Frequently Asked Questions

A member of my family is disabled. What does he/she do during a fire?

Assure that you have a well-defined escape plan. Make sure that people who are confined to a wheelchair have immediate access to their wheelchair when an emergency occurs.

Where can I take a first aid class?

The American Red Cross offers classes in first aid. For information, call (805) 339-2234.

What should I do during an earthquake?

If you are indoors, stay there. Get under a desk or table, or crouch down along an inside wall or hallway. If you are outdoors, get into an open area away from trees, buildings, walls and power lines. If you are driving, pull your car to the side of the road and stop. Avoid overpasses or power lines. Remain inside until shaking is over. If you are in a high-rise building, stay away from windows and outside walls.  Get under a table.  Do not use elevators.

How do I go about drawing up an escape plan for my home or business?

The four basic steps to draw up an escape plan for your home includes: draw a floor-plan of your home; agree on a meeting place; practice your escape plan; and make your exit drill realistic.

How do I schedule a station tour?

Tours of the fire station are available and can be scheduled by calling our Fire Administration Office at (805) 339-4300. 

Please be able to provide the number of persons in your group, their approximate ages and any special purpose or needs associated with your visit. 

Please take note that visits may be ended suddenly in the event fire personnel must respond to an emergency!

Where are fire extinguishers placed in a commercial building?

The general rule for commercial buildings, with no special hazard classification, is an extinguisher with a 2A:10BC rating placed within 75 feet travel distance to another area.  Fire extinguishers should be placed between the hazard and the exit.  For smaller businesses, the best placement is adjacent to the exit door.

Do I need to put a smoke detector in every room? How many do I need?

Smoke Detectors should be placed outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. On floors without bedrooms, detectors should be installed in or near living areas such as dens, living rooms, or family rooms.

How do I make sure my smoke detector works?

Make sure you change the battery in your smoke detector once a year.  In the meantime, press the button on your smoke detector to make sure it works at least once a month.  If at any time your smoke detector begins to “chirp” consistently this is a signal that your battery needs to be changed.


Should I have a fire extinguisher in my home?

Fire extinguishers are not required in a residence, but are a good idea.  If you have an extinguisher, it should be placed where it is easily accessible, on the wall. There is no mandate for servicing fire extinguishers in a single family home.

What type of fire extinguisher should I purchase for my home and how will I know how to use it properly?

There are two types of fire extinguishers available on the market today.  They are either rechargeable or disposable, and come in portable sizes. Portable extinguishers (rechargeable or disposable) for home use are not designed to fight large or spreading fires.  Even against small fires, they are useful only under certain conditions.

  • The operator must know how to use the extinguisher.  There is no time to read directions during an emergency.
  • The extinguisher must be within easy reach, in working order and fully charged. The operator must have a clear escape route that will not be blocked by fire.
  • The extinguisher must match the type of fire being fought.  Extinguishers containing water are unsuitable for use on grease or electrical fires.
  • The extinguisher must be large enough to put out the fire.  Many portable extinguishers discharge completely in a few as eight to ten second.

Choosing your extinguisher:
Select only fire extinguishers that have been tested by an independent laboratory (e.g. Underwriters Laboratories) and labeled for the type and size of fire they can extinguish. Use these labels as a guide to purchase the type of extinguisher that suits your needs.  Multipurpose fire extinguishers, labeled ABC, may be used on all three classes of fire.  If you use the wrong type of extinguisher, you can endanger yourself and make the fire worse.

Classes of Fires:
Class A: Ordinary combustibles such as wood, cloth and paper.
Class B: Flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil and oil-based paints.
Class C: Energized electrical equipment which includes wiring, fuse boxes, circuit breakers, machinery and appliances.

Extinguisher Sizes:
Portable fire extinguishers are also rated for the size of fire they can handle.  This rating will appear on the label (e.g. 2A:10B:C.)  The larger the numbers, the larger the fire that the extinguisher can put out, but higher-rated models are often heavier.  Make sure you can hold and operate the extinguisher before you purchase it.

Installation and Maintenance:
Fire extinguishers should be installed in plain view, above the reach of children, near an escape route and away from stoves and heating appliances.

Fire extinguishers require routine maintenance.  Read your operator's manual to learn how to inspect and maintain the extinguisher.

Rechargeable extinguishers must be serviced after every use, while disposable extinguishers can be used only once and must be replaced after use.

Remember the PASS-word:

Pull the pin: This unlocks the lever and allows you to discharge the extinguisher.

Aim low: Point the extinguisher nozzle (or hose) at the base of the fire.

Squeeze the lever above the handle: This discharges the extinguishing agent.  Releasing the lever will stop the discharge.

Sweep from side to side: Moving carefully toward the fire, keep the extinguisher aimed at the base of the fire and sweep side to side until the flames are extinguished.  Watch the fire area.  If the fire reignites, repeat the process.

Even if you think you've extinguished the fire, always be sure to call the fire department to inspect the fire site.

How can I get my business's fire extinguisher serviced?

Check the yellow pages for a fire extinguisher maintenance company to make the necessary arrangements and establish a schedule.

What can I do to protect my home from wildland fires?

To protect your home from wildfires you must create a safety zone or firebreak by reducing the amount of dead or dying fuel (vegetation) around your home. This does not necessarily mean all vegetation should be removed. In fact, having fire-resistant plants and trees around your home that are properly trimmed and well watered can serve as a firebreak. For a list of things to do to protect your home from wildfires, call the Fire Prevention Division at (805) 658-4717.

What do firefighters do when they are not responding to fires or emergency calls?

Training takes up a good deal of their time when they are not on call. Firefighters are required to have at least 20 hours of emergency-related training each month. Firefighters also participate in fire safety inspections at businesses, schools and senior care facilities and drive the community to become familiar with the area to reduce response time during incidents. Firefighters must also check and maintain their equipment along with cleaning and maintaining their stations.

When responding to a call in the "middle of the night" do the firefighters have to use the sirens even though traffic is minimal?

Yes, the state vehicle code requires that while responding Code Three, an emergency response vehicle much have all emergency lights on and the siren sounding.  A Code Three response is initiated when life, property or the environment is in immediate danger.  Some examples are chest pain, difficulty breathing, fire, hazardous materials spill, and auto accidents.

When there is only a small fire, why do so many fire engines respond?

The standard response to a residential structure fire includes 3 engine companies, 1 truck company, and 1 Battalion Chief. If these units are not needed, they are released upon arrival. The main goal of the Ventura City Fire Department is to protect lives and property and this level of response is needed to accomplish this goal.

When I call 911 for a medical emergency, why does an engine arrive in addition to an ambulance?

The fire department serves as the first responders for all medical emergencies. Our six fire stations are strategically located throughout Ventura so our response times have a positive effect on medical emergencies. In addition to our paramedics, the rest of our fire personnel are certified Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT). We have a minimum of one paramedic assigned to each of our six engine companies and truck. It is also important to remember that with any medical emergency extra hands of trained personnel are necessary to assist with the care and moving of a patient onto a gurney.

What information should I have when reporting a 9-1-1 emergency?

When reporting a 911 emergency, be prepared to provide the exact location of the emergency, what is involved (auto, home, vegetation, etc.), number of persons involved, your location, and the phone number you are calling from so that you can be re-contacted if you become disconnected.  If possible, remain at the scene and provide emergency responders with your eyewitness account of what occurred or what occurred at the time of your arrival at the scene.

Why do I have to dial 911? Can't I call the fire station directly and save time?

The 911 emergency system is designed to save valuable seconds. When you dial 9-1-1, the system routes the police or fire unit that is closest to your home. Fire stations are not properly equipped to take emergency calls and calling the station directly actually wastes response time.

With the recent brush fire, how can I protect my home?

Homeowners should prepare to do a thorough property inspection.  Look for sources of fire ignition and get rid of them.  For example: dried clippings from trees and/or bushes; old fire wood or lumber; dry grass or weeds; old newspaper and magazines; tree branches that extend from or onto your property; rags that have chemicals or gas or oils on them and overloaded electrical outlets should also be eliminated. Careful consideration should be taken when disposing these items.

Consider purchasing fire extinguishers rated at 2A/10BC and position them in areas within and outside of the house.

Also, during this inspection, make sure the batteries have been changed in all smoke detectors located within the home.

Why does a fire truck show up when an ambulance is requested?

Every fire engine has at least one Emergency Medical Technician Paramedic (EMT-P) on board.  Each engine has advanced medical supplies, like oxygen and a defibrillator.  Because time is precious, we will send the closest ALS engine to begin care.  When the ambulance is committed to another emergency, the next closest ALS resource will be sent.  The fire department paramedic and transporting agency will work together as a team to provide patient care.

When should I evacuate if there is a hillside fire?

When a public safety agency requests that you evacuate for any emergency, follow their directions. Evacuations are typically measure of last resort and become necessary due to current or anticipated fire behavior. If possible, we will attempt to notify you in plenty of time to prepare. However, the time to evacuate your home is when you feel that you are in danger. Residents that flee evacuated areas after the evacuation, clog streets and slow emergency vehicles’ response, decreasing public and personal safety.


Why does the Ventura Fire Department perform firefighting duties in other areas?

The Ventura City Fire Department cooperates with other local and state firefighting agencies to knock out large fires when they occur. For example, during our 2005 School Canyon fire, Ventura City firefighters were joined by hundreds of others from agencies across California at no cost to the city.

The system, called “mass mutual aid,” operates under a simple concept: Help your neighbors during their time of need and they will be prepared to help you in return. Mutual aid is like an insurance policy that means communities do not have to pay daily for huge reserves of firefighting resources, but those resources can be called upon during a crisis. Our firefighters are never sent to mutual aid if we need them in Ventura. But we also know that we have a long-term responsibility to support the system in case we need help further down the road.