I often hear on the news that a fire was a 3rd or 4th alarm blaze. What does that mean?
The use of "Alarms" is a Fire Departments way of telling the Dispatch Center to send a standardized amount of help to a scene. Each alarm represents a specific amount of people and trucks. Below you will find a guide to the Quincy Fire Department's alarm system.
Still Alarm: One Engine Company.
General Alarm: One Incident Commander and three engine companies.
Second Alarm: One additional engine company dispatched to the fire scene. Call in one off-duty Captain, one Lieutenant and four firefighters to be assigned to
Central Station. Both Deputy Chiefs are also called to the fire scene.
Third Alarm: One additional engine company dispatched to the fire scene. Call in an additional two Lieutenants and four firefighters. One Lieutenant and two firefighters will be sent to man Central Station and one Lieutenant and two firefighters will be sent to man Station #3.
Fourth Alarm: Call in one off-duty Assistant Chief and eight fire personnel (officers and/or firefighters) to be assigned to the fire scene. The Fire Chief is also called to the fire scene.
Fifth Alarm: Call in remaining personnel from both off-duty shifts to be assigned to the fire scene.