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Frequently Asked Questions

Click on a question to go to the answer (the list of answers is at the bottom of this page).

Helpful Questions

Questions About Our Non-Emergency Operations

Questions About Our Emergency Operations

Hazardous Materials and Chemical Questions

Firefighter Recruitment Questions

Ask a Question Not Found Here.

Helpful Questions

Q. What is the best kind of fire extinguisher for my home?

A. A multi-purpose fire extinguisher is best for the home. Look for the rating to be at least 2A10BC on the label. This extinguisher can be used on any type of fire commonly found in the home. (It will often be labeled A-B-C.) It is recommended that an extinguisher be installed in the kitchen and in the garage.

Q. What rating fire extinguisher is needed in a business?

A. Extinguishers are required based on the type of hazard at your business. The minimum rating for an office with normal combustibles is:  2A:10B:C.  This is usually a 5-pound dry chemical type fire extinguisher.

Q. What do I do with my old fire extinguisher?

A. If the pressure gauge needle is in the green, practice using the fire extinguisher in an open area.

Remember the PASSword:
            Pull the pin,
            Aim at the base of the fire,
            Squeeze the handle and
            Sweep the nozzle.

        Once you are done, sweep up the fire extinguishing chemical powder and put it in the trash, it is not hazardous for trash collection.

        If the pressure gauge needle is in the red, squeeze the handle in an open area until no gas comes out, then place in the trash.

Q. How many smoke detectors do I need in my home to provide adequate protection for my family and where do I install them?

A. You should have at least one smoke detector in each bedroom, the hallway, in the sleeping area, and at the top of all stairways. Smoke rises, so the best place to install a detector is on the ceiling or high on an inside wall approximately 6-8 inches below the ceiling. However, do not install a smoke detector within three feet of any device that might blow the smoke away, or near a bathroom or other area that can have steam.

Q. What type of smoke detector should I buy?

A. A battery-operated smoke detector, available at hardware or home stores, is sufficient. Be sure to test the batteries monthly and change them once a year.

Q. How do I know if my smoke detector is working properly? How long do batteries last in a smoke detector?

A. The fire department recommends that you test your smoke detector monthly. This is done in two ways: 1) push the test button or, 2) blow out a candle and hold the smoke up to the detector. Either method should work. Batteries normally last up to one year, and usually the smoke detector provides an audible indication (a chirp) when the batteries become weak. As a reminder, the fire department suggests you "Change your clock, Change your battery" each fall of the year.

Q. How do I get a tour of the fire station?

A. Tours for groups or individuals may be set up by calling the Administration Office at (310) 524-2234 or the on-duty Battalion Chief at (310) 524-2228, during regular business hours (7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday). Every effort will be made to accommodate the date and time you want.  Individuals may stop by the fire station and request a tour. Any available firefighter will be happy to take you around.

Q. How can I get my blood pressure checked?

A. Free blood pressure checks are offered at Fire Station #1 during regular business hours and once a month, on the 3rd Tuesday at 4:30 P.M. at the Senior Citizens Potluck held at the Joslyn Center.

Q. How often should my business/home be inspected?

A. Inspections are conducted annually on apartment buildings, 5 units and above, and all businesses. Home inspections can be requested by calling the Fire Prevention Division at 524-2234.

Q. What size address is required on a business or residence? 

A. Address numbers must be a minimum of 4-inches in height for residential buildings, 6-inches for commercial and retail buildings, and 12-inches in height for industrial buildings.  The address must be posted on the alley side of the building.  The address numbers must be visible from the street and/or alley and needs to be a contrasting color to the building.

Q. How often should my fire alarm system be tested?

A. Fire alarm systems in commercial properties and apartment buildings must be tested annually by an approved and licensed company.

Q. How often should my sprinkler or standpipe system be tested?

A. Systems are required to have maintenance and testing done annually and every five years by a licensed contractor.  The annual inspection includes an operational test, with the five year test and maintenance a more functional test.  Contractors must call 310-524-2234 to schedule an El Segundo Fire Department inspector to witness the five-year testing, and to arrange for fee payment.

Q. What type of extension cord can I use?

A. A UL-listed relocateable power strip is the only allowable extension cord device which can be used either in a business or a residence.

Q.  Whom do I call to get information on CPR and First Aid classes?

     A.  You may contact the American Red Cross (ARC) or the American Heart Association (AHA) for class information.  Local chapters include:  ARC-Torrance (310) 225-2900 and AHA-Los Angeles County (310) 291-7000.

Q.  Can I burn something outdoors?

A.  The City of El Segundo does not permit the burning of trash, rubbish, grass, or leaves.

Q. How do I obtain sandbags to protect my residence/business from flooding?

A. Sandbags are provided for businesses and residents of the City by calling (310) 524-2709 and are available at the City Maintenance Facility, located at 150 Illinois Street. This office is open Monday-Thursday, 7:00 a.m.- 12:00  p.m.

Q. What are counter review times?

A. The Fire Prevention Division is normally available for counter plan review, Monday through Thursday, from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM at Building & Safety.  Call (310) 524-2395 to confirm availability.

Q. What types of plans can be reviewed over the counter?

A. See below for a list by category:

Architectural Tenant Improvement

  • B Occupancy plans with remodels up to 10,000 sq. ft. in total construction area.
  • A-3 occupancy plans with remodels up to 3,000 sq. ft.
  • F and H occupancy tenant improvement plans may not be reviewed over the counter, they must be submitted for plan review.


  • Gates that obstruct a fire department access road/lane.  

Fire Alarm Systems

  • Plans are limited to the addition and/or relocation of five initiating devices and the addition and/or relocation of notification appliances for tenant improvement work up to 5,000 sq. ft.
  • Any new fire alarm control panels and/or power supplies may not be reviewed over the counter, they must be submitted for plan review.

Fire Sprinkler Water Flow Monitoring

  • Plans are limited to water flow monitoring only, to include a fire alarm control panel, one remote annunciator panel, one manual pull station, one smoke detector, one water flow device, two supervisory devices, and one horn/strobe.

Fire Sprinkler Tenant Improvement

  • Plans are for addition or relocation of up to 10 new and/or 50 relocated fire sprinkler heads due to tenant improvement work.

Emergency Repairs to Private Fire Main Systems

  • Plans are limited to a repair of an existing underground private fire service main that is placed out of service due to a break.


Questions About Our Non-Emergency Operations

Q. How many firefighters are on duty?

A. There are 14 Firefighters on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These Firefighters staff fire units at two stations. There is one fire engine, one paramedic unit and one Battalion Chief at Fire Station 1.  There is one fire engine, one fire truck and one paramedic unit at Fire Station 2.

Q. Are all firefighters required to be a paramedic?

A. No, all firefighters are trained to the level of Emergency Medical Technician I. Our firefighters are also trained in the use of automatic emergency defibrillators. The paramedic position is a special assignment. Firefighters interested in serving as a paramedic participate in an internal selection process.

Q. Do Paramedics also fight fire?

A. Yes, paramedics perform dual functions of emergency medical service and fire suppression operations.

Q. How much water is carried on the fire engine?

A. All El Segundo fire engines have 500-gallon water tanks and the fire truck has a 300-gallon water tank.

Q. What kind of non-emergency responses do you offer?

A. We often find it necessary to use our ground ladders as well as our aerial ladder truck in a number of non-emergency operations and we often send equipment and personnel to assist citizens with water removal from flooding. We get calls to assist the elderly who have fallen and help with people locked out of their homes or vehicles.

Q. What is the difference between a Fire Truck and a Fire Engine?

A. The engine has a pump and a water tank. The truck has a big mechanical ladder on top.

Q. Can I get my blood pressure checked at the fire stations?

A. You can have your blood pressure tested at El Segundo Fire Station 1 located at 314 Main Street during office hours.

Q. What are the firefighters schedules like? Do the firefighters spend the night at the fire station?

A. El Segundo Firefighters work a rotating 48/96 hour shifts, which means they are on-duty for 48 hours then off for 96 hours. This type of shift schedule requires them to stay at the fire station. Firefighters are ready to respond 24 hours per day and are often awoken each night to respond on calls. 24-hour shifts are generally the most cost-effective method of providing emergency medical services and fire suppression to the community.

Q. How does the daily operation of the Fire Department function?

A. The functions are divided into two primary areas, emergency and non-emergency. Emergency operations consist of fire alarms, medical calls, hazardous materials incidents, natural disasters, and automatic and mutual aid responses. Non-emergencency operations consist of fire prevention, training, maintenance, and public education activities.

Q. What do you do when you are not fighting fires?

A. Fighting fires are only a small portion of a firefighter's duties. Firefighters are responsible for the care and upkeep of all apparatus and equipment used in fighting fires. All equipment must be in top condition and ready for any type of incident. Maintenance of apparatus and equipment is vitally important to the fire service. Our apparatus, equipment and quarters are maintained to the highest standards. This not only assures us of proper operating conditions, but it constantly familiarizes members with the technical aspects of our equipment. Firefighters participate in ongoing training sessions of an average of two hours per day to ensure they are familiar with all aspects of firefighting techniques. These skills need to be practiced regularly as they are not used on a daily basis. Maintaining a high level of preparedness and effectiveness requires an annual training program to keep up with changes in procedures and equipment. As technology changes, so do the methods of dealing with associated problems of that technology. We are constantly trained in new methods of various types of emergency preparedness. Firefighters also conduct annual inspections of all businesses within the City to ensure they meet standards for safety.

Q. Who cooks the meals at the station?

A. Firefighters take turns doing the cooking.

Q. Who cleans the station?

A. Each firefighter has an assigned cleaning area.

Q. Why do we always see the fire engines at the market?

A. Since firefighters work a 48 hour shift, they need to go to the market to get groceries for the meals they prepare at the station.

Q. Why do so many firefighters come to do the annual inspections?

A. Engine and truck companies need to stay together in case they need to respond to an emergency. It permits them to respond faster when all company members are already together.

Q. What does the Fire Department have to offer to local businesses?

A. The Fire Department provides local businesses both fire and medical emergency response; assistance with pre-fire planning, and evacuation planning; office safety and fire extinguisher training for employees; emergency preparedness planning; and annual fire inspections. In regard to environmental programs, the Department is able to provide guidance on how to comply with various requirements through consultation or guidance documents. Inspections are conducted on a routine basis and are intended to reduce environmental hazards through education and engineering. The personnel are very familiar with each operation and can suggest rational and economical solutions towards compliance.

Q. What is involved in plan check for fire prevention?

A. Contractors submit building plans to the City. We use fire protection codes and regulations to check the plans to ensure the safety of the people who will occupy the building or area. We look for things such as how people in the building can get out easily and safely without being locked in or confused. We also have certain protection systems built into the structure such as fire sprinklers and suppression systems that will work properly when they are needed.

Q. What do you look for on a fire inspection?

A. For life safety on new construction we look to see if what was shown on the plans is actually what has been installed. On an annual inspection we look for potential safety hazards that can be abated before they become a serious problem. Mutual cooperation is our main objective to get code compliance. The Department will point out a problem and try to show that it is in everyone's best interest to make the area as safe as possible.

Q. What does the Department do to let people know how to stop fires from occurring?

A. The El Segundo Fire Department uses a variety of ways to educate the public about fires. They include information booths at community functions, open house at the fire station, and fire safety publications that we make available to the public. We have "Sparky" our Dalmatian dog that helps us at functions and at school to teach things like "stop, drop and roll" and "learn not to burn." We also promote smoke detector usage in the home.

Q. Where can I read a copy of the International Fire Code?

A. A copy of the International Fire Code is available for review in the Fire Prevention Office at 314 Main Street during office hours (7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday).

Questions About Our Emergency Operations

Q. What happens when someone dials 9-1-1?

A. When you dial 9-1-1, you will speak with a dispatcher. The dispatcher will determine what apparatus and personnel need to be dispatched to handle your specific emergency.

Q. How is response to emergencies determined?

A. Depending on the emergency situation, Police, Fire, or Police and Fire will be dispatched. Police are dispatched to situations involving robbery, assault, public nuisance, domestic disputes, and traffic collisions. Fire is dispatched to medical emergencies, fires whether actual or suspected, hazardous materials spills or releases, and traffic collisions, if injuries are suspected. Fire and Police can respond on hazardous materials incidents and traffic accidents.

The City is divided into two districts for fire response, with Sepulveda Boulevard as the dividing line. Station 1 handles calls west of Sepulveda and Station 2 handles calls east of Sepulveda. Depending on the nature or size of the alarm, units will cross over into the other district to assist. When an alarm to any address with serious consequences to life or property exists, all units within the City will respond.

Q. What happens when an incident gets too big?

A. The City participates in Mutual or Automatic Aid Agreements with surrounding cities (Torrance, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, City of L.A. and County of L.A.) In the event of a major incident, we can call on neighboring agencies for assistance. If we need additional resources we can receive them from within the County, from other Counties, within the State, and outside the State depending on our needs. The mutual aid system can provide us with all the resources we need to handle any emergency.

Q. Does the City lose any fire protection when our units are out of town?

A. No! On an incident where we send out our engine companies for an extended period of time, we recall Firefighters to staff the reserve fire apparatus.

Q. What is Urban Search and Rescue (USAR)?

A. Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) is performance of specialized rescue techniques for unusual rescue challenges and disaster responses such as earthquakes and building collapses. Training consists of high angle rescue, confined space rescue, trench shoring and rescue, and building collapse shoring and rescue.

Q. Tell me a little bit about your medical services.

A. El Segundo Fire Department provides response to any medical emergency. Two paramedic rescue ambulances are on duty 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. All firefighters are trained to the Emergency Medical Technician level (EMT-1) and fifteen (15) firefighters are trained Paramedics. The El Segundo Fire Department has two state-of-the-art ambulances with constantly updated equipment. Each day these ambulances are staffed with two Paramedics on each and have full transportation capability. Each fire engine and the fire truck have Automated External Defibrillators (A.E.D.s) on board in addition to the Paramedics full-function defibrillators.

Q. Why does a fire engine always respond with the ambulance?

A. An engine is dispatched with the Rescue Ambulance whenever it is anticipated that additional assistance will be needed. Paramedics work as a two person team and will have their hands full with any emergency call. The engine company personnel are part of that team and assist in setting up equipment, loading patients, and all phases of emergency medical duties.

Q. Why do so many firefighters respond on a medical emergency?

A. A rescue ambulance with two firefighter/paramedics and an engine with three firefighters are dispatched on most medical emergencies. The additional staffing is often needed for moving a patient; providing CPR compressions and/or ventilation with a full arrest situation; controlling the scene; assisting with multiple victims; getting medical history information, allergies information, or to stabilize a scene, a vehicle, or provide safety to patients and firefighters. By having the additional personnel, the paramedics are freed to concentrate their efforts on the victim or victims, starting IVs, administering drugs, defibrillating, establishing airways, talking to the base-station hospital for treatment orders, etc.. Also, since all firefighters are EMT-1 trained, if they arrive on the scene prior to the paramedics, they can begin Basic Life Support.

Q. Can I be transported to the hospital of my choice?

A. Depending upon the nature and seriousness of your injury or illness, and if the other facilities will accept you, we may transport you to a local hospital of your choice.

Q. Does the Fire Department charge a fee to respond to an emergency?

A. No fee is charged for the fire department to respond to an emergency. The only fees charged are for ambulance transportation in an emergency, to a hospital.

Q. If I suspect a poison was swallowed, what phone number should I call?

A. Call 911 first!!! You may also call the Poison Control Center after dialing 911, at 1-800-876-4766.

Q. How do you know where a fire started?

A. We conduct investigations for the origin and cause of every fire. Personnel are trained to conduct fire investigations in a predetermined sequence that will track the actions of people and the spread of the fire. Finding the point where a fire started is a complex process involving asking numerous questions of people such as, what did you do or see, taking lots of photographs, and recreating the scene. It is a time consuming and sometimes extremely difficult process, however, it must be done so that we can learn what happened. We can then use the information and take precautions so that the fire will not be repeated in the future.

Hazardous Materials and Chemical Questions

Q. I have some old paint, paint thinner, oil and rags in my garage. Can you come by and pick them up or can I leave them at the fire station?

A. The Fire Department cannot pick up household hazardous materials or store them at the fire station if they are left. Household hazardous materials need to be disposed of by taking them to a local county-wide roundup. For a schedule of upcoming dates and sites, call the L.A. County Department of Public Works, toll free, at 1-888-253-2652, Monday through Thursday, for information. In Los Angeles City areas, dial 1-800-988-6942.

Q. I am a consultant hired to review documents for a specific property in the City in regards to underground tanks, hazardous spills, and possible contamination on the property. May I review files for this information?

A. Yes. Complete a copy of the "Request for Copies of Environmental Documents" form, which can be found on the Environmental Safety division page, or through "Documents" link.  Further instructions can be found at the bottom of the form.

Q. How do I schedule an appointment to have my business or residence inspected or audited for hazardous materials?

A. An inspection can be made by calling for an appointment with the Environmental Safety Manager at (310) 524-2242.

Q. What are the hazards involved with having a refinery or other chemical operations within the City?

A. The refinery and other chemical operations are closely monitored by the City's Environmental Safety Division to maintain federal, state and local compliance. The City participates in a mass notification system that automatically contacts residents and businesses via telephone, that have requested being on the system, within the critical distance of facilities if there is an actual or perceived emergency. To be included in the automated mass notification system, contact the Environmental Safety Manager at (310) 524-2242.

Q. What types of environmental regulations does the Fire Department administer?

A. The City of El Segundo is a designated Certified Unified Program Agency or "CUPA", which authorizes the City to implement various State environmental programs locally. The programs administered by the Fire Department include:

  • Hazardous Materials Disclosure - annual disclosure of chemicals that exceed 55 gallons, 500 pounds or 200 cubic feet and which are stored or used within a business;
  • Accidental Release Prevention Program - requires the development of plans and installation of equipment to reduce the dangers posed by extremely hazardous substances or explosive compounds;
  • Underground Storage Tank - inspection of businesses that use underground tanks for storing chemicals or fuels that may leak into groundwater;
  • Aboveground Tanks - inspection of petroleum tanks exceeding 1320 gallons, which may leak into surface waters or ocean;
  • Hazardous Waste - Regulation of chemicals that are toxic and no longer used by a business. Ensures chemical wastes are legally treated or disposed of at permitted facilities;
  • International Fire Code - Ensures dangerous chemicals are reported to the Fire Department.

Q. What should I do in case of a chemical release?

A. We recommend "Sheltering-in-place", by going indoors and tightly shutting all windows and doors leading outdoors. Air conditioners and heaters must be shut down to prevent entry of harmful chemicals. You may receive an automated telephone call advising you of the hazardous condition and when it is safe to come outdoors.

Q. Our City seems to have an extremely high potential for hazardous materials incidents. How are we prepared to handle incidents of this nature?

A. We have an Environmental Safety Manager and an environmental safety vehicle with specialized equipment as well as having all personnel trained to Hazardous Materials First Responder Operational. We are also linked into an automated mass notification system for emergencies.

Q. What types of environmental regulations does the Fire Department administer?

A. Currently, the Fire Department oversees "Community Right-to-Know" requirements and a Chemical Accident Prevention Program which are intended to inform the community of possible chemical hazards in industry. 

Firefighter Recruitment Questions

Q. How can I become a reserve or auxiliary firefighter?

A. El Segundo does not have a reserve/auxiliary program. Other local departments have reserve/auxiliary programs. Each department has their own requirements you would need to contact the department you are interested in becoming a reserve/auxiliary for further information.

Q. Which community colleges in this area have fire science programs?

A. El Camino Community College has a Fire Technology Program.

Q. Which community colleges have academy programs?

A. El Camino Community College has a state certified Fire Academy.

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