Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do when I see or hear an emergency vehicle coming towards me when I'm driving?
When it is safe to do so, pull over to the right and stop until all emergency vehicles have safely passed. If you cannot safely maneuver to the right, simply stop and stay stopped so the emergency vehicles can go around you safely.
My smoke detector is chirping, what does that mean?
Most modern smoke detectors will chirp to alert you the batteries are low, you should replace the batteries and test your smoke detector. Smoke detectors can be purchased at any hardware or large commercial department store.
How often should I change the batteries in my smoke detectors?
We recommend you change the batteries in your smoke detectors every 6 months. An easy way to remember is to change batteries when you reset your clock to adjust for daylight savings time.
Does the Fire Department fill fire extinguishers?
Pullman Fire Department is not equipped to fill fire extinguishers at this time. However, you can find local fire extinguisher businesses in the yellow pages to refill or service them.
Can I use a burn barrel or burn leaves in my yard?
No, city ordinance prohibits outside burning within the Pullman city limits. The Whitman County Landfill takes leaves and yard waste free of charge.
Can I ride along with the Fire Department?
Yes, citizens can request to ride along on either an ambulance or a fire engine. For more information contact Operations at (509) 338-3273.
Does the Fire Department take used needles and medications for disposal?
The Pullman Fire Department does NOT take needles or used medications for disposal. 

Residents of Pullman can contact Pullman Disposal Services to set up an account for needle disposal and Pullman Police Department for medication disposal.
Why do you send a fire truck along with an ambulance to a medical emergency?
Most emergencies require more than the 2 people that respond with the ambulance to carry equipment and assist to safely transport the patient in awkward situations. A fire truck also has emergency medical personnel & essential equipment that can help reach your location quicker. The ambulance will provide transportation to an emergency room depending on the nature of the call. All members of the Pullman Fire Department are certified Emergency Medical Technician’s or Paramedics.
Why does the Fire Department bring the fire engine just for a simple inspection?
Two reasons:

First, these inspections are conducted by on-duty engine companies that must be ready to respond to an emergency call from the field.

Second, an important part of the value of the public safety inspection is to familiarize your local firefighters with the buildings and business in Pullman. While they check for hazards and consult with business owners on how best to eliminate or minimize the likelihood of a fire, they also familiarize themselves with access points and the layout of the facility.
Why do fire trucks go through town with lights & sirens sometimes and other times they seem to drive normally?
When a call from our dispatch center (Whitcom) comes out, the dispatchers classify the nature of the call as either an emergency or non-emergency response prior to alerting the Fire Department. This is done to minimize the safety hazards associated with emergency responses of apparatus while at the same time assuring a prompt response. We will also turn off the lights and sirens at times when we are cancelled, or someone deems it not necessary.
Why do firefighters break out windows and cut holes in roof during a fire?
Firefighters ventilate smoke, superheated poisonous, or explosive gases for safety and visibility. This allows firefighters to get inside the building to find and extinguish the fire, thereby reducing property damage. This also reduces the chance of a possible dangerous explosion.
Why do you block traffic lanes at auto accidents, sometimes more lanes than necessary?
Traffic lanes are blocked for the safety of our first responder personnel and our patients. Blocking extra lanes provides a clear and open work area so they may move freely between apparatus allowing quick access to essential lifesaving equipment for triaging and stabilizing patients.

Over 25 firefighters are killed or injured each year while working at incidents on streets and highways.
Why am I not supposed to drive over a firehose?
By driving over a fire hose, you can cause damage to the hose. If damage occurs, the hose must be taken out of service and tested before it can be used again. It can also cause an interruption in the water flow as well as injury or death to the firefighter operating the hose or a bystander.
Why do firefighters keep weeds and bushes away from fire hydrants?
Firefighters keep weeds and bushes three feet from fire hydrants for visibility and accessibility. If you have questions about a fire hydrant or need to report a problem with a hydrant in your neighborhood, please call us at (509) 338-3270.
Why does my water turn brown when firefighters turn fire hydrants on?
The fire department inspects fire hydrants on a yearly basis. Sometimes we turn the fire hydrants on to make sure they are operating properly. The hydrants are turned on slowly so the sediment is not stirred up in the pipes, but at times the sediment does get stirred up and the water coming out of your faucet can be brown in color. This happens more in the summertime when the reservoirs are lower due to increased water use.
Can we have birthday parties at the Fire Station?
Unfortunately, we do not have the proper facilities to have birthday parties at the fire stations. Pullman Fire Department does however offer citizens the option of scheduling a birthday tour at the local fire station of their choice. During birthday tours, children and guests who join the birthday child also receive Junior Fire Fighter hats, badges and coloring books.

To schedule a birthday tour, contact Pullman Fire department at (509) 338-3270. Similar to station tours, birthday tours last approximately 30 to 45 min. Times may vary depending on the number and ages of the children attending.
Can you get my cat out of a tree?
The Fire Department does not assist in rescuing animals. Citizens may contact Animal Control. The telephone number is (509) 334-0802
How do I schedule a Fire Drill?
Training is provided by Pullman Fire Department. We can assist you in organizing and conducting an orderly evacuation, and evaluating results with management of the facility. To schedule a Fire Drill contact our office at (509) 338-3270.
What if I smell Gas in my home?
You will need to get out of the house and then call 9-1-1 for the Fire Department from outside of the house or from a neighbor's house. The use of a phone could cause the gas to ignite if you call from inside the house.
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 Pullman work a 50 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.
What other responsibilities do firefighters have other than fighting fires?
Incidents involving fires represents approximately fifteen percent of the work of a typical fire department in Pullman. The number of residential and commercial fires has steadily decreased over the years due to a variety of factors including improvements in construction, a greater public awareness of the risk factors leading to fires and a significant reduction in smoking nationwide. Fires, however, are only some of the emergencies to which the Fire Department responds. Eighty percent of the fire department's emergency responses are, in fact, calls for medical aid, including illness/accidents at home and work, injuries resulting from vehicle accidents and inter-facility transfers. Other requests for emergency response involve hazardous materials releases, technical rescues, response to fire alarms and other calls for public assistance which make up the remaining five percent of the departments call volume. Firefighters also spend much of their time maintaining equipment, doing routine public safety inspections for businesses, training for all types of emergency responses and filling out the reports and paperwork associated with these activities.
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