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Frequently Asked Questions

Are tours of the fire station available?

Yes.  Call (406)758-7760 to make an appointment.  Please specify the following:

      • Date and time of request
      • Number of people in the group
      • Age of participants
      • Contact person’s name and phone number
      • Which station your group would prefer to tour

Be mindful that our first priority is emergency response and disruptions and/or cancellations may occur.

Does the fire department rescue cats from trees?

No.  Place an open can of tuna at the base of the tree and leave the area.  The cat should come down on its own. 

Can I get my blood pressure taken at the fire station?

Yes.  Stop by either station, preferably between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm, and we will be happy to take your blood pressure.

Do you have a volunteer program?

No.  Kalispell Fire has been a career department since 1935.  If you are interested in volunteering as a firefighter, rewarding opportunities exist in many of the surrounding fire districts.  See our Links page for more information.

Why do fire engines/trucks and ambulances respond for emergency medical calls?

For faster advanced medical care.  Most of Kalispell’s firefighters are cross-trained as paramedics and we carry much of the same medical equipment on our fire apparatus as the ambulances.  For serious medical calls, the patient will benefit from having the closest available unit respond to initiate care and having the additional personnel to assist with care and preparation for transport saves even more time.  In these cases, an engine company is sent with an ambulance so that advanced care (intravenous access, medication administration, cardiac electrical therapy, etc.) can be done promptly resulting in better patient outcomes. 

What should I do when an emergency vehicle is approaching displaying emergency lights and sirens?

Calmly pull to the right shoulder or curb and stop, when safe to do so.

Why do I see fire trucks or ambulances parked outside of grocery stores?

Firefighters work a unique schedule consisting of 24-hour shifts and have no allotted meal breaks.  They generally combine their own money to supply food for the shift.  They do not have the freedom to go anywhere alone, as crew integrity must be maintained to allow the most effective service at the time of an emergency.  Firefighters are often out of their stations for long hours running emergency calls, training, conducting fire inspections, hydrant testing and fulfilling public education requests.  They remain available for calls by portable radio and will respond regardless of location or non-emergent status anytime they are outside of the station.  Also, this is a great time for the community to say ‘hi’, ask questions of the firefighters, or view the fire apparatus.

  

What is Kalispell’s ISO (Insurance Services Office) rating?

Kalispell Fire has a level 3 ISO rating.  ISO is a leading source of information about property/casualty insurance risk. 

Can I burn waste and/or have a bonfire in my yard?

Open burning is prohibited at all times in the city.  A small recreational warming fire is allowed so long as it does not produce offensive smoke or odor emissions and is contained inside an approved structure and is not within 25 feet of a structure. Attendance is required at all times and the fire must be fully extinguished upon completion.

How do I get my child’s car seat inspected?

Contact the Flathead Health Department and make an appointment.  They also provide car seat clinics valley-wide.

Can I do a ride-a-long on a fire truck or ambulance?

Usually riders are limited to EMT-Basic and Paramedic students.  However, we do accept riders on a space-available basis at the discretion of the Duty Officer.  All riders may be subject to a background check.  Riders that are not affiliated with a recognized college and an approved course of study will be strictly observers only.

How do I become a firefighter with Kalispell?

The Kalispell Fire Department occasionally hires qualified individuals, as needed.  We look for motivated people with work history and education related to the fields of pre-hospital medicine (EMS) and fire science.  As with most career departments, the selection process is highly competitive and should warrant serious preparation. When openings occur, we conduct our own hiring process including:   a written exam, physical agility test, background questionnaire, multiple interview panels and an evaluated pre-employment ride-a-long. 

How do I become an EMT or Paramedic?

All relevant EMS coursework is offered locally at Flathead Valley Community College

What do firefighters do when they are not running fire or EMS calls?

Kalispell firefighters maintain 20 hours of training per month as a minimum standard.  All firefighters are at least EMT-Basic certified, with most being Paramedics; these EMS certifications have additional continuing education requirements.  They also conduct “company-level” commercial fire prevention inspections, check and maintain equipment and apparatus, teach fire safety to schools, test hydrants, study, maintain physical condition, conduct station tours, supervise fire drills, and document all fire and EMS calls.  Some firefighters are involved in various departmental committees and special teams, such as hazardous materials, rope rescue and tactical paramedicine (SWAT medic).  Due to shifts of 24 hours, firefighters also shop, pay for, and prepare all of their own meals and complete normal household chores around the station.


 

Are there other considerations when installing smoke detectors?

Mount smoke detectors in the middle of the ceiling, if possible. If not, mount detectors on the wall, at least three feet from a corner and 4-6 inches from the ceiling. Keep detectors away from fans or air ducts.

Avoid placing the detector too close to kitchen stoves and bathroom showers. Mount basement detectors at the bottom of the basement stairwell.

Do extinguishers really need to be serviced every year?

They may not need to be serviced but even if an extinguisher hasn't been used, it still needs to be inspected to make sure there's no corrosion, that nothing has been damaged, and that everything is set for it to operate properly when needed. In many cases, they just need to be examined and/or weighed (CO2 extinguishers). However depending on extinguisher type and age (usually every 6 years for those over 12 year old) they must be taken apart, inspected internally or pressure tested, then reassembled, recharged and permanently marked with a label indicating the service date.

How do fire sprinklers work?

At each sprinkler, the water under pressure in the pipe is held back by a plug held in place either by metal parts or a small glass vial filled with fluid. When sufficient heat hits a sprinkler, the special solder holding the metal parts together melts, or the fluid in the glass vial expands enough to break the glass. In either case, the plug is released and the water begins to flow. Fire sprinklers are proven to save lives, enabling occupants to escape the area of the fire.

Is one smoke detector enough?

Generally, several detectors are required to provide full protection. Smoke detectors should be installed on every living level of the home, inside each bedroom, and in the main corridor outside each bedroom area.

What can I do to improve fire safety in my work area?

First line supervisors should conduct work site surveys of their area on a regular basis, at least quarterly. These surveys should include observations of worksite safety and housekeeping issues and should specifically address:

  • proper storage of chemicals and supplies,
  • monitoring of electrical equipment, extension cords
  • availability and condition of fire safety equipment
  • unobstructed access to fire extinguishers, and
  • Emergency evacuation routes.

Also, they should ensure that an emergency evacuation plan is present in work areas and that personnel are familiar with the plan. Emergency egress should be kept clear and every exit clearly visible or the route to it conspicuously identified in such a manner that occupants of the building will readily know the direction of escape from any point. Main building exit and main pathways to exits are to be marked by illuminated exit signs. Each exit sign (other than internally illuminated signs) are to be illuminated by a reliable light. All building or business safety equipment (extinguishers, fire hoses, exit signs, emergency lab equipment, etc) need to be inspected at least annually and repaired or replaced if inoperative, damaged or missing. At no time should an exit be blocked. Any doorway or passageway which is not an exit or access to an exit but which may be mistaken for an exit, must be identified by a sign reading "Not An Exit" or a sign indicating it actual use (i.e., "Storeroom").


What fireworks are illegal in Kalispell?

Any type of Firecracker, Bottle Rocket, Missile, Sky Rocket, Reloadable Aerial Shells, hand held Fountains and any device that produces solely smoke.

What is a ‘Proper fire extinguisher’? Are there different kinds of extinguishers for different kinds of fires?

Yes, there are. The universal standard extinguisher (good on most small fires you might encounter) for the last 10-20 years is the "ABC", or multi-purpose extinguisher. It can be used on a Class A, B or C fire.

  • Class A is ordinary combustible materials such as wood, cloth, paper, etc.
  • Class B means flammable liquids, such as oil, gasoline, kerosene, etc. and
  • Class C refers to the presence of energized electrical circuits (e.g., an electric motor, electrical wiring, etc.).

However, there are several other kinds of extinguishers available which are only effective when used on the kind of fire for which they were intended. These include:

  • Pressurized water - Class A only
  • Carbon dioxide - Class B and C only
  • "B-C" Dry chemical - Class B and C only
  • "K" for cooking and kitchen areas
  • "D" dry chemical - for self-spontaneous igniting/burning fires, usually these involve combustible metals, such as magnesium, zirconium, potassium, and sodium.

What is a charged extinguisher? How often do extinguishers need to be inspected, tested or serviced?

Extinguishers, fire hoses and other fire safety equipment (alarms, exit signs, emergency lights) need to be checked on a regular basis to ensure they are in working condition. Typically a quick visual check is to be done at least monthly by an employee or the monitor in the area. Under law, extinguishers and hoses must be checked and documented at least once a year by a qualified inspector. They also must have a sign-off tag (or other documentation) to verify that they have been inspected. Extinguishers must be recharged anytime that they have been used (of course), if the pin has been pulled (seal broken), or the gauge is not in the green (or whatever color the proper pressure area happens to be). Even if an extinguisher was only used a small amount it must be serviced as the used powder clogs the valve and prevents reuse.


 

What safety tips would you advise for babysitters?

Planning and prevention are the keys to fire safety. Protect yourself and the children in your care by taking some simple precautions.

PLAN YOUR ESCAPE: Be familiar with the home. Learn all the exits. Find out where the home's meeting spot is outside. Discuss the escape plan with the children.

PUT AWAY MATCHES AND LIGHTERS

GIVE SPACE HEATERS SPACE

BE KITCHEN WISE: Cook only with permission. Never leave cooking unattended.

USE MICROWAVES SAFELY

  • Never place anything in a microwave oven unless you are absolutely sure it is safe.
  • Most metal objects are not safe to place in a microwave.
  • Keep children away from the microwave.
  • Cool food before serving children.

NEVER LEAVE CHILDREN ALONE IN CASE OF FIRE

  • Get out and stay out!
  • Crawl low under smoke.
  • Call 911 - from a neighbors house.
  • Don't go back inside. IF YOUR CLOTHES CATCH FIRE - STOP! DROP! ROLL!
  • Babysitters may have to help young children do this.

KEEP THIS INFORMATION HANDY WHILE BABYSITTING:

  • Emergency Telephone Number 911
  • Doctor's Name/Telephone Number
  • Where Parents can be reached, cell number
  • Address where you are babysitting
  • Neighbors Name and Telephone Number

What types of smoke detectors are there?

There are two basic types of smoke detectors: ionization and photo-electronic. Both are effective at detecting fire, yet each has a unique detecting system. Each type of detector comes as AC- operated smoke detectors or battery- powered smoke detectors. Some AC detectors come with a battery back-up system.

When one sprinkler goes off, won't they all go off?

Only in the make-believe world of movies! In real life, each sprinkler is independent and has to be subjected to direct heat to go off.

Where should I install my smoke detectors?

Install a minimum of two detectors even in single level homes. Install a smoke detector in each bedroom as well as the main corridor outside of the bedroom area. Install a smoke detector above stairwells.

Will smoke set off the sprinkler system?

Absolutely not; it takes actual heat, usually 165 degrees Fahrenheit, to set off a sprinkler.

 

If you have further questions about your Kalispell Fire Department, please don’t hesitate to contact us.  It is our privilege to serve you!

Photos courtesy of Digital Broadway LLC