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Fire and EMS Department

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Frequently Asked Questions About DC Fire and EMS

1) What services does the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department offer?
DC FEMS is an all-hazards agency. Our mission is to preserve life and promote health and safety through excellent pre-hospital treatment and transportation, fire prevention, fire suppression and rescue activities and homeland security awareness. We provide these services through 33 engine companies, 16 ladder trucks, 17 medic units (ambulances staffed by paramedics), 22 basic life support ambulances (staffed by emergency medical technicians) and special operations vehicles, including three specialized rescue squads, a hazardous materials unit, and a fireboat unit. Our organizational chart is available here.

2) Why does a fire truck come when I call for an ambulance?
DC FEMS is a fire-based Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department, which means that the vast majority of our employees are trained in both EMS and fire suppression. All of our operational employees, which include approximately 1600 Firefighter EMTs, are certified as National Registered Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMTs). We also have almost 300 paramedics, most of whom are also firefighters, who are certified as National Registered Emergency Medical Technicians-Paramedics.

If you have a life-threatening emergency, our goal is for an EMT to arrive at your location within four to six minutes to start providing you with emergency medical care. Staffing our fire trucks with EMTs, which are strategically located in neighborhoods throughout the District, allows us to meet this goal almost 80 percent of the time. We also have 21 paramedic engine companies, which means that fire engines are also frequently staffed with a paramedic who can provide advanced life support (ALS) care within four to six minutes. For more information on response times and performance measures generally, please go here to our Performance Measures page.

3) When should I call 911?
Call 911 to request service from police, fire or emergency medical services. Examples of when you should call 911 include:

  • All fires
  • Trouble breathing or being unable to breathe
  • Symptoms of a heart attack—pain or pressure in the chest that will not go away
  • Fainting, sudden dizziness, weakness, or sudden change in vision
  • Bleeding that will not stop
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Coughing up or vomiting blood
  • Involved in a serious car accident, fall, or other violent trauma
  • Any crime in progress or where the offender is still on the scene (or has just left the scene)
  • All serious violent crimes

Visit the DC Office of Unified Communications for more educational information on 911

4) How can I evaluate the performance of DCFEMS?
Please go here to our Performance Measures page.

5) What is AMR or American Medical Response?
DC FEMS uses ambulances from American Medical Response (AMR) to transport patients whose injuries or illnesses are not time sensitive or life-threatening.

AMR was contracted in February 2016 to perform supplemental pre-hospital medical care and transportation for basic life support calls. They operate and maintain 29 private ambulances in the District using up to 25 of those units to respond throughout the city during high-call volume periods from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m., seven days a week.

DCFEMS arrives first to all 911 calls for pre-hospital medical care. Our personnel evaluates the patient to determine the level of medical care and resources required, including how the patient will be transported to the hospital.

6) Who is the Fire and EMS Chief?
John A. Donnelly, Sr. Read his Bio here. The Department’s organizational chart is here and the bios of the Department’s Executive staff are here.

7) Where is the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Headquarters located?
The Fire and Emergency Medical Services Headquarters is located at 2000 14th St. NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20001

8) Where is the Fire Marshal’s Office located?
The Fire Marshal’s Office is located at 1100 4th Street, S.W. Suite East 700 and can be contacted at 202-727-1614

9) Where do I call to sign up for CPR training?
We offer Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) training under the American Heart Association Guidelines. Contact the CPR Training Office for more information at (202) 673-6901.

DC FEMS also offers free classes on the basics of hands-only CPR and AED awareness. Hands-only CPR is a technique that involves chest compressions without artificial respiration. Studies indicate that hands-only CPR performed immediately may increase a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival. Learn more about our Hands on Hearts Program here.

10) Who do I call if I am not satisfied with Fire and EMS services?
Please call the office of the Fire and EMS Chief at 202-673-3320.

11) Why do I have to pay a fee when I use an ambulance?
Click here to visit the Ambulance Billing Questions page.

12) How do I request a copy of an ambulance or fire report for my insurance company?
Requests for fire incident reports can be submitted through the DC FOIA Portal. Requests for ambulance reports can be emailed to [email protected]. For more information, visit here,or contact our Information & Privacy Officer, Aja Oyegunle, at (202) 673-3397.

13) How can I request EMS Support for my Special Event?
Service request for special events support can be submitted online along with any and all required documentation. Contact our Special Operations Division at (202) 673-6614.

14) How can I request a fire truck for a community event?
Requests for a fire truck at a community event can be submitted to the Public Information Office at (202)673-3331.

15) What fire station is closest to my house?
A complete list of fire stations is available here, where you can enter your home address to find the station closest to your house.