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Fire Rescue Frequently Asked Questions

You have questions and we have answers on a variety of topics related to the Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue facilities, operations, policies, jobs, customer services and more.

About Our Fire Rescue Department

843-682-5100 - Fire Rescue Headquarters Administrative Offices for the fire department.
* Call this number between the hours of 8 am - 4:30 pm for general questions.

843-682-5125 - E911 Communications Center for Non-emergencies
* Call this number any time of day if assistance is needed with lift assists, work being done on a building's fire alarm or sprinkler system, notification of a fire drill being conducted or any other items that may require fire department response but is not an emergency.

Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue received the ISO rating of Class 2.

Learn More About our ISO Rating


When reporting a 911 emergency, be prepared to provide the exact location of the emergency, what is involved (auto, home, vegetation, etc.), number of persons involved, your location, and the phone number you are calling from so that you can be re-contacted if you become disconnected.

If possible, remain at the scene and provide emergency responders with your eyewitness account of what occurred or what occurred at the time of your arrival at the scene.

Emergency Response

All of Hilton Head Island's firefighters are dual certified as either an EMT or paramedic and are cross trained to respond to both fire and emergency medical incidents. Fire Rescue is responsible for transporting all patients to the hospital as part of our system. Also, all of our fire apparatus are stocked with emergency medical equipment, allowing us to send the closest unit so medical care can be initiated immediately, regardless of what vehicle arrives first.

We respond to emergency calls in a tiered system, based on the nature of the call. When our E911 Operators receive a call for assistance, they ask standardized questions to determine the type and numbers of apparatus to send to the scene. This initial response provides the minimum number of responders required to address the needs of the patient(s).

The purpose of emergency lights and sirens is to let drivers and pedestrians know that an emergency vehicle are on their way to an emergency.

By state law (§), we have certain privileges given to us, including the ability to proceed through controlled intersections without stopping and travel against the designated flow of traffic. These privileges have rules that legislation and department policy require for emergency vehicles drivers. The main rule is that we cannot do these things unless there are lights flashing and sirens going. Even in the middle of the night.

When responding to a fire incident, a number of vehicles are sent to the incident in order to get the necessary number of personnel on scene as quickly as possible.

  • Each vehicle sent to the scene typically carries 2-3 personnel, so multiple vehicles must go to the scene to provide adequate manpower for the fire incident.
  • Firefighters arriving in the ambulance typically function as firefighters, performing normal firefighting duties but are also immediately available to provide emergency medical care on scene if needed.

Typically an ambulance and a fire truck are together as one team, with 3-4 personnel split between both apparatus.

  • The apparatus and personnel must always be prepared to respond to both fire and medical calls at any time, so when out in the community, both vehicles are always together regardless of the activity.
  • This is called cross-staffing and it reduces the number of full-time firefighters needed to staff apparatus and ambulances, but requires the vehicles stay together at all times.

To ensure the most effective service at the time of an emergency, our crews must remain in their designated response zone with their fire trucks during their entire shift.

  • Our crews work 24-hour shifts with no scheduled breaks, and meals are not provided by the Town.
  • Personnel on each shift must purchase their own food and prepare their own meals, so they usually make a daily trip to the grocery store within their zone to buy whatever they need to prepare their meals.

Fire and Medic crews do not have to be sitting in the fire station to be dispatched to a call. All units are in constant radio contact with E911 Communications and the entire crew must always be together with their truck and ambulance, ready to respond to any emergency, regardless of their current location or non-emergency assignment.

  • Often, our firefighters and paramedics spend long periods of their day running calls, without returning to the station or stopping to eat, and frequently have to return to the grocery store several times to finish purchasing food that they might not get a chance to cook during the shift.

Employment and Training

Openings will occur throughout the life of the two year hiring pool.

As openings occur candidates are further screened and offered employment based on the needs of the organization.

Learn About our Firefighter Hiring Pool

Fire Prevention

Our Fire Rescue Department provides free fire extinguisher training to businesses, schools, civic associations, and residents.

  • Training includes a presentation followed by hands-on live fire training.
  • We supply all of the materials for the training.

To schedule a class, contact our Public Education Office at 843-682-5141.

Reports and Permits

Submit your request for a fire incident report on our online Public Records Request Portal.

Submit a Records Request

Submit your request for EMS-related information on our online Public Records Request Portal.

Submit a Records Request