Fire & EMS Operations
The Operations Division is responsible for safety and emergency mitigation; to protect and serve citizens. The Operations Division is the largest division of the department and is under command of the Operations Chief. This division consists of over 300 firefighters covering three 24-hour shifts in thirteen fire stations. Every day there are fourteen engine companies, nine Mobile Intensive Care Units / ambulances, five ladder companies, five water tankers, one heavy rescue, one training officer and one safety officer. The firefighters are under the direct command of one of nine battalion chiefs. In addition to emergency medical services, fires and rescues, the operations division responds to a variety of unique situations, collectively serving as the department's front line emergency medical, rescue and fire suppression response capability. Each shift is overseen by four Battalion Chiefs (three Fire and one EMS). Also available through cross-staffing are a variety of well equipped specialized units, including dive, foam, hazmat, front-country/rope rescue, urban search & rescue and water rescue. A central 911 dispatch system serves the entire Municipality and coordinates, fire and EMS response to all areas of the Municipality.
In addition to suppression duties, each engine company serves as a non-transport Basic Life Support (BLS) unit equipped with a semi-automatic defibrillator to enhance response to cardiac emergencies. The engine companies supplement the Department's Paramedics, who, in combination with Firefighter/Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT's), provide Advanced Life Support (ALS) care and transport. Likewise, all Paramedics are cross-trained as firefighters to enhance response to suppression incidents when necessary.
The Anchorage fire service area covers the immediate 100 square miles of the Anchorage bowl; EMS coverage extends throughout the 1,980 square miles of the entire Municipality. Mutual Aid agreements exist between the Anchorage Fire Department, Ted Stevens International Airport Aircraft/Rescue/Fire, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Girdwood Volunteer Fire Department and Chugiak Volunteer Fire Department. In addition, the State of Alaska Division of Forestry and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management help protect residents and property lying within the 2000 square mile Municipality during the wildland fire season. The Anchorage Fire Department lends support to communities threatened by wildland fires throughout South-central Alaska.
Service within the fire service district area offers a variety of challenges. Rescue and fire response to off-road terrain that requires 4-wheel drive and, occasionally, helicopters, occurs only short distances from major highways and the high-rise, downtown urban area. The Port of Anchorage, Ted Stevens International Airport, Merrill Field (the world's busiest small plane airport) and the hub of the Alaska Railroad pose potential industrial and transportation hazards. Suburban and rural areas add to the mix and a young populace spread over a wide socioeconomic range contributes to a full spectrum of emergency response activity. The Anchorage Fire Department serves a diverse need with a fully blended fire and rescue service.