Fire Deptartment FAQ's

Q: Why do you send a fire engine when I called for an ambulance?
A fire engine is dispatched with an ambulance on those emergency medical calls that are manpower intensive. Examples include a heart attack, stroke, diabetic emergency, childbirth, gunshot or stab wound, breathing difficulty and automobile accidents. The ambulance has two EMTs assigned to it. Often on the serious medical calls they need assistance getting the patient out of a bedroom, down from a second or third story building, or because of a patient's size. The fire engine typically responds with three Firefighters/EMTs to help with those tasks. In addition if the patient is in cardiac arrest one of those firefighter's assists with CPR and other advanced life support measures enroute to the hospital. The fire engine is almost always available to handle any additional calls as soon as they have helped the ambulance. In the case of an automobile accident often times engine and radiator fluids are spilled on the ground, at times vehicle fires occur, and most importantly the engine carries the "jaws of life" for use in extricating trapped patients.

Q: If someone is not sure there is a fire, why can't the Police Department check it out first then tell you if there is really a fire?
A fire doubles in size approximately every 30 seconds. In less than 10 minutes a fire can progress to the point of flashover. Flashover is a term used to describe the complete involvement of all contents in a room in fire. Two of the most important elements in limiting fire spread is the sufficient and quick arrival of fire personnel and equipment to attack and extinguish the fire as close to the point of origin as possible. Any time delayed in looking for a fire origins or confirming a fire can lead to catastrophic death or injury to civilians. The Police however do often assist us if they arrive first by giving a report of the conditions they are observing. If there is "nothing showing" than this allows responding fire apparatus to slow down.

Q: What does a Firefighter do when they are not on a call?
Firefighters have many duties when they are not responding to emergency calls. Some of the most important ones include checking out the fire apparatus and ambulances at the start of each duty tour, maintaining the cleanliness of the fire stations to which they are assigned, and the most important task is a continual ongoing proficiency training program that keeps their fire and EMS skills at the highest levels for service to the public. In addition in between all of these calls they are allowed to have meal breaks and exercise.

Q: Do Call Firefighters have the same qualifications as a full time Firefighter?
While most Call Firefighters to not have the same amount of certifications a fulltime Firefighter has, they are required to complete at least a minimum level of training known as Level I. This training allows them to successfully operate at the scene of fires alongside the fulltime Firefighters and to give them a level of proficiency to assist the department in meeting its mission. Most Call Firefighters go on to receive the same level of training as our fulltime Firefighters in the hope of being hired and making a career out of the fire service. Call Firefighters are also encouraged to obtain their Emergency Medical Technician Certification in order to work on the ambulance.

Q: How do I join the Hudson Fire Department?
The Hudson Fire Department periodically evaluates the number of Call Firefighters on the department and will conduct a hiring as needed. An individual interested in becoming a member of the Hudson Fire Department Call Force should contact the fire department at 886-6021 and ask to speak to the fire administration to obtain an application and information on becoming a Firefighter. The Hudson Fire Department most often looks to place Hudson Residents on the fire department due to their ability to respond to immediate requests for assistance. For those individuals that are under 18 years of age the Hudson Fire Department is a proud sponsor of the Boy Scouts of America Exploring Program. This dynamic active program allows those individuals who are between the ages of 14 to 21 to be a member of the Explorer Post. The Fire Administration can provide additional information on these programs or see the information provided on this web site.

Q: In light of the high fuel costs, why do I see fire engines running with no one in them outside of the station in the winter?
The Hudson Fire Department has a no idling policy which requires a fire engine or other emergency vehicle not operating at a scene of an emergency to turn the vehicle off if it will be run more than 10 minutes. The exception to this policy is for the fire engines which carry water and have a large pump to move water. In the winter months if a fire engine cannot be housed inside then the fire engine is left running and the pump is working to circulate water to prevent freezing. You can imagine what happens when the pump is not circulating in that the pump can freeze up and crack the pump housing resulting in major damage to the fire engine. The fire engines burn diesel fuel which consumes fuel at a slower rate than gasoline.

Q: Why can't the Fire Department come to my child's birthday party?
The Hudson Fire Department use to enjoy bringing the fire engine to children's birthday parties. Over the past few years the increase in emergency calls for service, cost of fuel, and logistics to enable the on duty crew to attend a birthday party has resulted in the fire department having to respectfully decline birthday invitations. We encourage parents to arrange a tour of the fire station either before the birthday party or take the time to come down during the party to see the fire apparatus. This provides the fire department an opportunity to promote fire safety and education to the children and parents. We often have educational materials and fire hats that would add to the excitement of a child's birthday.
As an additional note, you will see a fire engine and crew at community events such as Old Home Days, Fright Night, business openings, and other venues where a large number of the population may be expected to be in attendance. This allows us to reach as much of the Hudson population as possible to provide fire safety and prevention information.

Q: What is the meaning behind the Maltese Cross?
The Maltese cross or Amalfi cross is identified as the symbol of an order of Christian warriors known as the Knights Hospitaller or Knights of Malta. It was originally the symbol of Amalfi, a small Italian republic of the 11th century. The cross is eight-pointed and has the form of four "V"-shaped arms joined together at their tips, so that each arm has two points. Its design is based on crosses used since the First Crusade. The eight points are said to symbolize the eight points of courage.
Glory and honor
Contempt of death
Helpfulness towards the poor and the sick
Respect for the church

The Maltese cross remains the symbol of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and other Orders of St John, and St. John Ambulance. In recent centuries it has come to be adopted as the insignia of numerous orders of chivalry, and appears on the coat-of-arms of the Mecklenburg-Strelitz district. In Australia the Maltese Cross is part of the state emblem of Queensland.
The cross of Saint Florian, used by firefighters is often confused with the Maltese cross; although it may have eight or more points, it also has large curved arcs between.
The cross of St. Florian is widely used by fire services to form their emblem.

Q: How can I schedule a tour of the fire station?
Fire station tours can be scheduled through the Fire Administration office 886-6021. Some of the questions you will be asked are what kind of fire or emergency information are you looking to learn about? What is the nature of your group; civic organization, club or family group. How many people will be in your party and number of adults and children? What is the age group of the children that will be attending? These questions assist us in tailoring your visit to fit your expectations.
In addition, we will try to schedule your planed date and time. We will collect that information from you and then contact the duty office to be sure that your visit does not interfere with required training, mandatory activities or another scheduled tour or event. Once we have established a good time for everyone the Administration Office will confirm your visit and await your arrival.

Q: How can I schedule first aid, C.P.R., defibrillator, or fire extinguisher class for my civic group or business?
Any fire and/or EMS first aid safety education and training your group or business wishes to participate in can be scheduled through the Fire Administration office 886-6021. It is our goal to ensure that all Town of Hudson groups, agencies and businesses are empowered with the knowledge of personal safety in the event of an emergency. These opportunities could save valuable minutes in the event of an emergency, before help can arrive.
Some of the questions you will be asked are what kind of training are you looking for and the number of participants you expect to have in your group. Depending upon the nature of your request and the number of participants several appointment may necessary.
What is the nature of your group; civic organization, club or family group. How many people will be in training and number of adults and children? What is the age group of the children that will be attending? These questions assist us in tailoring your training to fit your expectations.
Please note: Depending upon what training is being provided and the number of hours necessary to have a comprehensive class there may be nominal fees associated with books and or instructors. Some classes or training offered are certification worthy and with that equated to added expenses endured by the Hudson Fire Department. The Town of Hudson recognizes the value in public education and does not provide these training opportunities for profit, but sometimes it may be necessary to share the expenses as to not over burden the department's budget to cover the cost of providing a class. More information and details can be obtained by contacting the Fire Administration office at 886-6021.

Q: Why don't the Firefighters shovel around the fire hydrants after a snow storm?
Pennichuck Water Co. is currently responsible for the maintenance of the Hudson water system. Due to limited manpower it would be inefficient and unpractical for firefighters to shovel out the hydrants. It could potentially take well over a week to shovel out the 400 plus hydrants in the Town. This would create a significant life safety concern as Hydrants may not be readily accessible in the event of a fire or other emergency. In addition often times the snow and slush that buries the fire hydrants freezes and requires snow plows to clear around the hydrants.

Q: Why do Firefighters sleep at night?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions. In the early days of fire history a Firefighter worked a 24 hour shift and you can imagine that in those times fires did not happen every day. The Firefighters at some point in the 24 hours need to rest. Today many Fire Departments are returning to the 24 hour shift, or in the case of Hudson Fire Department our Firefighters work 10 hr days and 14 hour nights. While most people assume they are sleeping soundly that is far from the case. Consider how well you sleep when you are not sleeping in your home. Often times being in a different sleep environment is enough to keep you tossing and turning all night. In the case of Firefighters their rest or sleep is interrupted by calls for fire and ems service, air compressors and other mechanical noises in the fire station that runs 24 hours a day. Even one emergency call during the night shift will interrupt their sleep pattern for the rest of their shift. There are also other reasons that Firefighters need to rest during the night shift. *Fire fighters have documented increases in their risks for cardiac disease, malignancies and other illnesses that may be promoted by the chronic sleep deprivation associated with long work hours. *Fire fighters and EMS responders are at risk for the decrements in mental and physical performance that have been well documented among others working long hours and during the night. Fatigue among fire fighters may relate to the disproportionately higher fire ground injury rates observed for the early morning hours. Fatigue when driving may increase the risk of crashes when driving following long work hours. Long commutes following work may be a particular hazard.

*Source; IAFC,USFA Firefighter Sleep Deprivation Report

Q: Why are widows broken or holes cut in the roof during a fire?
As a fire burns, it expands upward and outward. The fire creates superheated gasses and by products of combustion which need to be removed from the building to make the building more tenable for the occupants and firefighters. Breaking the windows and /or cutting holes in the roof (called ventilation) stops the damaging outward movement and enables firefighters to fight the fire more efficiently, resulting in less damage to the structure and its contents. When at all possible firefighters are instructed to open windows instead of breaking them, if they can. In situations where it is unknown if the occupants of the building are still inside or dangerous combustion levels have accumulated in the building then the firefighters will break windows. At times a ventilation hole cut in the roof of a building fire will also draw the fire away from unburned sections of the building, giving firefighters extra time to attack the fire and reduce the overall damage of the fire.

Q: Why do Firefighters cut holes in walls during a fire?
This is done so the Fire Department is absolutely sure the fire is completely out, and that there is no fire inside the walls or other hidden places. Wall insulation has been known to smolder for days.

Q: When Firefighters are not at an emergency what else do they do when they are on duty?
A typical day will begins with a morning (or evening) briefing between the two shifts passing on details of the previous shift. They start out completing truck checks which entails daily checks on every vehicle, weekly and monthly checks on specific vehicles. Equipment / supply inventories of the ambulances require a great deal of time and can take up to 2-3 hours with multiple people. While the team checks vehicles there are also house duties to perform. These duties include a complete cleaning of the administration areas, dormitories, day rooms, training rooms, washrooms and vehicle apparatus bays. They address / rectify problems as they are found. Lunch is from 12pm-1pm with many firefighters preparing meals for the rest of the group. After lunch it's shift training. A set schedule from the training division lets each shift know that they must complete a training module. Some other duties the firefighters are responsible to perform include fire inspections, fire prevention activities, public education tours and pre-plans. Firefighters are also allowed one hour of fitness time to stay in shape and healthy.

Q: What are the types of emergencies Firefighters trained to do? Is there an emergency that the Firefighter can not help me with?
Firefighters are trained to handle many different emergencies. They receive specialized training in hazardous materials, technical rescue such as rescue from heights, below grade rescue, and confined space rescue. Firefighters are also trained in water rescue and ice rescue. There are also different levels of emergency medical training they specialize in. If they respond to an emergency which requires emergency services which they do not have the technical skills or equipment to mitigate we will isolate the area and call in specialists who are trained to mitigate the emergency.