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"Three Alarm Fire"

Posted by Bob on August 14, 2005

In Reply to: "Three Alarm Fire" posted by Smokey Stover on August 14, 2005

: : : "Three Alarm Fire" - literally. In the US media fires are often designated as "[2, 3, ...] Alarm Fire". I know that the higher the number the more serious the fire but who and what determines that a fire is literally a "two alarm fire" or a "three alarm fire"?

: : Presumably the local fire department sets standards for how big a fire must be to warrant ringing the alarm three times. I have no direct knowledge of this, however.

: Let me make a guess, worth every penny it's costing you. If a blaze is worth two alarms a second fire station is called in besides the one in the district of which the blaze is located. One fire station is not enough to handle the blaze. Three alarms, same principle. If the fire is in a town with only one firehouse, no such thing as two-alarm fires. But firefighters and equipment is often called in from neighboring towns. As I said, just a guess. SS

And a good guess it is. (One would expect no less from someone named for a cartoon fire fighter...) Definitions are a little loose, since they vary from town to town, but the escalating alarms indicate how many people, and how much equipment is to be sent to an incident, how a district must be covered by another company when its resident fire house is otherwise preoccupied, and (at the higher-level emergencies) when help from neighboring communities is requested. Five-alarm is always the max, which is why a bowl of "5-alarm chili" is going to blister your palate.

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