Fire Police

Fire Police

Fire Police are Volunteer Fire Brigade/Company members who may also have sworn police powers. They receive special police training and are responsible for traffic control, crowd control, fire and incident scene security, apparatus security, and station security during calls for service.

They also assist regular police when needed, performing road closures, traffic control, crowd control at public events, missing persons searches, parade details, salvage, security, and other tasks as requested. The primary role of the Fire Police is to provide support for operational requirements at moderate to major incidents.


Fire Police are a Fire Brigade resource and answer to the Officer In Charge (OIC) of the Fire Brigade in attendance. Where no other Fire Brigade resources are present, they will usually be assisting Police and therefore be taking direction from the Police OIC. They may also act autonomously depending on local regulations.

Whilst the exact role of Fire Police may vary between brigades and between countries, the general themes are the same:

Traffic Control at Emergency Scenes

Managing the flow of vehicles around or through the immediate vicinity of an emergency. This may entail road closures, diversions, full 'points' control of intersections or '1-way-shunts' where the road is reduced to one lane and the direction is alternated in a controlled fashion.

Scene Safety

Fire Police are utilised to assist in ensuring that the scene of an incident is safe for those working in the vicinity; this includes both Firefighters and other Emergency Service workers, not to mention members of the public.

Crowd Control and Liaison

Residents, owners, occupants, relatives, transients, spectators, and the media are among those who may approach the scene of an incident. Fire Police are in a position to prevent them from coming into harm, and from hampering the work of emergency services personnel at the scene. They are often the first point of contact and as such must have good public relations skills.

Scene Security

Fire Police may be asked to provide a scene guard in order to prevent looting or theft. Also, they may be called upon to monitor unattended Fire Brigade equipment.

Police Assistance

Fire Police are often called upon by Police and other Law Enforcement agencies to provide manpower. Many of the above tasks also fall within the area of responsibility of the Police, but Fire Police when on the scene may allow the Police to concentrate on other more specific areas of expertise.


Fire Police may provide a Logistics resource - vehicle movements, communications or similar. This would particularly be the case at a scene controlled by the Fire Brigade but they may be called upon by other services.

Fire Police around the world

Fire Police exist in fourteen states of the United States including New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, New York, Connecticut, Virginia, Maine and Pennsylvania and some other countries, such as New Zealand. They must take an oath of office and be sworn in by a Municipal Clerk, magistrate, judge or justice of the peace - depending upon jurisdiction. At fire service incidents, Fire Police assume either the full or necessary powers of a police constable.

Some texts list Burlington County, New Jersey as forming one of the first Fire Police units. Laws in New Jersey State code as early as the 1850s supported fire police in their duties.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, Fire Police exist by virtue of Section 33 of the Fire Service Act 1975 [ [ NZ Legislation Online. Browse through 'Statutes' and look for Fire Service Act under 'F'.] ] . The Fire Service Act allows for the formation of Volunteer Fire Police Units (based on the approval of the District Chief of Police) and bestows upon them the legal powers of a police constable. Several Fire Police Units exist around New Zealand, some attached to Volunteer Fire Brigades, and others acting as individual units and/or brigades in their own right. [cite web
title=New Zealand Fire Service STAR Magazine, Issue 88 Mar/Apr 04 (Page 24)|
] [cite web
title=New Zealand Fire and Rescue Magazine, Issue 22 Aug/Sep 06 (Page 8)|
] [cite web
title=New Zealand Fire and Rescue Magazine, Issue 26 Mar/Apr 07 (Page 16)|

Fire Police in New Zealand engage in all of the above listed roles [cite web
title=Hutt Valley Fire Police Website; Role of Fire Police article|
] [cite web
title=Role of Fire Police and Operational Support; Extract from NZFS Official documentation|
] . In areas where Fire Police do not exist, 'Operational Support' members of the Fire Service carry out the same tasks (using the powers of a Firefighter gained through Section 28 of the Fire Service Act). Firefighters (including Operational Support members) gain all the powers required to conduct their operations through Section 28; Fire Police wield both these and the powers of a constable gained through Section 33. Operationally, Fire Police Units and Operational Support Units are generally considered to be equivalent, and are well valued by both the operational Firefighters and the New Zealand Police.

Future Prospects

The Fire Service Act 1975 is currently under review [cite web
title=NZ Department of Internal Affairs, Review of Fire Legislation|
] , and is due to be replaced with newer, more modern legislation in the coming years. If Fire Police are not retained in law, existing Fire Police Units will become Operational Support Units, retaining their role, but having a change in legal powers as specified by the change in law. Their existing powers of a constable may be considered unnecessary when their key roles (as listed above) are considered, so this may not cause any significant change in Fire Police Operations - just in their name.

Pennsylvania (USA)

Fire Police in Pennsylvania are Volunteer Fire Company members, sworn in by the Mayor or Borough Council President, Township supervisor or the local District Justice of the Peace. They come under direct control of the Local Police or State Police (if no local dept is available). The first fire police officers in the state of Pennsylvania were appointed in Meadville, Crawford County in 1896. These first fire police officers had no authority other than that which could be provided by their fire company and the municipality in which they served. No legal recognition or authority was granted to Special Fire Police officers in the Commonwealth of Pa until 1941.

The Commonwealth of PA in June 1941 passed a law (Title 35) enabling Special Fire Police Officers to have the necessary police power to provide protection. Fire Police were legally created to act in emergency situations and then only when their fire department was involved

Title 35 was amended in 1949, 1959 and again in 1980. (Act 74, 388, 209, 122) These changes widened the scope of authority of the fire police. In 1949 the law was amended (Act 388) to give fire police power to act without fire company involvement, providing a request to do so was made by the municipality. In 1959 (Act 209) the law was again amended to allow fire police to use their police powers in any (non-emergency) public function conducted by or under the auspices of any volunteer fire company. Such services were contingent upon a request by the municipality. The provision for municipal request for such services, when the fire company was involved, was later removed from the law.

The provision to allow fire police to use their police power in non-emergency events was later amended to authorize these officers to provide police services for organizations other than a volunteer fire company. For fire police to perform this type of duty a request was and is, required. In 1980 (Act 122 - current law), the Fire Police Act was amended to, among other things, make it clear that the act does not grant the right or power to use firearms or other weapons in the course of an officer's duty.

While most people think that Fire Police are just firefighters, these amendments widened the scope of authority of Fire Police in PA, to have limited police powers. Although they have no authority to make arrests, they do have the right to detain someone, within reason. They have earned the right to wear their 'badge of authority'.

Fire Police will control the flow of traffic to ensure emergency vehicles have a quick, safe entrance and egress to the incident. They may halt traffic, block a road or detour you in another direction, because of the situation and the dangers involved. They are taking orders from the police authority in charge. All Fire Police Officers are sworn officers of the law and when on duty shall display a badge of authority and shall be subject to control of the chief of police of the city, borough, town or township in which they are serving, or if none, of a member of the Pennsylvania State Police. They are highly skilled and trained in their vocation and have their oath on file with their local municipalities. Disobeying a Fire Police Officer is the same as disobeying a Police Officer, Sheriff's Deputy, State Constable or State Trooper and assaulting one is a felony.

Connecticut (USA)

Unlike many Fire Police, those in Connecticut do not necessarily have police powers, and are not sworn agents of a body of government. Instead, authority comes directly from the Fire Chief of the department in which they are a member. This authority relates only to fire drills and emergencies within the fire district and under mutual aid situations. In some towns, Fire Police may be given Constable status by the Mayor or First Selectman, however this is generally the exception rather than the rule as it appears in other areas of the US and world.

The state requires that Fire Police Officers are officially appointed by the Fire Chief and utilizes specific equipment, including a badge of office, specific head gear and reflective equipment. In addition to traffic cones, many areas utilize the TurboFlare 360º, which provide additional visibility (especially at night) without the danger of pyro-flares. They have also been used to mark a driveway for additional responders at night in rural areas, or to mark a landing zone for LifeStar or other helicopters used for emergency medical transport.

All Connecticut Fire Police are certified by the Connecticut Fire Police Association under the Connecticut Fire Academy standards, and many fire departments have specialized or modified apparatus for traffic control. For instance, the Hebron Volunteer Fire Company (Hebron, CT) has Service 310, a modified retired ambulance. Colchester Hayward Volunteer Fire Company has Service 328, a utility pick-up truck modified specifically for traffic control, holding many cones and signs.

ee also

*Fire marshal
*Auxiliary police
*Special police

External links

* [ New Zealand Fire Police, New Zealand]
* [ Hutt Valley Fire Police Unit, Wellington, New Zealand.]
* [ Auckland Volunteer Fire Police Unit, Auckland, New Zealand.]
* [ Cumberland County Fire Police Association, PA, USA]
* [ Fire Police Association of Berks County, PA, USA]
* [ Hepburn Township Fire Police, Lycoming County, PA, USA]
* [ Somerset & Cambria County Fire Police Association, PA, USA]
* [ PA Fire Police answers to your questions USA]
* [ Delaware State Fire Police Association, Dover, DE, USA]
* [ Cos Cob Fire Police Patrol, Greenwich, CT, USA]
* [ CT Fire Police Association]
* [ Hagerstown, MD, USA Fire Police]
* [ Scarborough, ME, USA Fire Police]
* [ Cherry Hill Fire Police-ESU, Cherry Hill, NJ, USA]
* [ Camden County Fire Police Association, Camden County, NJ, USA]
* [ Upper Pottsgrove Fire Police, Montgomery County, PA, USA]
* [ Pennsylvania Fire Police Association, PA, USA]
* [ The Fire Police Activist Site, PA, USA]


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