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Frequently Asked Questions

What services does South Thurston Fire & EMS provide?

The district provide fire protection and prevention services as well as Basic Life Support medical treatment and transport. We also have numerous member trained in wildland firefighting and rope rescue.


South Thurston gets regular visits from preschools, kindergarten, and scout troops for fire prevention classes. These classes discuss smoke detectors, exit drills, and what to do in case of an emergency. The district also receives calls from the general public regarding smoke and CO detectors. If you are interested in a fire prevention class or station tour, call the headquarter station at (360) 264-4116.

What's the difference between EMTs and Paramedics?

Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) attend about 150 hours of initial training in Basic Life Support (BLS) pre-hospital care. In Thurston county, EMTs can provide advanced 1st aid, CPR, and administer oxygen and oral glucose. EMTs respond to all medical calls within the district.

Paramedics are trained in Advanced Life Support (ALS) and attend an average of 9 months of full-time training after spending time as an EMT. Paramedics are trained in advanced care and treatment for cardiac and airway emergencies and they also have the ability to administer numerous drugs and utilize a portable EKG machine for heart monitoring and defibrillation. 

Why are there multiple emergency vehicles at a medical call?

This question has multiple answers. Typically, only an aid unit (or ambulance) is dispatched to all medical calls. All of our aid units are equipped and staffed to the Basic Life Support (BLS) level and we are able to transport patients to the hospital. Occasionally our first-out aid unit might be on another call, so the next available unit responds, as well as, a private ambulance company and maybe even an aid unit from a neighboring fire district.

In the event that the medical emergency requires Advanced Life Support (ALS) a medic unit will respond along with the fire department.

Public Info
Does the fire department rescue cats from trees?

No. If a cat, or other pet, is stuck in a tree it will most likely need to be rescued by someone equipped and trained to climb trees, like an arborist or tree trimming company. There is an organization that you can contact to help find somebody, it's and they have resources available to help you get your pet.

Public Information
Is there a fee for any of the services provided by the fire district?

Yes and No. Responses to most 9-1-1 calls do not carry a fee, the tax money we receive from our citizens cover most costs.


Transports done by a fire department aid unit to the hospital is not covered by taxes and there is a fee. However, a transport by a medic unit does not have a fee because it is a separate tax-based system and transports are included.

Responses to motor vehicle accidents have fees associated and are billed directly to the vehicle insurance company.

Fire suppression generally does not carry a fee, but there can be a fee for nuisance alarms and human-caused wildfires.

How do I get information about an emergency and the people involved?

General information about incidents, such as fires and vehicle accidents, are posted on our Facebook page and sent to local news outlets in a press release. As part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), we cannot share any personal information about patients except for medical personnel that are involved in the care and treatment of the patient.

If you were involved in an emergency and need a copy of the report or any other records, you will need to submit a Public Records Request.

How do I become a volunteer firefighter or EMT?

The first step is to submit an application, which is available HEREThere are a few requirements in order to apply, but no experience is necessary. The district will provide all initial training and gear. For more info, check out the VOLUNTEER page.

Outdoor Burning
Outdoor Burning
Why do I need a burn permit and how do I get one?

If you are eligible for a legal burn Residential Burn Permit, note that it applies ONLY to residential burning, which includes leaves, clippings, and other yard and garden refuse originating at your residence. Permits are valid October 1 through July 14. A new permit must be obtained after Oct. 1 each year. Permits are free and can be found HERE

Individuals considering burning larger piles, such as land clearing and logging debris, must apply for a LAND CLEARING PERMIT from ORCAA.

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