Anatomy of your Anchorage Fire Department…

Fire Engines carry small hose used to attack fires, large hose used to pump water from a hydrant to another engine, and ground ladders. Typically engines will carry 3-4 personnel. Engines also respond to medical calls, so they carry Advanced Life Support equipment such as cardiac monitors. In an Emergency Medical System like we have here in Anchorage, engines respond with Mobile Intensive Care Units (ambulances) to assist with patient care, or in the event that an ambulance is unable to respond right away, to initiate patient interventions and stabilize the situation until an ambulance can get to the scene. There are 14 fire engines in the Anchorage Fire Service Area,  covering just under 1700 square miles.


Mobile Intensive Care Units are more commonly known as ambulances, and are primarily used to provide emergency medical treatment and patient transports to area hospitals.  Ambulances typically carry a crew of two firefighters, one of which is a Paramedic, and the other usually an Emergency Medical Technician. There are 8 ambulances spread throughout the Anchorage bowl and Eagle River.  Downtown, Airport Heights, Tudor, Spenard, Muldoon, Huffman, Eagle River, and Dimond.  These ambulances transported 13,475 patients in 2008 with one ambulance transporting almost 3000 alone.


Ladder trucks are easily recognizable due to the large aerial ladder attached to the top of the truck. Truck companies usually carry 3 personnel and are primarily used on fires to search for and rescue victims, ventilate structures using large fans and saws, and shutting off utilities.  Aerial ladders can be used to rescue victims in upper floors of high rise buildings, and nozzles at the end of the ladder can be used to fight fire where hand held nozzles are ineffective.  Trucks also respond to vehicle accidents where extrication tools (jaws-of-life) are necessary, industrial accidents, and water problems, and in the event that no fire engines or ambulances are near, will go to medical calls.  Presently there are 5 truck companies operating in the Anchorage Fire Department.  They’re located in Eagle River, Downtown, Airport Heights, Spenard, and Dimond.


Water tenders are staffed with a single operator, and carry 2,500 gallons of water to support fire attacks in un-hydranted areas such as Stuckagain Heights, Eagle River, or the Hillside. During extended fire operations in un-hydranted areas, all 5 AFD tenders may be used, as several may be coming back and forth from the incident scene to a water source, while the remainder of the AFD’s water tenders will be actually supplying water to engines and trucks actively fighting the fire.


Battalion Chiefs respond to incidents in suburbans. There are two types of Battalion Chiefs on the Anchorage Fire Department; Fire Battalion Chiefs, and Chief Medical Officers (CMO). These individuals are typically the most senior ranking officials on calls, and will often be in command of major incidents such as structure fires and cardiac arrests. On most days, there are three Fire BC’s and one CMO on duty at a time.


All Line Operations employees of the Anchorage Fire Department are cross-trained in fire suppression and emergency medical response, so medical incidents require the dispatch of one fire engine and one ambulance.  Fore more serious calls such as cardiac arrest, the CMO will accompany the initial units to facilitate any needs and notifiy the recieving hospital of the situation.  The majority of structure fires require three fire engines, one truck company, one ambulance, two Fire BCs, and the CMO.  Of course, every call is dynamic in nature, and may require more or less resources.


6 Responses to “Anatomy of your Anchorage Fire Department…”

  1. Life long resident Says:

    Interesting fact…
    I recieved a pamphlet with the Mayors phone number on it. When i called to express my concern about AFD closures, the number had been disconnected. Because I was so concerned with these closures, i looked up the mayors number on the municipality web site. The number listed was very close to the number on the pamphlet, i assumed it was a mistake by whoever created the pamphlet. Upon contacting the mayor’s office with the new correct number, I was told that the previous number had been recently disconnected. Is this another indication that this administration is not concerned nor listening to the community’s concerns about public safety? I hope this dissemination of information and pressure continues to grow.

  2. Thank you for the valuable information in this article. My question is: what happened to the Hummers? Who is driving them? Where are they stationed? You will remember that federal grants for Firewise projects funded the purchase of two of these $100K vehicles, both which were to be used on Hillside. No one has seen them in ages. Where did they go?

  3. Hillsider –
    To clarify; to my knowledge the Anchorage Fire Department only recieved one Hummer through a federal grant. Believe it or not the maintenance costs were higher than most of our apparatus. One major issue was that these particular models had only 2 disc brakes, one on each axle. A very familiar drive for the Hummer was coming down from the Flattop area or Highland road. The wear and heat applied to these two disc brakes on this common run would devistate the longevity of the pads, so the department decided to retain it as a reserve brush rig in the event that one of our front line rigs were not available due to a mechanical issue. They were great rigs, just not very pratical for the application we used them in with the Firewise program. I can elaborate further if you would like. I can be reached at
    Thanks for the question,
    AFD Status

    • Hummm. So they weren’t very… practical? Gee, what a surprise. And one of them is now missing, the other is stored somewhere? What an incredibly… interesting… use of our taxes.

      On a side note, do you ever wonder why people get so upset at the way our Government spends our money?

  4. Bobbi Wells Says:

    Wow, I loved your anatomy missive but I hope you can help the public further by illustrating on a map where all the fire stations are located, state which number that location is known as and maybe listing on the side which pieces of equipment can be found at each site. I’m amazed that there isn’t a webpage devoted to that information. We have all driven past our fire stations but we don’t know which one it is or what it contains.
    Again thanks for your efforts to educate and inform the public.

    • Ms. Wells –
      I couldn’t agree more. Believe it or not we’re are currently working on a page that will provide you with everything you have asked for above. Unfortunately we’re firefighters first and web hosts second. Our learning curve is getting the best of us, but we’re getting there. My estimate is that you could see something by the first of October. We’re close!
      Thanks for your ideas,
      AFD Status

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