Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

How many fire stations are there in the City of Piedmont?
The Piedmont Fire Department operates out of 1 station with a minimum staffing of 8 personnel on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks per year, 365 days per year, since 1907.

What is the Piedmont Fire Departments response area?
We serve the City of Piedmont for all calls for service within the city limits, including ambulance transport. We also work closely with our neighboring departments and jurisdictions in Alameda County when county wide resources are needed. The Piedmont Fire department is also a participant in the State Master Mutual Aid system which mobilizes resources for state wide incidents as seen commonly during fire season.

Why is my carbon monoxide / smoke detector chirping?
If it is sounding continuously, exit immediately and call 911. If it is chirping once every 30 seconds or so, it probably has a bad battery. We recommend replacing batteries twice a year. We recommend changing your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector batteries twice a year, when you change your clock in the spring and fall.

Why do firefighters go to the grocery store together on a fire truck while on duty?
We are ready to respond 24/7, regardless of location. Our fire engine is both our office and our tool shop. We do not have formal breaks or times that we are unable to respond to 911 calls. The fire engines are multi-purpose and carry a wide variety of equipment needed to respond to a wide variety of emergencies.

We are never far away from our engine or from each other. We are always ready to respond! We spend 48 hours together per shift. We do eat breakfast, lunch and dinner together, and we are responsible for buying our own food. When picking up groceries, or running department errands we are still available for emergency calls.

I had a small fire in the house and I think I put it out; should I still call the Fire Department?
Yes, call 911. Even if you think you put a fire out, it can still be dangerous. We can also help with getting the smoke out of your house after you had a small fire. We have thermal imaging devices (to check for hidden fires or smoldering materials) and several large volume fans. Go ahead and call 911.

I have several old containers of unknown or hazardous household waste such as paint thinners, old gasoline, etc. Where can I get rid of these?
Household hazardous waste items (such as listed) should be disposed of at a proper facility. They should never be dumped down the drain, in a gutter or storm drain. For proper disposal contact Alameda County Household Hazardous Waste at (510) 891-6550.

Do you refill or recharge fire extinguishers?
The Fire Department does not provide this service. Fire extinguishers must be recharged and serviced by a licensed professional. A google search for Fire Extinguisher Service in the East Bay will give you some good recommendations.

How come I see fire trucks with full lights and sirens go through a red light at intersections and then suddenly turn off their lights and slow down?
Several units are dispatched to the same incident. The first unit may have arrived on the scene, survey the situation and informed the dispatcher that the situation is under control. All other responding units may be cancelled and put back into service, ready to take another call. Most likely, when you see an emergency vehicle go Code 3 (lights and siren) through an intersection and then slow down and turn the emergency lights off, they have been cancelled from the call they were assigned.

Why are the fire engines left running on calls?
Today's fire apparatus are high tech pieces of equipment. If the engine is being used for firefighting operations, power from the motor is needed to run the pump to distribute water. During emergencies, lighting plays a key role. The power needed to run lights and emergency flashers is significant. Additionally there are a host of radios, computers and devices powered and charged by the fire engine on an ongoing basis. When the apparatus are in the fire station, they are always plugged in to a shore line that keeps batteries charged, so that equipment is ready to go at any time.

Why do fire engines respond to car accidents, even when they didn't look serious?
An accident does not have to look bad to cause injuries needing an emergency response. Firefighters check for fire and environmental hazards like gas, motor oil, or transmission fluid leaks. They also block the scene to protect other emergency responders from being hit by passing cars.

Why does the fire engines respond with ambulance to medical calls?
The fire engine responds with 3 personnel and the ambulance responds with 2 personnel. 5 is the minimum number of personnel needed to adequately treat a critically injured or ill patient. Not only must firefighters provide medical care, but a significant amount of gear must be transported to and from the apparatus, multiple medical procedures might need to be performed simultaneously and often patients need to be carried from their homes.

Why do so many vehicles respond to simple incidents?
Fire Department units are dispatched according to information received by the 911 operator. The Piedmont Fire Department initially assumes worst case scenario when they respond to citizens in need of help. There may be several fire department vehicles on the scene for what appears to be a "simple" incident. However, in emergency services history has taught us that if we assume something is "simple," we can be terribly mistaken. We respond rapidly and are prepared to encounter the worst. 

Where can I direct comments about the service provided by the Piedmont Fire Department personnel?
Questions, concerns or comments pertaining to the personnel may be made by contacting Chief Brannigan at (510) 420-3038 and [email protected], or visit the fire station and ask for the on-duty Captain.