Raleigh Fire Department responds to a call. A ladder truck is sitting outside of an apartment building.

Raleigh Fire sends four engines, two ladders, the heavy rescue, two battalion chiefs, and the incident safety officer to all reported structure fires.

What Happens After Someone Reports a Fire?

Raleigh Fire in Action

Have you ever wondered what happens when a structure fire is reported to the Raleigh Fire Department?

While each call is unique, the standard response to a structure fire call in the City of Raleigh involves the following steps:


The emergency communication center receives a call reporting a structure fire. The dispatcher collects essential information about the location, type of structure, and any known hazards.

Alerting Fire Stations

The dispatcher then alerts the nearest fire stations to respond to the incident. 

En Route

Firefighters quickly respond to the scene, activating lights and sirens as needed to navigate through traffic safely. They use the most efficient route based on real-time traffic conditions. Raleigh Fire’s first engine arrives on scene in four minutes or less.

Standard Response

Raleigh Fire sends four engines, two ladders, the heavy rescue, two Battalion Chiefs, and the Incident Safety Officer to all reported structure fires. If the fire is confirmed to be a “working” fire, the Division Chief, another Battalion Chief, an air unit, and fire investigators are added to the call. Depending on the nature of the incident, Raleigh Fire’s Public Information Officer and department chaplain will also be added to assist on scene, as needed.


Upon arrival, the Incident Commander (usually the first officer to arrive) conducts a thorough assessment. They evaluate the situation, identify immediate threats to life or property, and determine the best strategy for firefighting operations. If there is not a working fire, units that are not needed are canceled and can return to the station.   

Fire engine 21 parked outside a home with a firefighter detaching the hose from the truck

Fire Suppression and Search & Rescue

If the Incident Commander upgrades the call to a working fire, firefighters begin deploying hose lines, conducting search and rescue operations, ventilating the structure, and establishing a water supply immediately. Firefighters work to extinguish the fire using various firefighting techniques, depending on factors such as fire size, building construction, and potential hazards. Simultaneously, firefighters conduct a thorough search of the structure to locate any occupants or pets who may be trapped or in need of assistance. Rescued individuals are quickly moved to safety and provided with medical attention by EMS units, if required.


Proper ventilation is crucial to remove smoke, heat, and toxic gases from the structure, improving visibility for firefighters and increasing the effectiveness of fire suppression efforts.


Once the fire is extinguished, firefighters perform overhaul operations to ensure hotspots are extinguished and prevent re-ignition. 

Investigation and Wrap-Up

After the fire is fully extinguished and the scene is secure, fire investigators may conduct an investigation to determine the fire's origin and cause. Once all objectives are accomplished, resources are released from the scene and equipment is returned to service.

Dress in protective gear, Raleigh Firefighters gather in a neighborhood street to listen to leaders
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