Fire Operations

The Fire Operations division is responsible for the majority of the activity in the Honolulu Fire Department in addition to multimission, emergency responses for the island of Oahu.

About Fire Operations

The Fire Operations division is comprised of the fire suppression force and is under the direction of an Assistant Chief and 17 Battalion Chiefs. The Fire Operations division is divided into three platoons. A platoon is the complement of approximately 332 fire fighters on any given day. The total number of companies in a platoon is 43 engine companies, 16 aerial companies, 2 rescue companies, 2 hazardous materials companies, 5 tankers, 3 helicopters, and 1 helicopter tender. Each platoon is divided into five battalions and headed by a Battalion Chief. Each Battalion Chief oversees approximately 12 companies.

The Fire Operations division also participates in the following nonemergency activities to enhance public safety and maintain response readiness:

  • Commercial and public school fire inspections
  • Preincident planning
  • Public demonstrations, displays, and lectures

Emergency Types

The Fire Operations division responds to emergencies, including, but not limited to, the following:


Technical Rescues

Emergency Medical Calls

Hazardous Materials Incidents

Natural Disasters



Engines are the backbone and most common apparatus (43 in total) in the Honolulu Fire Department. The engine is also called a pumper because it pumps water from its internal water tank or a fire hydrant.

HFD Fire Engine 18
Engine 18 Kailua

Tillered Ladder

The main characteristic of a tillered ladder apparatus is the turntable-mounted aerial ladder (101 feet). A tillered ladder requires two drivers. The driver in the front is called the apparatus operator who steers the front wheels. The driver in the rear is called the tillerman who steers the rear wheels. The apparatus operator also maneuvers the aerial ladder when needed.

HFD Tillered ladder truck
Ladder 4 Kuakini


The Tower apparatus has an elevated platform attached to the top of the aerial ladder (85 feet). The elevated platform can be maneuvered by an operator at the base of the ladder or by an operator standing on the platform.

HFD Tower Truck
Tower 40 Kapolei


Quint is short for quintuple combination pumper because these apparatuses have five functions. A quint provides a pump, a water tank, a fire hose, an aerial ladder (75 feet), and ground ladders.

HFD Quint Ladder truck
Ladder 24 Ewa Beach


Tankers can pump or supply water at an emergency. They can carry approximately 2,000 gallons of water. Tankers are a crucial resource when there aren’t any fire hydrants available.

HFD Tanker Truck
Tanker 28 Nanakuli

Hazardous Materials

The hazardous materials apparatus carries equipment to detect and mitigate chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive-related (CBRNE) incidents. Hazardous materials personnel have extensive training and immense technical knowledge that are needed to mitigate CBRNE incidents. Hazardous materials personnel must sometimes wear fully encapsulated suits to enter hazardous areas.

HFD Hazmat 2 fire truck

Search and Rescue

The Search and Rescue apparatus is often seen towing a rescue boat. Rescue personnel are trained to use specialized equipment and techniques to rescue people in extremely hazardous locations, such as steep mountainous terrain, confined spaces, deep trenches, bodies of water, and entangled in machinery or vehicles. The rescue boat is used for ocean rescues and searches. Rescue personnel have extensive training, superior technical skills, and sometimes operate in extremely hazardous conditions.

Search and rescue truck and boat

NOTAR Helicopter

The helicopter is dispatched to provide air support for rescue missions and wildland fires. To rescue people from mountainous terrain or the ocean, the crew may lower rescue personnel from the helicopter. They respond to emergencies from the mountain to the sea, up to three miles offshore. For wildland fires in mountainous areas, a light-weight, collapsible container is attached for water drops.

HFD Fire Operations Helicopter

Rapid Response Vehicle

A rapid response vehicle is a full-sized pickup truck utilized for emergency response and equipped with emergency lights and sirens and badged with high-visibility reflective wrap. Rapid response vehicles are primarily used for medical and public assist incidents. The rapid response vehicles may also be deployed to large-scale surge operations, such as natural disasters.

Rapid Response Vehicle
Rapid Response Vehicle