Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Why are the firefighters turning on and off the fire hydrants in my neighborhood?

A. The firefighters are conducting hydrant testing. Each year, we are required to examine the flow rate of each hydrant in the city. The hydrants are maintained by the city's water department, but the Monroe Fire Department confirms through this process that all are in working order.

One peripheral benefit to conducting hydrant tests is that it helps familiarize the firefighters with your neighborhood, with respect to the locations of hydrants, street names, landmarks, and high-risk structures, such as schools, hospitals, and nursing homes.

Another advantage can be that defective or poor-flowing hydrants can be identified before they are needed at a nearby structure fire. The fire pumpers in use by Monroe Fire Department carry enough water to begin attacking a typical structure fire. We depend on hydrants to supply additional water to sustain the supply during the entire attack, salvage, and overhaul.

Usually hydrant inspections are conducted only on certain days of the week during specified time frames to minimize interruptions in service to nearby customers.

Q. Why are the firefighters walking around the outside of my office?

A. The firefighters are either creating or updating an existing pre-fire plan of your office building. This includes estimating the length and width of your building so the total area can be calculated so that we can insure we supply enough water in the event of fire.

The firefighters may come into your office and request some contact information for your business, as well as information on any hazardous materials you may store in your office or warehouse or other functional area. We'll also make note about the building construction and whether or not there are sprinklers and fire alarm systems. This information is kept in a secured location where only firefighting personnel have access in the event of a structure fire.

Q. What should I do if I'm driving and a fire truck or other emergency vehicle approaches me from behind?

A. Ideally, and according to state law, you should pull to the right if possible and safe at the time. Under ideal circumstances, when you see an emergency vehicle in your rear view mirror, don't panic. The emergency vehicle will attempt to pass you on your left. Therefore, if possible and if it can be done safely, activate your turn signal and move your vehicle to the right. If you are in the left lane of a four-lane highway, then turn on your turn signal and move over to the right lane just as you would any other lane change. If you are in the right lane, then signal and move over to the shoulder, if sufficient room and surface area is present. Do not make any lane change or move to the shoulder if you feel it is unsafe.

Remember, the emergency vehicle will wait for you to move out of the way. We know there are times and places when you cannot move to the right. Regardless, do not panic and do not make any sudden moves. The driver of the fire apparatus is a trained professional. Each driver at the Monroe Fire Department is required to complete a 40-hour formal class in emergency vehicle operation with yearly refresher classes. We will adjust our route if necessary, including moving into the oncoming traffic lane if safe. As a last resort, we may pass you on your right, if there are no other options.

When an emergency vehicle approaches an intersection against a red light, the driver of the emergency vehicle is still required to yield to drivers passing through the opposing green light. The warning lights and siren are a means of requesting the right-of-way through the intersection from the opposing vehicles that may have a green light. When all vehicles at the intersection have yielded to the emergency vehicle, then it may proceed.

If you yield right-of-way to an emergency vehicle, remember that it's not uncommon for more than one fire unit to respond to an emergency, even from the same station. So, before resuming travel through the intersection, carefully insure there are no other emergency vehicles following the first one.

Here are some tips to consider while driving to help firefighters respond more safely to emergencies:

  • Do not talk on the cell phone while driving.
  • Do not listen to the radio or music too loud to where you cannot detect the oncoming siren from the emergency vehicle.
  • If an emergency vehicle approaches you from the rear, do not panic. Do not make any sudden moves with your vehicle.
  • If possible, signal and safely move to the right to allow emergency vehicles to pass on your right.
  • Do not move your vehicle in any way that jeopardizes the safety of you or your passengers. Do not take any chances while you are driving in an effort to yield to an emergency vehicle.
  • If you yield right-of-way to a fire truck, remember that another fire truck, ambulance, or police car may also be responding to the same emergency and following behind the fire truck. Be careful when proceeding through intersection after yielding to a fire truck, ambulance, or police car.

Q. I just called 911 and requested a police officer, ambulance, and/or fire department. What are some things I can do to help them find my house?

A. At night, you can turn on porch and carport lights to distinguish your house from others. If possible, send a family member or neighbor to the front yard to flag down the first arriving unit. Some porch lights have features that, when the on/off switch is flipped several times, will flash the porch light on and off until turned off.

If safe, you can also move some cars from your driveway to allow firefighters and ambulance personnel room to carry in equipment and stretchers into your house.

Most importantly, you can insure your house has clear numbers on it that are reflective or illuminated at night and easily locatable and readable from the street.

Q. I called 911 and asked for an ambulance. Why did a fire truck show up at my house?

A. The City of Monroe has for many years benefitted from a dual-response EMS system. Almost all Monroe firefighters are cross-trained as Emergency Medical Technicians and many have gone on to the advanced level of Paramedic, able to start IVs and administer IV medications, defibrillate, use advanced airways and other advanced skills. We have the same training as the EMTs and Paramedics on the ambulance and much of the same equipment. Therefore, the Monroe Fire Department can dispatch your neighborhood fire truck and the EMTs on the fire truck can begin care of the patient before the ambulance arrives. When the ambulance arrives, care is transferred to the paramedic on the ambulance and the fire truck returns to the station.

For more information, see The Life Cycle of an EMS Call.

Q. What is the typical day like for a firefighter in Monroe?

A. The Monroe Fire Department is a Class 1 department, meaning it has attained high levels of success and recognition by scoring very high in a rating system that examines, among other things, training and maintenance records. Therefore, a typical weekday for a Monroe firefighter is filled with training and certification (or recertification) classes conducted by the Training Division. Other days we may be in the field conducting hydrant testing. Some days we conduct pre-fire planning, where we gather information about commercial or industrial structures in the event of a fire. Still other days we may be conducting supplemental training such as teaching a new firefighter or driver how to operate the fire apparatus, or checking off a new firefighter on his newly learned skills at the Monroe Fire Department Training Academy. There are many diverse tasks on which we may be working every day, and all of these duties are done while responding to structure fires, car fires, dumpster fires, EMS calls, car wrecks, and hazardous material incidents.

Weekends may be more relaxed, allowing firefighters more time for individual pursuits to occupy the time. However, if you see a firefighter outside washing his vehicle or a group of them engaged in a basketball game or other recreational activity, keep in mind that while you're sleeping or at home with your family, the firefighter may be fighting fire to save someone's home and possessions, or doing CPR on someone's loved one, or extricating a trapped patient from a badly damaged car.