Administration and support

The Fire Chief is the highest ranking administrative officer in the Iowa City Fire Department. As such, the Fire Chief is the administrator of all activities the Iowa City Fire Department carries out. In addition, the Fire Chief conducts all responsibilities set out by Federal or State laws, City ordinance, and the requirements of the City Manager, Mayor, and the City Council.

The Deputy Fire Chief provides direct administrative and/or emergency operations oversight and serves on the senior management team.  The Deputy Fire Chief plans, organizes, and directs the staffing and training of administrative services, accreditation, homeland security, special assignments, and related emergency response activities.  The Deputy Fire Chief assumes the duties of the Fire Chief in the event of absence and/or vacancy.

The Battalion Chief assigned to Administration and Support shall be responsible for buildings, grounds, calendar administration, the Health & Safety Committee, the weather alert sirens, physicals and immunizations, and other duties as assigned.

Emergency operations

The Emergency Operations Division exists to provide high quality emergency services to the citizens and our visitors. We look to our mission statement, supported by goals and objectives, to guide us in the delivery of those services. The current menu of emergency services includes four general categories: fire suppression, emergency medical services, hazardous materials response, and technical rescue. The entire range of technical rescue includes auto and machinery extrications, confined space rescue, trench and building collapse, high-angle rope rescue, and water and ice rescue. Emergency operations also include many non-emergency services, such as carbon monoxide investigations, smoke and odor investigations, and miscellaneous requests for public assistance.

The goals and objectives set the benchmarks for the department to deliver emergency services to the public as efficiently and effectively as possible, utilizing the resources available to us. All Fire Department emergency responses share three common goals:

  • To process all emergency calls, in the dispatch center, within 60 seconds at least 90% of the time.
  • To "roll out the door" within 60 seconds after receiving the alarm from the dispatch center at least 90% of the time.
  • To arrive at the scene of the emergency within 6 minutes at least 90% of the time.

Additional goals are set for each specific category of emergency. Each year those goals and objectives are reviewed and updated to try to balance the public need with the resources provided.

Fire suppression

Fighting fire has always been, and continues to be, a high-profile activity. While the actual number of fires continues to decline, firefighting activities typically require more resources (personnel, equipment, etc.) than any other type of emergency. Obviously, fires also have a greater potential to harm people and property than other emergencies. Additional fire suppression goals include:

  • Arrival of the first firefighting unit capable of initial fire attack or initiating patient care within 6 minutes 90% of the time.
  • Arrival of sufficient additional firefighting units which would allow interior firefighting operations within 10 minutes 90% of the time.

The department continues efforts to improve firefighting capabilities. According to time studies, at least two areas on the fringes of the city are outside the six-minute response time goal.  An additional fire station, Station 4, on the northeast side of the city, is still on the horizon.

The department also began utilizing Class A firefighting foam. Class A foam, when mixed with water, allows interior fire streams to be used more effectively and efficiently, cutting extinguishment time, resulting in a lower dollar loss for the property owner. All future fire engines will be purchased with that capability as well.

Emergency Medical Services

The most frequent emergency call continues to be for emergency medical services (EMS). All firefighters are trained and certified as Emergency Medical Technicians - Basic (EMT-B). Dr. Charles Huss, Mercy Hospital, provides oversight of service delivery as the department's medical director. Because fire stations are situated throughout the city, firefighters can usually arrive at the scene of a medical emergency first and provide basic life support until arrival of advanced life support provided by the Johnson County Ambulance Service.

A significant department goal for providing emergency medical service is:

  • To achieve an arrival time of the first fire unit capable of providing basic life support and automatic external defibrillation within 6 minutes 90% of the time.

All fire apparatus carry automatic external defibrillation (AEDs) for restoring heart rhythms and personnel are recertified in their use quarterly. Shift EMS coordinators conduct monthly continuing education training.

Hazardous materials response

Hazardous materials response continues to be an important part of ICFD service delivery, providing two levels of service to the public. Personnel are certified to the OSHA Operations level, which allows them to respond to minor spills, i.e. gasoline, antifreeze, etc. Fifteen personnel, including all nine assigned to Station 2 (301 Emerald Street), are certified to the OSHA Technician level, which allows them to intervene in any kind of chemical emergency.

The Johnson County Hazardous Materials Response Team (JCHMRT) vehicle, Hazmat 1, is housed at Station 2. Iowa City Fire Department personnel makeup about half of the JCMHRT.

Technical rescue

Technical rescue includes those incidents where a successful operation requires the rescuer(s) to employ special knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques. In comparison to firefighting, which generally requires large numbers of personnel, technical rescue requires fewer personnel, but a great deal of specialized equipment and intensive training. In addition to the shared goals of call processing, turnout time, etc., technical rescue has significant additional goals:

  • To achieve arrival time of the first rescue unit for size-up of the rescue within 6 minutes at least 90% of the time.
  • To assemble additional rescue personnel capable of initiating a rescue within 10 minutes at least 90% of the time.
  • Safely carry out rescue/extrication in sufficient time to deliver the patient to a definitive care facility within one hour.

Technical rescue training is especially time intensive. Firefighters receive a minimum of 32 hours of specialized training in rope rescue techniques, sometimes referred to as high-angle rescue.

The department continues to improve technical rescue services. For the first time, in 2001, the department moved to prepare for a trench collapse response.

Vehicle extrication training continues with emphasis on large vehicle (buses, semi-tractors, etc.) extrication techniques.

Department personnel complete eight hours of specialized ice rescue training. Implementation of an ice rescue capability, in accordance with NFPA standards, was begun with the necessary equipment purchases and initial training. Training was completed using actual "falling through the ice" rescue scenarios.

Fire department personnel, wearing special ice rescue suits and using proper rescue techniques utilizing ropes, slings, and poles, can now safely and effectively rescue victims who have fallen through the ice and be incapable of self-rescue.

Fire prevention

The Battalion Chief assigned as Fire Marshal is in charge of the Fire Prevention Bureau. The Fire Marshal is directly responsible for organizing all fire prevention activities, including fire/arson investigations, code enforcement inspections, public education, and the purchase and maintenance of hardware and software for computers.

  • Fireworks - Contact Fire Marshal, (319) 356-5257
  • Temporary Tent Permit for Businesses - Contact Fire Marshal, (319) 356-5257


The assigned Battalion Chief and the Training Officer plan, develop and coordinate in-house training activities with the assistance of the Training Committee.

This division is directly responsible for training in the areas of emergency medical services, rescue, fire suppression, and hazardous materials; purchasing equipment, stationwear, and protective clothing; repair and maintenance of apparatus, tools, and equipment.