Many people still maintain the vision of firefighters sitting around the table at the firehouse, playing cards or checkers, waiting for the next fire to occur. Those days disappeared many decades ago and the fire department has evolved into a multi-faceted public service agency with an ever increasing workload. Firefighters today are expected to have knowledge and maintain skill in a seemingly endless variety of topics including: Emergency medical treatment, hazardous materials, computers and technology, public education, fire protection systems, apparatus and equipment operation and maintenance, public administration, public relations and of course fire fighting.

This is why we cannot say that there is a "typical day" at the Fire Department. Each day or "shift" brings the firefighter new training, opportunities and challenges. Firefighters work a 48-hour shift followed by 96 hours off.  Following is an idea of what one 24 hour shift at a Napa Firehouse might look like.

7:45 am Arrive at the firehouse and prepare for the 8:00 start of the shift.
8:00 am Line up in the apparatus room for roll call and to receive your assignment for the day. (What engine are you on? Are you driving? Are you being reassigned to another station today?). The Captain will then go over what the schedule for the day is, knowing full well that even one "call" could throw a wrench into the works.


8:15 am All personnel with the exception of the Captain will begin to check out each fire engine and piece of equipment to ensure that it is fully operational. Paramedics will also check out all of the specialized medical equipment and verify that all medications are accounted for. During this morning check out routine the Captain will be in his or her office logging personnel and equipment on the computer, verifying training and inspection schedules and performing other administrative duties.


9:30 am The firehouse really is our home for the 24 hour shift, which means that a certain amount of housework must be done on a daily basis to keep our home clean and livable in spite of the nature of our work. Generally, time is set aside in the morning for this necessary task.

day4.jpg10:00 am Firefighters must maintain a certain level of physical fitness and we attempt to set aside time each day for physical training. This time is occasionally interrupted by calls and/or necessary training but it is an important part of our job and every attempt is made to provide the opportunity.


11:00 am This remaining hour in the morning can be filled in many ways. Typically the engine company must go shopping for meals and there are generally miscellaneous errands that must be taken care of (Fuel and equipment for the engines, pick up supplies, etc.) Additionally, training or inspections may be scheduled in the morning if time allows.



12:00 pm Lunch

1:00 pm The afternoon hours provide us with the largest block of time for training, business inspections and special programs.


  • Training events may include fire fighting techniques, medical knowledge and skills, hazardous materials or specialized rescue training.
  • Business inspections are provided by the engine companies with each company generally responsible for 100 or more inspections a year.
  • Virtually every firefighter in the department is involved in a special program which requires additional hours for management. Sometimes time is allotted in the afternoon for these programs.
  • Maintenance of the apparatus and equipment is also done in the afternoon on a regularly scheduled basis.


day9.jpgday10.jpg 5:00 pm When the engine companies return to quarters their work day is still not complete. Many reports still need to be written, any unfinished business of the day needs to be completed and of course, dinner must be prepared.

6:00 pm Dinner
7:00 pm After the dishes have been done, the evening hours are generally left unscheduled. Many firefighters will use this time to complete reports, work on special projects or study for tests or promotions.

11:00 pm Sleep if you can.

7:30 am The off going shift spends time with the oncoming shift to share any important information about the apparatus, equipment or the station.

8:00 am Released from duty.



The above schedule does not include the average 16 calls per day that are split between the four fire stations. The time spent on a call can vary from 30 minutes to several hours or more and may involve one or two engines or every piece of available apparatus. This can have a significant impact on the schedule for the day and many times training or maintenance must be rescheduled to another day. The firefighters accept this as a part of their job and learn to be very flexible in their daily "routine". Calls that occur at night do not interrupt the work schedule so much as your sleep cycle. Frequently firefighters must sleep during part of their day off to catch up and be rested for their next shift.