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September 20, 2018
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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions City Council meetings, station visits, on the streets, etc…

1.       How big is the Dearborn Fire Department?

2.       Why is the City Charter minimum firefighter staffing language so critical?

3.       Why is Dearborn Fire Departments 4 minute response time so critical?

4.       What types of shifts do the Dearborn firefighters work?

5.       Why not (3) 8 hour shifts instead of one 24 hour shift? Wouldn't that be more cost efficient?

6.       Why do firefighters sleep at the fire station?

7.       How many stations and apparatus does the Dearborn Fire Department have?

8.       Are there always firefighters staffed at all of the fire stations?

9.       What services does the Dearborn Fire Department provide?

10.   How many calls does the Dearborn Fire Department run every year?

11.   Is it true that over the last thirty years the Fire Departments responsibilities have swayed from 70% fire and 30% medical calls to just the opposite today (70% medical and 30% fire calls)?

12.   Who determines what apparatuses are needed for a determined call? 

13.   Why do fire trucks with full lights and sirens go through red lights at intersections and then, after they go through, they turn off their lights and slow down?

14.   Why do so many fire apparatuses respond to a simple incident?

15.   Why do fire engines respond on medical runs with an ambulance/rescue?

16.   Why doesn’t the City hire separate EMS workers or privatize EMS?  They could work for less than firefighters and work 8 hour shifts?  Shouldn’t firefighters only put out fires?  

17.   Why do firefighters break windows and cut holes in roofs when the fire is inside a building? It seems that they are causing more damage than the fire?

18.   Why do firefighters retire a little younger than other professions?

19.   Why not have a hybrid department comprised of fulltime and volunteer firefighters in Dearborn?  Wouldn’t that be more efficient?

20. Is it true that some Dearborn Firefighters do not live in the City?


(Please scroll down to read the answers to the above FAQ’s)

1.      How big is the Dearborn Fire Department?

We currently staff with 128 professional firefighters (126 are paramedics).
·         1 Fire Chief
·         1 Deputy Fire Chief
•     2 Assistant Fire Chiefs
·         1 EMS Coordinator
·         1 Apparatus Supervisor
·         1 Training Officer
·         3 in the Fire Marshall’s Division
·         1 Emergency Management Coordinator
·         117 firefighters in Fire Suppression/EMS

2.      Why is the City Charter minimum firefighter staffing language so critical?

The Charter language “1.24 firefighters per thousand residents” assures there is always adequate staffing to provide the current high level of services for the residents.  For many years, Dearborn Firefighters have drastically increased their capabilities while their run volume has nearly doubled.  Dearborn Firefighters have provided this increased service with nearly the same staffing numbers for over 30 years (see FAQ #10).  The Fire Department is operated very efficiently with its current staffing.  Any reduction in staffing would result in the loss of a staffed apparatus that may be stationed near you.  Any cuts in staffing would negatively affect the services the Dearborn Fire Department could provide.
In late 2000, the Dearborn Firefighters began gathering signatures to put the staffing language on the ballot.  The residents overwhelmingly supported the initiative.  Mayor Guido and the entire City Council (including current Mayor O’Reilly) endorsed the initiative.   In addition, the City Charter was re-opened in 2007.  A board of officials was elected by the residents.  They were tasked with reviewing and revising the City Charter. They recognized the importance of the staffing language and chose to leave the police and fire staffing levels as originally stated in the charter.

3.      Why is Dearborn Fire Departments 4 minute response time so critical?


Our current staffing and apparatus placement allow us to maintain an average response time of four minutes.   This is critical for many reasons.  The following are examples where studies have shown:

Infant/pediatrics who experience oxygen deprivation begin to suffer permanent brain damage at 4 minutes (choking, drowning, sudden cardiac arrest, etc.).
Adult Oxygen Deprivation begins to cause brain death at 4-6 minutes.  Brain death is assured at 10 minutes.
CPR, if began within 4 minutes of cardiac arrest and followed by electric defibrillation within 10 minutes can increase chances of survivability by 40%.
In cardiac arrest, with every passing minute, the chances for the victim's survival decrease by 10%.  Defibrillation is more successful when performed within 8 minutes of the cardiac arrest, and most successfully if performed within 5 minutes. In just two minutes, a structure fire can become life-threatening.  In five minutes, a residence can become engulfed in flames.  Time is critical in search and rescue.
With Trauma patients, the "Golden Hour" is the time from the point of traumatic injury to the time they receive definitive medical care. Studies have proven that getting a patient to a trauma center’s operating room within the first 60 minutes of injury drastically increases chance of survival. Every minute matters for survivability, especially within the first "Golden Hour." 
For trauma patients who are trapped in a vehicle from a motor vehicle accident or an industrial machinery accident, their extrication time is also included in the “Golden Hour.”  All Dearborn Fire Engines carry professionally trained rescue firefighters and extrication equipment (Jaws of Life).

4.      What types of shifts do the Dearborn Firefighters work?

24 hour shifts (16 hours the first day and 8 hours into the following day), 50.4 hours per week, ten 24 hour shifts per month. 

These shifts/hours help reduce costs for the City by not having overtime costs associated with 8 hour shifts and 40 hour work weeks.


There are some obvious advantages to the 24 hour schedule. There are some not-so-obvious disadvantages also. With the firefighter schedule, their work days rotate throughout the week.  They are not home at times when the typical family person is… including weekends, kids sporting events, birthdays, holidays, and at night when it is time to tuck kids in to bed.  Every holiday, the Fire Department is fully staffed.  These are not complaints, just some easily overlooked information.  This is a 24-7, 365 days a year business.

5.      Why not (3) 8 hour shifts instead of one 24 hour shift? Wouldn't that be more cost efficient?

Actually, it is most economical for the City to have their firefighters work 24 hour shifts. Dearborn firefighters work an average of 50.4 hours a week.  If staffed with 8 hour shift employees, it would require overtime (FLSA) for anything above 40 hours.  There would need to be 20% more firefighters, or significant overtime, to provide the same daily staffing levels as is currently maintained.


In addition, this does not take into consideration the added overtime costs when firefighters respond to a run near the end of their shift.  They are duty-bound to stay late and complete the emergency run, on overtime, while their relief is waiting for them at the station to return. With 8 hour shifts, there would be three times the opportunity for this to occur which would drastically affect overtime costs as well.

6.      Why do firefighters sleep at the fire station?

Dearborn firefighters along with virtually every full time firefighter in North America work 24-hour shifts.  Unlike 8-hour employees, the 24 hour employee’s shift is dictated by run volume and calls.  Regardless of what time of the day a call for help comes in, firefighters will respond 24/7 and 365 days a year.  All of the station duties and training is completed throughout the day.  The firefighters in Dearborn respond to over 10,000 calls for help every year.  During those 24 hours if they are able to get rest to maintain energy and a sharp mind, it is permitted.

7.      How many stations and apparatus does the Dearborn Fire Department have?


Station 1

·         F2 (Shift/Incident Commander)

·         Engine 1

·         Rescue 1

Station 2

·         Engine 2

·         Engine 12

·         Rescue 2

·         Ladder 2

Station 3

·         Quint 3

·         Rescue 3

Station 4

·         Engine 4

·         Rescue 4

·         Ladder 4

Station 5 (Melvindale Station)

  • Engine 5
  • Rescue 5

All Rescues are Advanced Life Support, transporting ambulances.   All Engines are Advanced Life Support equipped.  All Ladders are Basic Life Support equipped.

All rescues (ambulances) and fire engines are staffed with dual trained firefighters and paramedics.  Rescues and fire engines respond to both fires and medicals.

8.      Are there always Firefighters staffed at all of the fire stations?

Yes.  Dearborn Firefighters are always ready to respond at a moment’s notice from all stations. 

9.      What services does the Dearborn Fire Department provide?

Fire Suppression
Rescue and Extrication
Advanced Life Support Medical Transporting Services
Emergency mitigation

Jan 31, 2012
9.How many calls do the Dearborn Fire Department Run every year? Dearborn Fire runs more than 10,000 calls per year.

Page Last Updated: Aug 07, 2012 (07:20:00)
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