or county basis, mainly owing to the reorganization of the counties in 1974. In Scotland and Wales they are on a regional basis, with eight and three FRS respectively. Northern Ireland has a single brigade, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service. The term fire brigade is largely historical with only a few FRS, including the London Fire Brigade keeping it in use. The gradual change to the term fire and rescue service has been reinforced by new legislation including the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 which mostly applies to England and Wales. The equivalent legislation in Scotland is the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005. In rural areas, there are often fire stations manned by part-time retained firefighters. In addition there are a number of independent fire services, such as the Peterborough volunteers, the Downe House School brigade and those run by large industrial concerns. As well as responding to emergencies, UK FRS also have a legal obligation by various acts of parliament covering different parts of the UK, to respond to any emergency, which can pose a threat to life, and the environment. Dealing with Urban Search and Rescue incidents was incorporated into English law in 2007, FRS are required by law to deal with An emergency involving the collapse of a building or other structure.

United States [edit]

Main article: Firefighting in the United States

Prince George’s County Fire Department Engine 553 in the foreground and Ladder 55 in the background parked at a firehouse in Brentwood, Maryland

U.S. firefighter’s work under the auspices of fire departments (also commonly called fire protection districts, fire divisions, fire companies, fire bureaus, and fire-rescue). These departments are generally organized as local or county government subsidiaries, special-purpose district entities or not-for-profit corporations. They may be funded by the parent government, through millage, fees for services, fundraising or charitable contributions. Some state governments and the federal government operate fire departments to protect their wildlands, e.g., California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), New Jersey Forest Fire Service, USDA Forest Service – Fire and Aviation Management (see also Smokejumper). Many military installations, major airports and large industrial facilities also operate their own fire departments.

Venezuela [edit]

In Venezuela, there are several types of fire brigades, which are often divided by jurisdiction. The two main types of fire brigades here are State or Municipal brigades, with many volunteer units existing as well. One of the most important paid fire departments in Venezuela is the Bomberos Metropolitanos de Caracas (Caracas Metropolitan Firefighters).

A fourth type, the University brigade, takes care of any emergency situation on a university campus. These brigades are a rapidly growing trend in Venezuela. An example of such a force is Cuerpo de Bomberos Universitarios de la Universidad Central de Venezuela (Venezuela Central University’s Firefighter Brigade), which has more than 40 years of service and combined experience. There are new institutions growing in other universities, such as the Cuerpo de Bomberos Voluntarios de la Universidad Simón Bolívar (Simón Bolívar University’s Volunteer Firefighter Brigade).

Vietnam [edit]

Vietnam Firefighting Force (Lực lượng Phòng cháy và Chữa cháy Việt Nam) is a part of Vietnam People’s Public Security. It includes 4 subbranches: Fire Militia (Dân phòng Phòng cháy và Chữa cháy), Basic Firefighter (Phòng cháy và Chữa cháy Cơ sở), Special Firefighter (Phòng cháy và Chữa cháy Chuyên ngành) and Fire Police (Cảnh sát Phòng cháy và Chữa cháy).

  • Vietnam Firefighting Force has important roles in managing, organizing and commanding tasks of fire.
  • Vietnam Firefighting Force is established on 27 September 1961.
  • Vietnam Firefighting Force is under command of Ministry of Public Security (Vietnam).
  • Each province of Vietnam has a Fire Office and each local area has a Fire Unit.