you will find some common terminology heard over the scanner.
Switching to Tac – Fire crews stay on the dispatch channel until
the first unit arrives on scene, then they switch to a tactical
channel so that the dispatch channel can be used to dispatch other
units/stations as needed. (Ex. “Waterloo Pump 3 on scene, nothing
visible, switching to Tac.”)
E1, E2, E3,
E4 When referring to an area of a building/property
each side is given an number. E1 is always the side that faces
the street, and E2-E4 are clockwise from E1
Working Fire A structure fire that is big enough to
require multiple units/stations to be called and for the incident
command system to be used.
Fully involved A working fire that has spread to more then half
Motor Vehicle Collision.
Signs Absent (not breathing and have no pulse)
When more then one agency responds to an incident. Usually
referred to in medical calls where Fire, EMS and Police are
Medical Service (Paramedics)
Intervention Team. This is a team of firefighters whose sole
specialty is to enter a structure and rescue any firefighters who
become injured or trapped and have called for assistance.
Hazmat unit is specially trained to handle hazardous materials.
Hot Zone The
hot zone is the area where the incident is happening. (Ex. At
a working fire the hot zone is inside the building. At a
hazmat call, the hot zone is the area containing the hazardous
Cutting and spreading tools that are powered by high pressure
hydraulic fluid. These tools are most often used to free
people who are trapped in vehicles after a motor vehicle acident.
The “Jaws of life” is a brand name of a heavy hydraulic tool.
Mayday When a
firefighter becomes trapped, injured, or in need of assistance at a
scene they will call a mayday to request assistance and the RIT team
will be sent to rescue them. (Ex. Over the radio you will hear
“Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!”)
Rehab Fighting a
fire is very physically demanding work so to make sure firefighters
don’t over exhausted or dehydrated they are sent to rehab after
being in the hot zone so they can rest, cool down, and re-hydrate.