Fire & EMS Operations
The Anchorage fire service area covers the immediate 166 square miles of the Anchorage bowl out to Eagle River; EMS coverage extends throughout the 1,961 square miles of the entire Municipality. Mutual Aid agreements exist between the Anchorage Fire Department, Ted Stevens International Airport Police and Fire Department, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Girdwood Fire Department and Chugiak Volunteer Fire and Rescue 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 1961 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 response 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 Alaska, Ted Stevens Anchorage 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.
The Operations Division is responsible for community safety and emergency response. The Operations Division is the largest division of the department and is under command of the Operations Chief. This division consists of the Health and Safety Office, Communications Center and Line Operations sections of the department.
The Health and Safety Office is responsible for the community risk reduction program and the Community Outreach, Referral and Education (CORE) Team as well as the health, wellness, and safety of all department employees. The Health and Safety Officer leads a group of three Safety Officers, one Community Risk Reduction Coordinator and one firefighter/paramedic assigned to the CORE Team.
The Communications Center is the central point of contact for EMS and Fire activity in the Municipality of Anchorage. The center is led by a battalion chief and is staffed with 20 highly trained professional public safety communicators who are certified as Emergency Medical Dispatchers and Emergency Fire Dispatchers, as well as being CPR certified. They assist citizens calling 911 or the non-emergency number by gathering information, providing pre-arrival instructions and basic life-saving assistance as necessary. A computer-aided dispatch system and telephone system combine to allow communicators to gather and then disseminate information quickly when handling emergency calls.
The communications center dispatches for the Anchorage Fire Department, Chugiak Volunteer Fire Rescue Department, Girdwood Fire Department, Anchorage Safety Patrol, and all private ambulances services licensed to operate in the Municipality.
Line Operations – To serve the needs of the community every day there are fourteen engine companies, thirteen Mobile Intensive Care Units / ambulances, five ladder companies, five water tenders, one heavy rescue, two EMS Advanced Life Support vehicles, one safety officer, and three battalion chiefs. A total of 326 firefighters covering three 24-hour shifts out of thirteen fire stations serve in the Line Operations section. All line operations personnel are certified emergency medical technicians, more than 90 of whom are paramedics.
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 three Battalion Chiefs. Also available through cross-staffing are a variety of well-equipped specialized units, including dive, hazmat, front-country rescue, urban search & rescue and swift-water rescue. A central 911 dispatch system serves the entire Municipality and coordinates, fire and EMS response to all areas of the Municipality.