Operations is the largest division of Palm Beach County Fire Rescue and is divided geographically into eight battalions. The Operations Division is responsible for the direct delivery of emergency services to the community.
PBCFR operates 49 fire stations throughout the county, with minimum daily staffing of 323 personnel on duty at all times. Units are relocated, as needed, to maintain zone coverage. PBCFR is an "all-hazards" department capable of responding to everything from a minor medical call to a regional natural disaster. All personnel are cross-trained in firefighting and emergency medical services, ensuring efficient fire suppression delivery, technical rescue, vehicle extrication, and emergency medical care.
PBCFR maintains two strategically located Special Operations teams, currently assigned to Stations 19 and 34, that respond to emergencies county-wide. Special Operations technicians receive continual training to maintain readiness in a number of disciplines, including:
- Hazardous Materials Response
- Confined Space and Technical Rescue
- Dark Water Dive Rescue
- Advanced Automobile Extrication
- Explosive Ordnance Disposal (with PBSO)
- High Angle Rescue
- Trench Rescue
- Large Animal Rescue
- Structural Collapse Rescue
The Personal Rescue Watercraft (PRWC) Program
The Personal Rescue Watercraft (PRWC) Program is a new addition to PBCFR's water rescue capabilities. Four new PRWCs are available to assist land-based crews during response to incidents such as drownings and other types of open water emergencies.
Strategically stationed at the busiest inlets in Palm Beach County, two PRWCs are currently assigned to Station 18, near the Jupiter Inlet and two are planned to be assigned near the Boynton Inlet. PBCFR prepares personnel to be proficient PRWC operators and skilled rescue swimmers during intense training taught in and on the water. A PBCFR PRWC offers an assigned operator and rescue swimmer in service during daylight hours to residents and visitors of Palm Beach County.
PBCFR in conjunction with the Palm Beach County Department of Airports have upgraded a key piece of equipment that protects citizens who travel into Palm Beach County. This 80,000 pound piece of equipment is known in the Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) community, as a crash truck, or Dragon.
The new Rosenbauer PANTHER 6x6 High Reach Extendable Turret (HRET) crash truck has the following features:
- Up to 750 horsepower engine
- Maximum speed of 75 mph, accelerates from 0 to 50 mph in less than 34 seconds
- Contains 3,000 gallons of water, plus three different extinguishing agents:
- 400 gallons of foam concentrate
- 500 lbs. of dry chemical extinguishing powder (Purple K)
- 460 lbs. of a clean agent extinguishing gas (Halotron)
- Stinger piercing tip that has the ability to pierce the fuselage of an aircraft at 2,600 psi and discharge
extinguishing agents into the aircraft
- High Reach Extendable Turret, an articulating boom that has the ability to reach above or below an aircraft
- High Volume Low Attack (HVLA) Bumper Turret is a hydraulic arm that allows the bumper turret to rotate
down to approximately 18” from the ground for a more effective foam application
- The Bumper Turret has a flow rate of 600 gallons per minute (GPM) on low flow and 1,200 GPM on high
flow, as well as dry chemical discharge. The previous crash trucks only had the ability to flow water/foam, no
dry chemical discharge, and only at a flow rate of 300 GPM.
Prior to 1990, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Department helicopters were used for air transport of critically ill and injured patients to area hospitals. With Palm Beach County's population rapidly growing, it was evident that a formal countywide Trauma System was necessary. In November 1990, the Trauma Hawk Aero-Medical Transport Program was established. The mission of the Trauma Hawk Aero-Medical Program is to save lives and reduce injury mortality through rapid transport of patients to specialized health care facilities such as; trauma, burn, spinal cord and pediatric hospitals.
Today, Palm Beach County Fire Rescue, through a unique partnership with the Health Care District of Palm Beach County, staffs the medical personnel on the Health Care District’s two Trauma Hawk air ambulances in Palm Beach County. The Sikorsky S76-C+ Trauma Hawk air ambulances are owned and operated by the Health Care District which is an FAA-licensed air carrier. They are identically equipped helicopters that can carry two patients each and up to four medical attendants if needed.