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We're always getting questions at the Clayton Fire Department and we love it!

Why do fire trucks sometimes travel with their lights and siren on, and then all of a sudden turn them off?
My fire alarm went off and I contacted my alarm company and told them everything was OK and not to send the Fire Department and they still showed up, why?
Can I be fined for false fire alarms? What constitutes a false alarm?
Where can I get a copy of a fire report and is there a fee?
What do I do after a fire?
Can I burn my yard debris or trash in my yard?
I tried calling the non-emergency number listed in the phone book but no one answered, why?
When I called 911, the person kept asking me a bunch of questions and all I needed was a fire truck! Why don’t they just send the fire truck?
What are the work hours of fire department personnel?
What is a typical work day at the fire department and what do firefighters do when they’re not on a call?
Aren’t firefighters wasting water when they open up a hydrant and just let it run?  Why do they do that?
Why do firefighters come to my business and get information?
What training and education do I need to become a firefighter?
How does the Fire Department burn a house for training and not get in trouble?
What do I have to do to be able to drive the fire truck?
Is there a law that requires other vehicles to move out of the way for emergency vehicles?
Are fire trucks able to change traffic lights to green?
Why are fire trucks taken to the grocery store or restaurants?
How much does the gear and equipment the firefighters carry weigh?
How do I schedule a fire truck to come to my school, daycare, or other event?​
Why does Clayton have so many fire trucks and only two fire stations?
Why do the fire trucks run lights & sirens to some calls and not others?
Do the fire stations have a fire pole? If not, Why?
Do the fire trucks have water in them?
Why doesn’t Clayton have a ladder truck like other fire departments?
Does the fire dept. have a “junior” or “explorer” program? 
Why does it take so long from the time a call is placed to 911 until the time the call is actually dispatched?
Does Clayton Fire Dept. have any girl or women firefighters?
Why do the firemen go to the grocery store? Am I paying for the food in your cart?
 

Why do fire trucks sometimes travel with their lights and siren on, and then all of a sudden turn them off?

When a call for service is dispatched, CFD responds with specific apparatus and manpower depending upon the type of call. When a CFD representative (Chief Officer, first-in Engine, etc) arrives and conducts a “size-up”, additional resources may be cancelled from the call or told to reduce their response to a routine response.

My fire alarm went off and I contacted my alarm company and told them everything was OK and not to send the Fire Department and they still showed up, why?

When a fire alarm company contacts our dispatch center (Johnston County E-911 Communications) and they dispatch us, we have to respond to the incident for insurance purposes. Sometimes, the dispatcher will inform us that the alarm company has requested to cancel and at that time the Officer in-charge will inform the additional responding apparatus to cancel and the closest unit will respond to the incident. When we arrive we check for things such as:

  • Ensuring the alarm system functioned correctly
  • Ensure a fire that has been extinguished has not spread to an adjacent area
  • Ensure no malicious acts are being done (starting a fire and then telling the alarm company to cancel the fire department)
  • Ensure the area doesn’t need to be ventilated
  • Depending upon damage (even from small fires) insurance companies sometimes require a fire report
  • Answer any questions the homeowner/resident/business owner has are taken care of.

Can I be fined for false fire alarms? What constitutes a false alarm?

Yes. For Town of Clayton residents, there is an alarm ordinance (see link below). A false alarm is an alarm in which the system malfunctions for no apparent reason or where a system is activated (manual pull station) when there is no fire. A fire alarm that goes off for accidental reasons such as burnt food is not considered a false alarm (the system is doing what it’s designed to do) but repeat offenses may result in suggestions and/or recommendations from the Fire Marshal. Alarm Ordinance.

Where can I get a copy of a fire report and is there a fee?

Fire reports can be picked up from Fire Station 1 located at 325 W. Horne Street, Clayton NC 27520. Prior to going to pick up the report, you can contact the Administrative Support Specialist at 919-553-1520 and make sure it is ready and there are other means of sending reports (email, fax, etc). Report information is completed while on each call and after returning to the station however the report is not finalized in our reporting system until the start of the next business day. The Officer in charge of an incident will also relay to the affected party(s) of the report process. There is currently no fee for fire reports.

What do I do after a fire?

Recovering from a fire can be a physically and mentally draining process. When fire strikes, lives are suddenly turned around. Often, the hardest part is knowing where to begin and who to contact. The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) United States Fire Administration (USFA) has gathered the following information (see link below) to assist you in this time of need. Action on some of the suggestions will need to be taken immediately. Some actions may be needed in the future while others will be on going. The purpose of this information is to give you the assistance needed to assist you as you begin rebuilding your life. Clayton Fire Department representatives are also available to assist in this process. USFA “After the Fire”

Can I burn my yard debris or trash in my yard?

If you live inside town limits; you cannot burn anything (Town of Clayton provides pick-up for trash, yard debris, etc). To schedule a special pick-up, contact the Operations Center at 919-553-1530. It is illegal to burn trash or other debris (construction debris, yard/land debris that did not originate on the property, etc) regardless of the location. If you live outside town limits, you may burn your own yard debris. If someone sees smoke in the area and is concerned, they may contact 911 and we the Fire Department will respond to investigate the origin and make sure the public is not endangered. At times, burn bans are put into effect, especially during unusually dry conditions. Refer to the below link for specific information on open burning.

Division of Air Quality Publications

I tried calling the non-emergency number listed in the phone book but no one answered, why?

For emergencies, you need to call 911. Regular business hours are Monday – Friday 8:00am – 5:00pm and other personnel at each station 24 hours a day but depending on fire calls, projects (hydrants, pre-incident surveys, etc), and/or training drills, personnel may not be at the station. As mentioned before, if you have an emergency call 911.

When I called 911, the person kept asking me a bunch of questions and all I needed was a fire truck! Why don’t they just send the fire truck?

When you call 911 in Johnston County; the call goes to the Johnston County E-911 Communications center. In order to relay important information to responding personnel (Fire/Rescue, EMS, Law Enforcement) the questions are asked. This information can range from finding out if people are trapped in a fire or to giving medical aid directions over the phone. Dispatchers are required to obtain certain certifications (Emergency Medical Dispatch, Emergency Fire Dispatch, and Emergency Police Dispatch, to name a few) that allow them to give directions and/or assist you while emergency responders are responding. Most of the time, while one person is asking the questions or giving directions, another is dispatching the appropriate agency(s). Please be patient and provide as much information as possible. For CFD, the information is “real time” since our apparatus have mobile data computers (MDC’s) which is a direct link to the dispatchers screen and as they enter it, we see it!

What are the work hours of fire department personnel?

It varies. Our Admin personnel (Fire Chief, Deputy Chiefs, Support/Services Captain, and Administrative Support Specialist) work a typical Monday-Friday, 8:00am – 5:00pm work schedule (this time can also vary depending upon calls for service, on-call duty, etc). Our Fulltime Shift personnel are divided into 3 shifts and work a 24 hour shift on a 9 day cycle (Work 24hrs, Off 24hrs, Work 24hrs, Off 24hrs, Work 24hrs, Off 96hrs). Our Part-time personnel are assigned to a shift that mirrors our fulltime personnel shifts and have certain work requirements ranging from filling in for fulltime personnel, monthly work assignments, and training requirements.

What is a typical work day at the fire department and what do firefighters do when they’re not on a call?

Despite the misconception, firefighters DO NOT just lay around, sleep, or play video or card games while waiting to get a call! At the beginning of every shift, firefighters exchange information and then they will do their daily checks on apparatus and equipment. Depending upon the day, specific chores are done and this typically takes a couple of hours. Following daily checks, the crews will do specific project work or other needed duties (hydrants, pre-incident surveys, training, etc) until lunch time. After lunch, project work or other duties are continued and completed. Personnel are required to do physical fitness training and the allotted time is in the afternoon but is sometimes done in the morning depending upon weather, duties, etc. After a full day of work, the crew eats dinner together and another shift change may take place in the evening with part-time personnel. A similar exchange of information is done, the oncoming personnel ensure their equipment is ready for service and the crew will typically do some company level training or shift training depending upon the training schedule. After the evening hours and all duties and chores are complete personnel have personal time which they use for studying (a lot of personnel are in degree programs or special schools and during promotional times, studying is required), relaxing, etc. Sometimes this “schedule” is not as smooth; at times crews stay out and about all day or night on calls!

Aren’t firefighters wasting water when they open up a hydrant and just let it run?  Why do they do that?

There are 2 answers for this question. 1-to become familiar with the area and to know the hydrants are in working order and their flow rates, and 2-as part of the North Carolina Response Rating  Schedule (NCRRS), which determines your insurance rating, there are certain criteria we have to meet and one of those is hydrant maintenance. Our Hydrant Maintenance Program consists of flowing and flushing hydrants 2 times a year and we have set months established for this. If there any immediate concerns, we address them accordingly and we are always mindful of environmental conditions such as droughts and modify our program if needed. Caution is taken during the flowing of hydrants as to not disturb surrounding landscaping or to not cause traffic hazards.

Side note: the colored bands on the fire hydrants let fire personnel know the flow rate (depending upon the color) and the hydrants ID number for referencing in our system.

Why do firefighters come to my business and get information?

Like the question pertaining to firefighters flowing fire hydrants, this question has 2 answers. 1-to become familiar with the layout, hazards, features, etc in the event of a fire and 2-as part of the NCRRS, we have criteria we have to meet referred to as Pre-Incident Surveys or Pre-plans. The information gathered is entered onto a “Data Sheet” and we also do a drawing of the area to show hazards, features, water supply, etc. This information is updated at least twice a year (or as needed-business change, contact information, etc) and is only used by Fire Department personnel via our mobile data computers. This information is obtained two ways, phone updates and site visits. During phone updates, CFD personnel identify themselves, give a contact number the business owner can contact for verification, and obtain specific site updates and contact information over the phone. If there are any structural changes (additions / demolitions) a site visit is required to update the drawing. During site visits, CFD personnel are required to be in a departmental uniform and have their FD issued identification. If at anytime a person states they are with the fire department and are not in uniform and/or can not show you their ID, contact 911 and request law enforcement. Note: Pre-incident surveys are only conducted at businesses and these “surveys” are not fire inspections however any life safety hazards or obvious violations are forwarded to the Fire Marshal. At no time will a firefighter request to “preplan” your private dwelling (residence).

What training and education do I need to become a firefighter?

In a continued effort to reduce fire loss in NC, the legislature established GS 58-78-5.14b which requires the State Fire and Rescue Commission to establish voluntary minimum professional qualifications for all levels of fire and rescue service personnel. CFD requires specific training certifications for specific ranks and any required certification is provided to personnel. Check out our "Be a Firefighter" page or our "Training" page to learn more about what we do as firefighters. A minimum high school diploma or general education development (GED) diploma is required for employment at CFD and to also receive certifications through the NC State Fire and Rescue Commission. For advancement through fire service ranks, advanced education (degree programs) are preferred and sometimes required.

How does the Fire Department burn a house for training and not get in trouble?

Burning of acquired structures for training (referred to as “Live Burns”) is done through a very detailed, paperwork, specific process. The time frame for scheduling a live burn can vary between 2-3 months, sometimes longer depending upon circumstances. The reason of the lengthy time is the scheduling aspect of ensuring enough personnel are available to participate, approval process through state agencies, notification/approval process through local government (live burns typically involve traffic issues and CFD has to obtain approval for traffic diversion through council process), and the notification process through NC Office of State Fire Marshal. A lot of preparation has to be done for a live burn since it is one of the most dangerous aspects of training we conduct. Even if all paperwork is complete and the preparation is done, we are also at the mercy of the weather and depending upon certain conditions; we may or may not be able to conduct the live burn. The processes of conducting a live burn are explained in the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Guidelines 1403 (Standard on Live Fire Training Evolutions) and 1142 (Standard on Water Supplies for Suburban and Rural Firefighting). This process does involve some cost to the owner of the property however the cost is much lower than that of a demolition company because at the conclusion of the live burn, we conduct a “burn down” and anything that can burn, will burn, which reduces the overall cost of disposal. If you have a structure to donate, you can contact the Clayton Fire Department Deputy Chief of Operations at 919-553-1520.

What do I have to do to be able to drive the fire truck?

We get asked (or told) a lot that all “they” want to do is drive! While driving looks fun to most, at times it is the most important job there is as related to personnel safety. Not only is the driver (referred to as the Engineer) responsible for the safe travel of the crew to and from calls, they are also responsible for the general publics safety. When the crew arrives at the scene, the Engineer is then responsible for the safety of the crew because he/she operates the fire truck and controls the amount of water given to the crews as they fight fire, the amount of lighting and/or power to the crew operating equipment, and even the positioning of the truck to block for oncoming traffic. The Engineer position is a promoted position and personnel have to meet and exceed the requirements of a Firefighter prior to taking the classes for being a driver. Even if someone has past experience operating heavy vehicles, even other fire trucks, certain training procedures and certifications have to be obtained because every apparatus handles and operates differently. At CFD our drivers have to first have 3 years experience and get permission to begin driver training from their assigned officer and training officer. Then, they have to complete the NC Driver/Operator certification program (146 hours), then under the direction of a certified instructor and current Driver/Operator (referred to as a check-off person), they have to log a minimum of 60 hours (30 hours pump time and 30 hours driving time), complete a road course for each district on all CFD apparatus, satisfactory complete a pump practical test, and then drive to a set number of calls with an approved check-off person before they are released to drive without a check-off person. Although not all CFD personnel are drivers, all have to complete an Emergency Vehicle Driving certification program which covers other aspects of driving related to emergency and personal vehicles.

Is there a law that requires other vehicles to move out of the way for emergency vehicles?

Yes. NC Law G.S 20-156 requires vehicles to yield to emergency vehicles when the emergency vehicle is giving a warning signal such as emergency flashing lights and an audible device such as a siren. In addition to yielding to emergency vehicles, NC Law G.S. 20-157(f) (Move Over Law) requires motorists to move over one lane when an emergency vehicle is stopped on the side of a roadway. In the event the motorist cannot move over, they shall slow and be prepared to stop.

Are fire trucks able to change traffic lights to green?

Yes. One stop light in Clayton (Hwy 70 Business / Robertson Street) is equipped with a special receiver that reacts to a special light on emergency apparatus. This signal turns the traffic lights in which the emergency vehicle is approaching to green (including the turn lane) and all other lights are changed to red. This allows safe passage of the emergency vehicle(s) through a rather busy intersection with multiple turn lanes. This signal is approved through NCDOT and is only used for emergency events.

Why are fire trucks taken to the grocery store or restaurants?

As mentioned above, our personnel work 24 hour shifts and like everyone else, they have to eat! In order to be able to respond quickly to calls for service and maintain response requirements (time frames and personnel safety), the crew will take the fire truck to get their groceries or they may decide to eat as a group at a local restaurant. Also, meals are paid for by the crew, not through the Town of Clayton.

How much does the gear and equipment the firefighters carry weigh?

The gear that is worn by firefighters is commonly referred to as “turnout gear” and can weigh as much as 50 lbs depending on what each firefighter carries in his pockets (variety of hand tools, specialty purpose tools, etc). By the time the Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) and other equipment is added (depending upon the type of call) firefighters have to carry as much as an additional 100-150 lbs.

How do I schedule a fire truck to come to my school, daycare, or other event?

When we schedule a “station tour” or “fire truck showing”, we incorporate a fire prevention presentation to educate children and adults on the importance of fire safety. Instead of focusing on Fire Prevention during the one week of October designated as “Fire Prevention Week”, we focus on it throughout the year! The schedule is maintained through our Risk Management Division / Fire Marshal’s Office and we reach over 4,000 people annually, ranging in ages from 3 years old to senior citizens. To schedule an event, contact Clayton Fire Department at 919-553-1520.

Side note: Events may be interrupted, postponed, or sometimes canceled depending upon calls for services, other events, etc. We recommend anyone that has a scheduled event to contact CFD at the above number on the day of the event to make sure there are no schedule changes or issues. Even with contact information on our calendar, fire department personnel may be busy with handling a call and not have an opportunity to make a phone call.

Why does Clayton have so many fire trucks and only two fire stations?

Clayton Fire Dept. has so many trucks because they come from various sources like state and federal grants and other sources. The other reason is because CFD trucks all have specific duties for which they perform and function ranging from residential fires, fires in areas of the county with no fire hydrants, to brush fires and water rescue related calls. Clayton also has trucks that serve as rehab operations during an incident where the firemen may be on the scene for an extended amount of time. The reason Clayton only has two fire stations can be looked at from different views. Mainly it has to deal with the population, in numbers, that would be served by the number of stations, meaning, you have to have X amount of stations to adequately serve X amount of citizens. The distance and response time also plays a role. The other factors range from budget aspects to plots of land.

Why do the fire trucks run lights & sirens to some calls and not others?

This is fairly simple to explain. The fire trucks run lights and sirens, “emergency” to some calls and not others, “non emergency” due to the nature of the call. Not that one call is more important than the other, but the nature of the call determines whether lights and sirens are ran or not. The call may come in as someone has locked their keys in their car, or a general clean up of glass from the side of the road, well, as this is still a serious event to some, it, however, isn’t as important as a residential or commercial fire, a Code Blue, fire alarm or a carbon monoxide alarm where the homeowner can’t be reached, or more importantly, a child locked inside of a vehicle, so in the event of moving traffic over, stopping then proceeding through red lights, or passing vehicles for someone locking keys inside a car, this is why calls are deemed “emergency Vs. non emergency.

Do the fire stations have a fire pole? If not, Why?

No. Most fire stations today do not have a fire pole. Mainly this is due to insurance reasons. A fire pole can still be put in a firehouse, but in all likelihood, if one is put in a new station today, it wouldn’t be able to be used. Some older fire stations still have them and still use them today, but most fire stations built today do not have them.

Do the fire trucks have water in them?

Yes they do. Water is carried in the trucks all of the time.

Why doesn’t Clayton have a ladder truck like other fire departments?

Clayton does have a need for a ladder truck to help respond to calls at buildings that are more than 3 stories (or 32 feet) tall, like several manufacturing buildings, apartment complexes, and other residential and/or commercial structures in our district.  Ladder trucks cost a substantial amount of money and town leaders must weigh all town needs when they consider how to spend taxpayer money in a tight budget.  Some fire departments have received state and federal grants.  Others have partnered with the private sector with some major companies even offering to pay or help pay for the cost of a ladder truck to help provide this valuable protection.

Does the fire dept. have a “junior” or “explorer” program?

Not at this time

Why does it take so long from the time a call is placed to 911 until the time the call is actually dispatched?

This is simple to explain, but may still be complicated to understand unless you know how the 911 system works. When a call is placed to 911, there are a series of questions that have to be asked to the caller that pertain to what the problem is and what is going on. These questions are asked in an order which will ultimately designate the specific emergency department or departments that need to be dispatched to you. After the questions are completed, and all information is gathered, the dispatcher has to then dispatch the appropriate department or departments and relay the information. All of this time may seem like it takes a while, when in reality, considering some of the circumstances, it’s not that long at all. It sometimes is the situation that may make it seem longer than it actually is.

Does Clayton Fire Dept. have any girl or women firefighters?

Yes

Why do the firemen go to the grocery store? Am I paying for the food in your cart?

The firemen go to the grocery store to pick up the food or groceries that they are needing to cook the meals they want for the day. There are fulltime firefighters at Clayton, and they are at work for 24 hours a day, so they have the choice to either go out to eat or go pick up some groceries to cook at the stations. No, you aren’t paying for the food in the carts. All of the groceries and food that is purchased by the firefighters is paid for by them individually. The firefighters are paid a salary and when the meals are prepared at the stations, the costs are divided up amongst the ones eating and all is paid for.

If you have a question you don’t see here, feel free to contact Clayton Fire Department at 919-553-1520 or you can “Like” us on Facebook and ask us there! CFD on Facebook

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