What Is A 10 Alarm Fire?

Last updated: October 1, 2023


There are many different types of fires, but the most dangerous type is a 10-alarm fire. It’s important to know what to do if you or someone you love becomes trapped by one of these fires.

A 10 alarm fire is the most severe type of fire. It’s characterized by a large number of emergency vehicles and firefighters working to extinguish it. 10-alarm originated from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1881, with an ordinance that allowed up to ten units from each company to respond to an emergency.

Back at that time, firefighters used telegraphs to notify other stations of the need for assistance. This system allowed up to six alarms, or ten, depending on how many stations were contacted. 

For example, if there are five engines at a scene with no more than one being from another jurisdiction, the emergency would be designated as 511; this means that five engines are working on a single incident, and they have called for additional help once but not twice yet. 

If there are six engines at the scene with no more than one coming from another jurisdiction, the emergency would be designated 600. This means that all available resources have been exhausted, and outside help has been requested by phone call or radio transmission from an officer in charge of operations at the scene.

A 10 Alarm emergency can be where life safety may be threatened due to any number of reasons such as natural disaster, hazardous materials release, or major transportation accident involving multiple fatalities or serious injuries.

If any of these emergencies require extrication efforts beyond those capabilities provided by first responders on-site, without specialized equipment such as heavy rescue apparatus equipped with hydraulic tools capable of cutting through steel beams, other units with specialized tools are called.

The best way to protect your family and property from the dangers of a 10-alarm fire is to be prepared ahead of time.

  • Be sure all members of your house know how to call 911 if there’s an emergency
  • Make sure everyone knows where they should go during an evacuation 
  • If the area you live or work in is prone to fires, do emergency drills with everyone
  • Know which rooms or areas may need special attention when fighting flames
  • Keep kids and any pets inside at all times unless told otherwise by firefighters

Today, there are no set standards on how many alarms should be called or what constitutes a 10-alarm fire. Most cities use two-digit numbers to designate the severity of a fire. Visit www.siaonline.org.


How can I teach my children about home safety?

Teaching your children about home safety is not a one-time approach. Instead, you need to keep the safety discussion going. It should be continuous and must be done daily. The key here is to start when they are very young. Teach them basic safety first. Then as they grow, make the conversation more detailed. This way, they’ll never forget every important safety lesson you’ve taught them.

Where can I buy home security systems?

Lorex, Ring, Google Nest, and Arlo are some of the best brands from which you can purchase your smart home security cameras and order these you can visit their respective website.

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