Fire Department Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why does a fire truck come when you call for an ambulance?
    Why does a fire truck respond when I wanted an ambulance? Because firefighters can and do get there first, and time is critical in a medical emergency. Every Albany Fire fighter is cross-trained in Emergency Medical Services. What does that mean to you, a citizen phoning 911? Simply read on...
    In the early days, fire stations were strategically located so the crews could quickly get to burning buildings. Obviously, time is an important aspect of firefighting, because flames can rapidly spread through a building. The ability to quickly respond to a fire provides more time to rescue people inside, and save property by suppressing the blaze in the early stages. It soon became apparent that the firefighter's ability to "get there fast" could be used for other types of emergency response, such as heart attacks, strokes and trauma.
    Every minute counts for someone who has experienced a heart attack, injury, or other life threatening illness. The heart and brain have a better chance of full recovery they receive oxygen and/or medications in a timely manner. After that, a person can suffer brain damage or worse. Our firefighters, many of them educated to the level of paramedic, can use life saving techniques including defibrillation and medications to help prevent death or permanent injury. These life saving techniques are much more effective if they can get to a patient within the first four minutes.
    Each Albany Fire Station is part of a much larger, intricate dispatch system. The system is designed to provide adequate emergency coverage for the citizens who live and visit here, by carefully managing response resources. Fire stations are not isolated or randomly located. They are strategically positioned to provide the best coverage with the least expenditure of resources.
    When you dial 911 for a medical emergency, expect an Albany fire truck. The expertise that they bring is truly lifesaving.
  • 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 Albany. While they check for hazards and consult with property 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 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. The environment inside a burning building is not like the movies portray it. Often firefighters cannot see their hands in front of their faces. They crawl to try and remain below smoke and heat and feel their way through the hostile environment. Reducing the smoke in the building allows more efficient rescue and extinguishment of the fire.
  • 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 Albany work a 48 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.
  • Why do we see fire department crews at the store?
    Because the crews work a 24-hour shift, they must eat their lunch and dinner at the station. At times firefighters all eat the same meal, as a group. The crews pay for their food out of their own pockets. So, after the equipment is checked and the housework completed, one of the fire trucks may make a quick trip to the grocery store to purchase the food for the shift if necessary. All crews remain in service to respond to calls during this time and only crews with a store in their “first response territory” will be at the store. This ensures there is no delay in responding to calls.
  • What responsibilities do firefighters have other than fighting fires?
    Your Albany Fire Department is an “All hazard department”. We do much more than fight fires. We respond to calls for medical aid, including illness/accidents at home and work, and injuries resulting from vehicle crashes. Other calls for emergency response involve hazardous materials releases, technical rescues, response to fire alarms and other calls for public assistance as well as maritime emergencies. We also work to educate the general public about fire safety. Firefighters also spend much of their time maintaining equipment, doing routine public safety inspections for businesses and rental housing, training for all types of emergency responses and filling out the reports and paperwork associated with these activities.
  • 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, you should 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 vehicles can go around you safely. Depending on the emergency, multiple apparatus may be responding. Be sure to check for additional emergency vehicles prior to pulling back out into traffic.
  • My smoke detector or Carbon Monoxide 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 detector. Detectors can be purchased at any hardware or large commercial department store. Did you know your detector has a life span? Check it for an expiration date to ensure your safety.
  • 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 fire trucks stay at a medical emergency after the ambulance has arrived?
    Albany Firefighters basically bring an emergency room to your house. Our crews have the ability to perform EKGs, start IVs, administer various medications, intubate patients and much more. Aside from trauma or stroke calls, it is better for us to treat and improve the patient’s condition prior to transporting to the emergency room.
  • Why am I not supposed to drive over a fire hose?
    Firefighters are very concerned about running over fire hoses because the hose can be damaged and any firefighter at the end of a nozzle will have the water interrupted and possibly cause injuries or death. Any hose that is driven over without protection has to be taken out of service and tested. Driving over a fire hose is prohibited and punishable with a fine, by City Code 197-7.
  • 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 (518) 462-7107.
  • How do I schedule a Fire Drill?
    Training is provided by Albany 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 AFD Fire Prevention Bureau at (518) 447-7879
  • 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 called from inside the house.
  • 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 for daylight savings time.
  • Does the Fire Department fill fire extinguishers?
    Albany 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 them.
  • Can I burn leaves in my yard?
    No, city ordinance prohibits outside burning leaves within the city limits.
  • Can I have recreational fire in my backyard?
    Any recreational fire must be in a wire, steel, concrete, brick or other fireproof enclosure. It must be continuously under the care of a competent adult from the time it is kindled to the time it is extinguished. It must be at least 25 feet away from any structure constructed completely or partially of wood and it cannot be within 10 feet of any type of structure. At no time may you burn garbage or any material that produces noxious odors.
  • Can I ride along with the Fire Department?
    Yes, citizens can request to ride along on a fire engine. For more information contact the Training and Education Division at 518-447-7879.
  • How much does a Fire Truck cost responding to a fire?
    Fire Engines and Ladder Trucks are supported by taxpayer revenues and there is no charge for these pieces of equipment.
  • How do I become an Albany Firefighter?
    For information on the requirements and hiring process, please visit
  • How do I get my hydrant painted/serviced?
    The Albany Fire Department does not own, nor is it responsible for the maintenance of fire hydrants. All questions concerning fire hydrants should be made to the Albany Water Department at 518-434-5316. If you have a hydrant near your property please ensure it is shoveled during the winter. Quick accessibility to a fire hydrant could save your life or the life of a neighbor.