The most asked questions we receive from our citizens.

Why do you send a fire truck along with a medic unit to a medical emergency?

All fire engines carry medical equipment and all firefighters are EMT’s. The urgency of the medical call determines how many firefighters respond to the call.

Why do you send a fire truck when I want a medic unit?

A medic unit is dispatched for critical life threatening emergencies if 911 Dispatch determines this is a basic emergency they will send our BLS low acuity unit and or a fire engine. All firefighters are Emergency Medical Technicians.

Why do firefighters break out windows and cut holes in roof during a fire?

As a fire burns, it generally moves upward, then outward. Removing windows and cutting holes in the roof, or “ventilation” in firefighting terms, stops that damaging outward movement and enables them to fight more efficiently, resulting in less damage in the long run.

What is the difference between an ambulance and rescue unit?

All firefighters are trained in a multitude of disciplines and are all EMTs or Paramedics. We are an all hazard department and all of our personnel are highly skilled in many different areas of emergencies. Private ambulances are strictly trained to take patients to the hospital.

Why do you block traffic lanes at auto accidents -- more lanes than are necessary?

Safety of our patients and emergency personnel. Every year firefighters and police officers are killed along the road.

Why do firefighters get upset when you drive over fire hoses?

It is illegal to drive over any fire hose at the scene of an emergency. Once it is ran over the hose is out of service and must be tested.

How do you become a firefighter?

There is no single path to become a firefighter in Washington State, but there are some basic qualifications: you should be over 18 years of age, have earned a high school diploma or GED, and possess a valid driver’s license.

The WSFF JATC offers career fire fighters a disciplined career training and development program that integrates:

  • On-the-Job Training (OJT)
  • Professional Certifications: IFSAC, ProBoard
  • College-level Academic Studies

Fire Science degrees are offered at several educational institutions around the state, including:

Approved Washington Paramedic Education Programs:

Bachelor of Applied Science in Fire Services Leadership and Management (BAS-FSLM) at Pierce College

  • This leadership and management degree program is part of a guided career pathway designed to prepare students to become 21st century leaders in the fire service.
  • The FSLM program is primarily taught online in order to provide fire service professionals the skills and knowledge they need to advance into leadership positions.
  • Application for Fire Service Leadership Management, Bachelor of Applied Science Degree

Volunteering, particularly in rural communities, can be a great way to learn more about the fire service.

Many departments rely on centralized private training organizations to test candidates for jobs. The National Testing Network and Public Safety Testing provide testing and forward test scores and information to departments with open positions.

Why do we keep weeds and bushes away from fire hydrants?

We need fast incomparable access to the hydrant to save your house.

There is a fire hydrant leaking or broken, who can I report that to?

Your water department.

Do you have volunteers?

We do not have volunteers. Riverside Fire has volunteers.

How do you get a smoke detector from the Fire Department?

Call 253-538-6400

My smoke alarm is chirping/beeping, what should I do?

Replace all the batteries or contact the manufacturer. Smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years.

My smoke alarm goes off every time I burn bread in the toaster, so it must be working fine right

Newer smoke detectors can help, your detectors should be replaced every 10 years.

My neighbor has weeds, shrubs, boxes, etc. in their yard and it is a fire hazard, can someone come out?

Contact the code compliance office at

Pierce County (253) 798-4636

City of Puyallup 253-770- 3327

Should I have a carbon monoxide detector and does the fire department give them away?

Yes every home should have one on each floor. They are available at all home improvement stores. We do not carry them.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous, colorless, odorless and tasteless gas. Although it has no detectable odor, CO is often mixed with other gases that do have an odor. So, you can inhale carbon monoxide right along with gases that you can smell and not even know that CO is present.

What should I do if my CO detector is going off?

Exit the house and call 911.

What type of carbon monoxide detector should I buy and where?

Most all home improvement stores carry them and can answer your questions on what type is best for your home.

Do you fill fire extinguishers?

We do not do anything with fire extinguishers please call a local fire safety/alarm business

Where can I buy fire extinguishers?

Most all home improvement stores carry them and can answer your questions on what type is best for your home.

Why is it illegal to burn leaves and brush on my property?

For what you can and cannot burn, according to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. pscleanair.gov/

YES. Cooking fires and campfires using charcoal or seasoned firewood on private property for cooking, pleasure, or ceremonial purposes are permitted.
NO. Trash, cardboard, burn barrels, branches, leaves, grass clippings, and other natural vegetation that is not seasoned dry firewood.
Burn Complaint? Call the air quality complaint line at 1-800-552-3565. Follow the instructions to select your language, then dial ext. 6 and leave a message with the complaint information when prompted. pscleanair.gov/

Do I need a burn permit to have a fire?

We do not have or give out burn permits. As long as you are following the rules you can have a recreational fire.

Why do firefighters shop at the local grocery stores and who pays?

Firefighters work 24 hrs. shifts and will stop by the store to purchase their own food in their first in area. They are in service and in their response area.

How can I purchase a bicycle helmet?

Please call 253-538-6400

Would you allow me to ride-a-long on a fire engine or medic unit?

We do not offer ride alongs on our fire engines or medic units.

How do I obtain a copy of an incident report

Please call 253-538-6400

Where can I take household hazardous waste materials?

Ever wonder what can be thrown in the garbage and what should be taken elsewhere to be disposed of?  We get this question often and hope this information helps as to where to take those specialty items that are considered out of the ordinary.  We hope this information helps to show where to go and what to do with these household items you’re looking to recycle.

Household Hazardous Waste
When it comes to household hazardous materials and waste, two sites are available in Pierce County to drop off items for free:

Tacoma Transfer Center
3510 S. Mullen Street
Hours: Daily from 8 am – 6 pm

Hidden Valley Transfer Station
17925 Meridian E
Hours: Tuesday – Thursday
8 am – noon and 1-5 pm

To see a list of everything accepted at these facilities, please click here

Where can I take my glass for recycling?

Glass Recycle Center Locator

Can I take a tour of a fire station?

Please call 253-538-6400

Do you fill swimming pools on private property?

We do not.

When will your fire department be hiring?

Please check our website here 

Where do I dispose of old medication?

Please click here for more information.

Do you do car seat installation or inspection?

We do not but Marybridge has a car seat service, click here for their website.

Do you get cats out of trees?

Unfortunately, we do not. Here’s a site that does.

What is the law for BBQs on balconies?

The International Fire Code states the following:

308.1.4 Open-flame cooking devices. Charcoal burners and other open-flame cooking devices shall not be operated on combustible balconies or within 10 feet (3048 mm) of combustible construction.


One- and two-family dwellings.

  1. Where buildings, balconies and decks are protected by an automatic sprinkler system.
  2. LP-gas cooking devices having LP-gas container with a water capacity not greater than 21/2 pounds [nominal 1 pound (0.454 kg) LP-gas capacity].


The State of Washington, in its code adoption process, excluded this code section from the Fire Code.

Further, the state of Washington added language to IFC 6107.1 to allow, “The use and storage of listed propane fired barbeque grills on R-2 (apartments & condominiums) decks and balconies with an approved container not exceeding a water capacity of 20 pounds (9 kg) that maintain a minimum clearance of 18 inches on all sides, unless listed for lesser clearances.”

This shows intent by Washington State law makers not to prohibit the use of gas barbeque grills on apartment decks and balconies at distances of less than 10 feet from combustible construction.

Apartment Management:

Apartment policies and condominium association rules can be more restrictive (and can be disallowed as landlord policy per lease agreement) than the Fire Code. Check with them before placing a barbeque for use.

While 10 feet of separation from combustibles remains a strong guideline, it is recognized that some out-door cooking appliances are designed for safe use with as little as 3 feet of separation.

Bottom line

  1. Make sure you aren’t violating a lease agreement or rule.
  2. Do not let outdoor cooking cause heating of any combustible material.
  3. Never leave cooking unattended.
  4. Dispose of all used charcoal in a metal container with tight fitting lid because charcoal can smolder even when you think it is cold.
  5. Be a good neighbor! Don’t let your outdoor cooking become a nuisance to your neighbors. If the wind is blowing toward their residence or if there is no wind, please take that into consideration before barbecuing.


How can I obtain a copy of the or the report for my transport

Patient billing services for Central Pierce Fire & Rescue are provided by Systems Design EMS.

If you have questions about your bill, please contact

Systems Design EMS

PO Box 3510

Silverdale, WA 98383


(800) 585-5242




For a copy of your incident report complete the appropriate request form. To obtain the form, please go to https://www.centralpiercefire.org/help-center/patient-care-records-requests/