Fire Police are unarmed volunteer firefighters with special police training who are responsible for traffic control, crowd control, fire and incident scene security, apparatus security, and station security during calls for service.
They also assist regular Police when needed, performing road closures, traffic control, crowd control at public events, missing persons searches, parade details, salvage, security, etc. The primary role of the Fire Police is to provide support for operational requirements at moderate to major incidents.
The idea behind the Fire Police service is a simple one. During times of large-scale or particularly serious small emergencies, the response system can become overwhelmed. To that end, having a trained, equipped group of responders who can supplement or replace entirely police and fire department personnel at scenes is an invaluable tool to incident commanders.
Here are two widely different examples of how Fire Police assist the emergency response:
During a severe storm, large service areas can receive twenty to thirty calls for service regarding fallen trees across the road, electrical wires down, and traffic lights out. Most normal response protocols would detail 1-2 police vehicles to block traffic around an electrical wire that is active in the street and 1 fire engine or truck to monitor it if it is still sparking. Fire police officers (who also have fire department training) can respond and relieve all three units to respond to other emergencies. If a town has a large fire police force, they can effectively double or triple the number of incidents that can be handled by the town as a whole. During widespread incidents like a thunderstorm or tornado, this can be a great asset.
During a small scale incident like a large fire, Fire Police can add several additional officers to a scene to help gain control of an incident where many spectators and media may be drawn. Fire police often carry more sophisticated traffic control devices than most police departments which helps traffic flow easier.
Fire Police are a Fire Department resource and answer to the Officer In Charge (OIC) of the Fire Department in attendance. Where no other Fire Department resources are present, they will usually be assisting Police and therefore be taking direction from the Police OIC. They may also act autonomously depending on local regulations.
While the exact role of Fire Police may vary between Fire Departments and between countries, the general themes are the same:
Traffic Control at Emergency Scenes
Managing the flow of vehicles around or through the immediate vicinity of an emergency. This may entail road closures, diversions, full 'points' control of intersections or '1-way-shunts' where the road is reduced to one lane and the direction is alternated in a controlled fashion.
Fire Police are utilised to assist in ensuring that the scene of an incident is safe for those working in the vicinity; this includes both Firefighters and other Emergency Service workers, not to mention members of the public.
Crowd Control and Liason
Residents, owners, occupants, relatives, transients, spectators, and the media are among those who may approach the scene of an incident. Fire Police are in a position to prevent them from coming into harm, and from hampering the work of emergency services personnel at the scene. They are often the first point of contact and as such must have good public relations skills.
Fire Police are often called upon by Police and other Law Enforcement agencies to provide manpower. Many of the above tasks also fall within the the area of responsibility of the Police, but Fire Police when on the scene may allow the Police to concentrate on other more specific areas of expertise.
Fire Police may provide a Logistics resource - vehicle movements, communications or similar. This would particularly be the case at a scene controlled by the Fire Department but they may be called upon by other services.
To Become a Fire Police Member Contact John Ransom Captain Fire Police