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Honolulu Fire Department
You are here: Public Safety > HFD Main

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The City of Honolulu lays claim to having the only fire department in the world which has had kings as active members. The department was founded on 27 December 1850 by King Kamehameha III and Alexander Cartwright. The department covers the entire island of Oahu and adjacent coastlines with a force of over 1,000 strong. Firefighters are EMT-certified and often co-respond with Emergency Medical Services to a wide variety of medical emergencies. Co-response agreements are also in place for HFD to respond to alarms with the Federal Fire Department.

HFD Fleet
The island of Oahu is divided into five battalions and include the following apparatus: 43 engines, 14 ladders, two rescue squads, two hazardous materials companies, one fireboat company, and one helicopter tender.

Battalion Divisions

Headquarters Area of Responsibility
Central Metropolitan Honolulu
Waikiki East Honolulu
Kaneohe Windward Oahu
Kapolei Leeward Oahu
Mililani Mauka Airport, Central Oahu, North Shore

Fire Stations

Location Apparatus
Central Engine 1, Battalion 1
Pawaa Engine 2, Ladder 2, Rescue 1
Makiki Engine 3
Kuakini Engine 4, Ladder 4
Kaimuki Engine 5, Ladder 5
Kalihi Engine 6
Waikiki Engine 7, Ladder 7, Battalion 2
Mokulele Engine 8
Kakaako Engine 9, Tower 9
Aiea Engine 10
Sunset Beach Engine 11
Waipahu Engine 12, Quint 12, Tanker 12
Kahuku Engine 13
Haleiwa Engine 14, Boat 14
Hauula Engine 15
Wahiawa Engine 16, Tanker 16
Kaneohe Engine 17, Ladder 17, Boat 17, Battalion 3
Kailua Engine 18, Ladder 18, Water Craft 18
Aikahi Engine 19
Pearl City Engine 20
Kaaawa Engine 21
Manoa Engine 22
Wailupe Engine 23
Ewa Beach Engine 24
Nuuanu Engine 25
Waianae Engine 26, Quint 26, Tanker 26
Waimanalo Engine 27, Boat 27
Nanakuli Engine 28, Tanker 28
McCully Engine 29, Ladder 29
Moanalua Engine 30, Ladder 30
Kalihi Kai Engine 31, Quint 31, Rescue 2
Kalihi Uka Engine 32, Hazmat 1
Palolo Engine 33, Ladder 33
Hawaii Kai Engine 34, Quint 34, Boat 34
Makakilo Engine 35
Mililani-Waipio Engine 36
Kahaluu Engine 37
Waiau Engine 38, Quint 38
Olomana Engine 39
Kapolei Engine 40, Quint 40, Tower 40, Hazmat 2, Battalion 4
Mililani Mauka Engine 41, Quint 41, Battalion 5
Waikele Engine 42
East Kapolei Engine 43, Ladder 43
Airport Air 1, Air 2
Honolulu Harbor Pier 15 Fireboat "Mokuahi"

Radio Communications

Since June 1, 2005, the Honolulu Fire Department uses the City & County of Honolulu 800 MHz Ericsson EDACS radio system for all communications.

In my opinion, the radio system in use by the fire department today is very efficient compared to the old VHF radio system. Instead of companies competing for air time on the old Channel 1 (154.220), each battalion division has five talkgroups that is shared amongst all companies in that battalion: Tac 1, Tac 2, Tac 3, Tac 4, and Tac 5.

Tac-1 (digital) is used almost exclusively for routine alarms, Tac-2 (analog) is rarely used. Tac-3 (digital) are used mainly for multiple-alarm incidents (structure fires, technical rescues, any type of call with a battalion chief involved). Tac-4 (digital) is like Tac-3, but not used often as it is two multiple alarm incidents in the same battalion area are rare. Tac-5 (analog) is very rarely used.

With this setup, companies are assigned a tactical talkgroup based on the battalion they are assigned to. With 25 tactical talkgroups spread across five battalion divisions, this system gives enormous flexibility in terms of communications management. When companies are given talkgroups exclusive to their battalion division, there is more channels of communication available and this in itself eliminates the possibility of overload since voice frequencies are assigned only when the talkgroup is in use.

Radio Call Signs

Honolulu Fire Department callsigns are usually the apparatus type and number (i.e. Engine 31). However, during multiple alarm incidents, tactical communications use the "Incident Command System". In addition, two or three pack (portable) radios are assigned to each apparatus, usually called Pack A, Pack B, or Pack C. An example transmission would be something like, "Engine 31 Pack B, Engine 31 Pack A." In this case, Pack A is calling Pack B, in the form of "HEY YOU...This is ME CALLING". This can be further compounded when a battalion chief uses a tactical location, as in "Waikiki Command" and calls companies with the following: "Engine 7 from Waikiki Command."

Terminology / Radio Jargon

  • 1-Alarm Fire: Consists of 3 Engines, and one of the following: ladder, quint, rescue, or tower company, and a battalion chief.
  • 2-Alarm Fire: Called when smoke and flames are visible, or at the request of the on-scene battalion chief. Consists of two additional engines, and one of the following: ladder, quint, rescue, or tower company.
  • Available: Fire company has completed an assignment and is returning (usually to quarters)
  • At Scene, In Command: Fire company has arrived on scene and has initial command of an incident.
  • Elevator Command, Lobby Control: Tactical callsigns used during incidents involving high-rise fires.
  • Level-1 Manning: A condition in which 25% of all on-duty firefighters are on-assignment.
  • Level-2 Manning: A condition in which 50% of all on-duty firefighters are on-assignment.
  • Level-3 Manning: A condition in which 75% of all on-duty firefighters are on-assignment.
  • (Location) Command: Incident Commander (IC) in charge of a multiple-alarm incident. Any fire company can be an IC, but is transferred to a Battalion Chief or higher authority when they are on scene.
  • Patient Care Transfer: In medical incidents, the fire company transfers patient care when EMS arrives at scene.
  • Rehab: Rehabilitation Center. Used to rotate personnel at large-scale incidents
  • Relocation: Shifting of apparatus or personnel to areas where companies are committed to calls in order to maintain adequate fire protection coverage.
  • Special Call: Request for additional units to assist companies at scene of an incident. Special calls are not full-alarm responses.
  • Technical Rescue: Rescue alarms consist of an Engine, Rescue 1 or 2, Air 1 or 2, and Battalion Chief. Unless already committed to another alarm, stations with more than one company will have their Ladder, Quint, or Tower dispatched first.
  • Urgent Relocation: Shifting of apparatus or personnel to areas without fire protection coverage as quickly as possible. Used during large scale incidents (brush fires), and often requires the use of lights and siren.

Work Schedules

For firefighters, three separate watches alternate in unusual but effective nine-day cycles: one day on, one day off, another on, another off, then four off. Each shift is 24 hours long, which start and end at 8:00 each morning.

In the Fire Communication Center, a Battalion Chief is assisted by a Senior Clerk Typist work a normal 40-hour per week schedule. The rest of the bureau personnel are divided into four shifts and work a rotating 8/16 work schedule. Each shift consists of a Captain, a Firefighter III, and three Firefighter IIs. The bureau is staffed like any fire station, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Copyright 2000-2009
Webguy: David J. Cabatu, AH7E
Updated: 11.09.2008 at 9:25 a.m.