Courage ~ Ability ~ Service

Frequently Asked Question

~ When do I change the batteries in my smoke detectors?
Batteries should be changed at least twice a year.  We suggest changing your batteries when you change your clocks in the spring and fall.

~ When and how often should a smoke detector be tested?
Smoke detectors should be tested monthly. 

~ Can I have a recreational fire pit and what can I burn when? 
Please consult the current ordinance ( Click Here) for guidance on fire pits and what are acceptable materials to be burned at one's home. 

~ Why do your fire trucks use lights and sirens, even in the middle of the night when there is no traffic?
The purpose of emergency warning equipment is to let drivers and pedestrians know that an emergency vehicle is on the way to an emergency. By Indiana State law, we do have certain privileges extended to us. Those being, to carefully proceed through controlled intersections and travel against the designated flow of traffic. These privileges have rules that the legislation and department policy put on the drivers of these emergency vehicles. The main rule is that we cannot do these things unless there are lights flashing and sirens going, even in the middle of the night.

~ I saw a City of Decatur fire truck at a local grocery store and some of the firefighters were inside shopping for food. Why do firefighters use fire trucks for non-emergency purposes while they are on duty?
To ensure the most effective service at the time of an emergency, our crews must remain in their designated response territory with their fire trucks during their entire shift. Our crews work 24 hour shifts with no scheduled breaks, and meals are not provided by the City. Crews on each shift must purchase their own food and prepare their own meals, so they may make a daily trip to the grocery store within their territory to buy whatever they need to prepare their meals for the entire shift.
Firefighters crews do not have to be sitting in the fire station to be dispatched to a call. Since all City units maintain constant radio contact with Sheriff's Department Communications and the entire crew must always be together with their truck, they are always ready to respond to any emergency, regardless of their current location or non-emergency assignment. Very often, our firefighters spend long periods of their day running calls, without returning to the station or stopping to eat, and they frequently have to return to the grocery store several times to finish purchasing food that they might not get a chance to cook during the shift.

~ Why does a fire engine come when I only requested an ambulance?
A fire truck will sometimes arrive at an incident first because it is the closest emergency unit to the scene and we are committed to getting help to your location as fast as possible. All firefighters are trained to provide basic emergency medical treatment. Since there are only three paramedic units in the County, firefighters respond to all calls involving life-threatening symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, chest pains, and severe bleeding. They initiate treatment to stabilize patients and provide information to the paramedics en route to the call so they will be aware of any additional advanced life support equipment that will be needed on the scene.

~ How do I arrange to tour a fire station?
Call the Fire Station between 8 AM - 4 PM Monday through Friday to schedule a tour.

~ How can I get a copy of a fire incident or medical incident report?
You can arrange to receive an incident report by calling the Fire Station. There is a fee of $10.00 for each report.

~Why do you block traffic lanes at auto accidents, sometimes more lanes than necessary?

We block traffic lanes for the safety of our personnel and our patients. Blocking extra lanes keep our personnel safe when they go back to our apparatus to get more equipment and help protect the victim we are trying to stabilize. Over 25 firefighters are killed or injured each year while working at incidents on streets and highways.

~ Why do firefighters work 24-hour shifts?

Firefighters work 24-hour shifts, because unlike police, firefighters cannot go out and perform training, inspections , etc., during the nighttime. It would take more firefighters to cover 8 hour shifts. Firefighters at Decatur Fire work a 72 hour work week and the 24 hour shift allows this. This type of schedule is the most cost-effective work schedule to provide fire protection and is the most common.

~ Does the Fire Department fill swimming pools?

Decatur Fire Department does not fill swimming pools for any city or county resident. For more information please call the City of Decatur Utility Office at 260-724-7171.

~Where can I buy a Decatur Fire Department t-shirt or patch?

At this time, the Decatur Department does not sell or trade for official clothing items or other products, such as patches. This decision is based on security concerns.

~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?

Emergency lights and siren are used only when responding to a call. Sometimes several units are dispatched to the same incident. When the first unit arrives on scene, they may assess the situation and inform the dispatcher they can handle the emergency. All other responding units are then cancelled and put back into service, ready to take another call.

~When I see an emergency vehicle approaching with lights and sirens while I am driving, what should I do?

State law, and common sense, dictates that vehicles yield to emergency vehicles that are operating their emergency lights and siren. Emergency vehicle drivers are taught to pass on the left whenever possible when responding in an emergency mode. When safe, slow down, pull over to the right, and stop. However, there are circumstances where that may not be possible (if you car is already stopped, and you don't have anywhere to pull over). Simply stay put until the emergency vehicle goes around you. If you are blocking the route of the emergency vehicle, and you are able to pull ahead and over into a clear area, use your turn signal to indicate your intentions, and proceed at a safe speed. Never slam on the brakes and stop in the middle of the road when you see apparatus approaching. Make no sudden moves. If an emergency vehicle is approaching from the opposite direction, you should pull over and stop. You have no idea if they are proceeding down the road, or are planning on turning into a driveway or intersection right in front of you. You are not required to slow down or pull over for emergency vehicles that are responding in the opposite direction on a divided highway. Do not tailgate, "draft", or follow a responding apparatus closely. Not only is this illegal, you run the risk of collision as vehicles pull back out into traffic after the emergency vehicle goes by. 

~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?

Fire in a building creates a tremendous amount of heat and smoke. In many instances, firefighters must remove this heat and smoke before they can get close enough to extinguish the fire. The reduced heat and improved visibility allow firefighters to safely and quickly rescue trapped occupants and extinguish the fire. Heat and smoke rise, so cutting a hole in the roof and breaking out windows in strategic locations allows the smoke to vent upwards, allowing cool air to enter the structure from below. We call this "ventilation". When a hole is made in the roof, dark smoke and dangerous superheated gases escape because heat and smoke rise. This makes it much easier for the firefighters in the building to see. It also reduces the possibilities of backdraft (an explosion of heated gases) and flashover. Another reason is to see how far the fire has progressed. One of the fastest avenues through which fires spread is the attic. Heat and smoke rise into the attic where fire can move quickly. Firefighters may go ahead of the fire on a roof, cut holes to access the attic and stop the fire from spreading. By venting the window of a room that’s on fire, it actually helps to contain the fire to the room of origin. Otherwise heated gases spread throughout the inside of a structure. Breaking a window really prevents more damage than it appears to cause.