WFD FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why does a fire truck come when you call for an ambulance?
Because firefighters can and do get there first, and time is critical in a medical emergency. Every full-time Wilkesboro Firefighter is cross-trained in Emergency Medical Services. What does that mean to you, a citizen phoning 911? Simply read on...
In the early days, fire stations were strategically located so the crews could quickly get to burning buildings. Obviously, time is an important aspect of firefighting, because flames can rapidly spread through a building. The ability to quickly respond to a fire provides more time to rescue people inside, and save property by suppressing the blaze in the early stages. It soon became apparent that the firefighter's ability to "get there fast" could be used for other types of emergency response, such as heart attacks, strokes and trauma.
Four minutes is a critical time frame for someone who has experienced a heart attack, injury, or other illness that makes them stop breathing. The heart and brain have a better chance of full recovery they receive oxygen in four minutes or less. After that, a person can suffer brain damage or worse. Our firefighters, many of them educated to the level of emergency medical technician-basic, can use life saving techniques including defibrillation and medications to help prevent death or permanent injury. These life saving techniques are much more effective if they can get to a patient within the first four minutes.
When you dial 911 for a medical emergency, expect a Wilkesboro fire truck. The expertise that they bring is truly lifesaving.
Why does the Fire Department bring the fire engine just for a simple inspection?
First, these inspections are conducted by on-duty personnel that must be ready to respond to an emergency call from the field.
Second, an important part of the value of the public safety inspection is to familiarize your local firefighters with the buildings and business in Wilkesboro. While they check for hazards and consult with business owners on how best to eliminate or minimize the likelihood of a fire, they also familiarize themselves with access points and the layout of the facility. Why do firefighters break out windows and cut holes in roof during a fire? Firefighters ventilate smoke, superheated, poisonous, or explosive gases for safety and visibility. This allows firefighters to get inside the building to find and extinguish the fire, thereby reducing property damage. This also reduces the chance of a possible dangerous explosion.
Why do you block traffic lanes at auto accidents, sometimes more lanes than necessary?
We block traffic lanes for the safety of our personnel and our patients. Blocking extra lanes keep our personnel safe when they go back to our apparatus to get more equipment and help protect the victim we are trying to stabilize. Over 25 firefighters are killed or injured each year while working at incidents on streets and highways.
Why do I need to keep weeds and bushes away from fire hydrants on my property?
Weeds and bushes should be kept three feet from fire hydrants for visibility and accessibility.
How do I schedule a Fire Drill?
Training is provided by Wilkesboro Fire Department. We can assist you in organizing and conducting an orderly evacuation, and evaluating results with management of the facility. To schedule a Fire Drill contact Wilkesboro Fire Department at (336) 667-6228.
What if I smell Gas in my home?
You will need to get out of the house and then call 9-1-1 for the Fire Department from outside of the house or from a neighbor's house. The use of a phone could cause the gas to ignite if you called from inside the house.
Why do firefighters work 24-hour shifts?
Firefighters work 24-hour shifts, because it would take more firefighters to cover 8 hour shifts. Full-time Firefighters at Wilkesboro work a 53 hour work week and the 24 hour shift allows this. This type of schedule is the most cost-effective work schedule to provide fire protection and is the most common. Wilkesboro Full-time firefighters work 24-hour shifts while our part-time work either 4 hour or 10 hour shifts.
Why do we see fire department crews at the store?
Because the personnel work a 24-hour shift, they must eat their lunch and dinner at the station. At times firefighters all eat the same meal, as a group. The crews pay for their food out of their own pockets. So, after the equipment is checked and the housework completed, one of the fire trucks will then make a quick trip to the grocery store to purchase the food for the shift. At times you may see crews eating at local restaurants. All crews remain in service to respond to calls during this time.
What other responsibilities do firefighters have other than fighting fires?
Emergency calls represent only part of the work of a typical fire department. The number of residential and commercial fires has steadily decreased over the years due to a variety of factors including improvements in construction, a greater public awareness of the risk factors leading to fires and a significant reduction in smoking nationwide. Fires, however, are only some of the emergencies to which the Fire Department responds. Nearly eighty percent of the Fire Department's emergency responses are, in fact, calls for medical aid, including illness/accidents at home and work, and injuries resulting from vehicle crashes. Other calls for emergency response involve hazardous materials releases, technical rescues, response to fire alarms and other calls for public assistance. Firefighters also spend much of their time maintaining equipment, conducting semi-annual fire hydrant testing, developing pre-incident response plans, conducting fire inspections to all businesses and multi-family occupancies in the Town of Wilkesboro, training for all types of emergency responses, teaching life safety programs to citizens and school age kids, and filling out reports and paperwork associated with these activities.
My smoke detector is chirping, what does that mean?
Most modern smoke detectors will chirp to alert you the batteries are low, you should replace the batteries and test your smoke detector. Smoke detectors can be purchased at any hardware or large commercial department store.
How often should I change the batteries in my smoke detectors?
We recommend you change the batteries in your smoke detectors every 6 months, an easy way to remember is to change batteries when you reset your clock for daylight savings time.
Does the Fire Department fill fire extinguishers?
No, Wilkesboro Fire Department is not equipped to fill fire extinguishers at this time. However, you can find local fire extinguisher businesses in the yellow pages to refill them.
Can I burn leaves in my yard? Can I have recreational fire in my backyard?
See burning permit information.
I'm interested in becoming a Firefighter, where do I start? Can I ride along with the Fire Department?
Yes, citizens can request to ride along on a fire engine. For more information contact the Fire Chief at 667-6228 or email
How much does a Fire Truck cost responding to a fire?
Fire Engines and Ladder Trucks are supported by taxpayer revenues and there is no charge for these pieces of equipment for residents.
How do I sign up for a First Aid or CPR class?
Wilkesboro Fire Department does not currently offer First Aid or CPR Classes to the public. You can, however, contact Wilkes Community College to gain these lifesaving skills.
Why do firefighters turn on fire hydrants and flow water from them when there is no fire?
The Wilkesboro Fire Department's semi-annual fire hydrant testing takes place from March 1 to November 15. During this time, all town hydrants are tested to ensure they are operable and able to produce the required water pressure when needed. Pressure readings are taken during testing to determine the amount of water available from the hydrant. Also, testing can sometimes cause a temporary discoloration of water and loss of pressure in nearby homes. The discoloration is not harmful in any way and can be cleared up by running the water for a few minutes. Because testing must be done during normal operating hours, it will be impossible to know in advance where or when the testing will take place in any specific area. We do apologize for any inconvenience however, testing is necessary.
If you see a hydrant that is out of service or seems to be experiencing problems, please contact the Town of Wilkesboro Town Hall at 336-838-3951 between 8 AM to 5 PM and Wilkesboro Police Department Communications Center at 336-667-7277 after hours. The Fire Department tests hydrants, but does not perform maintenance on them.
Hydrant testing not only ensures the protection of Wilkesboro's residents, it also is an evaluation indicator used by the Insurance Services Office (ISO), which rates cities according to the fire protection they offer. The ISO rating resulted in the elevation of the Wilkesboro Fire Department to a Class 5 protection rating in 2006.
How do I submit a question?
Email questions to the Fire Chief at his email