Firefighters in a group

Firefighter Jargon

Firefighters use their own terminology and slang words

People that have firefighter friends and hear them talk about work related situations often have no clue what they talk about. Many of them use terms most people don’t understand. Not the big, fancy words, but slang terms used by only firefighters. Did you know you never refer to the hose when talking to a firefighter?? Well, there are entire dictionaries and glossaries devoted to firefighting terms and language so we can’t give you all of them, but here are 7 Firefighter slang words that you might have heard, but didn’t know the meaning of:

1. Stretchin’

When there is a working fire, firefighters tell central that they are stretchin’ on whatever it is they are going to work on. For example, when firefighters pull up to a house fire, they would say, “Engine 30 stretchin’ on a two flat going throughout.” This means that firefighters responded to the fire and stretched their lines to fight it.

2. Pipe

That’s the hose. It is also sometimes called the ‘Line’ and is pretty much NEVER called a hose.

3. Pipeman

This term is typically used only by inner city firefighters. Pipeman is usually the person on the engine. This is the person carrying the pipe into the fire to extinguish it.

4. Jake

In the Midwest the term Jake means that someone is a terrible firefighter. On the East Coast, it means that person is a good firefighter. No one knows why the same word in different areas means completely opposite things.

5. Deckie

Firefighters on the back of the engine are called a deckie.

6. Truckie

A firefighter assigned to a ladder company and working on the ladder truck.

7. Redline

A red, 1-inch diameter, hose line that puts out 60gpm. All engines and trucks have them. It is used on car fires, trash fires, and even sometimes on dwelling fires. It’s on a reel so it is deployed and put away very quickly.

There are literally hundreds more and many different locations have their own slang terms. If you are really interested here is a great online resource for you:

Fire Engine

Home Fire Safety & Prevention Tips

The most effective way to protect yourself and your home from fire is to identify and remove fire hazards.

Most of home fire deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms. During a home fire, working smoke alarms and a fire escape plan that has been practiced regularly can save lives. Read how your family can prevent home fire.

Steps you can take now to stay safe

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home – inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
  • Test smoke alarms every month and replace the batteries at least once a year. This can be done manually by pressing a test button or using Smoke Detector Tester Spray.
  • Keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as space heaters.
  • Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • Talk to children regularly about the dangers of fire, matches and lighters and keep them out of reach.

Create a home escape plan

  • Have two ways out of each room.
  • Know to crawl low to the floor when escaping to avoid toxic smoke.
  • Know that once you’re out, stay out.
  • Know where to meet after the escape.
  • Meeting place should be near the front of your home, so firefighters know you are out.
  • Practice your fire escape plan.

Remember to GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL 9-1-1 or your local emergency phone number.

  • If closed doors or handles are warm, use your second way out. Never open doors that are warm to the touch. Crawl low under smoke.
  • Go to your outside meeting place and then call for help.
  • If smoke, heat or flames block your exit routes, stay in the room with doors closed. Place a wet towel under the door and call the fire department or 9-1-1. Open a window and wave a brightly colored cloth or flashlight to signal for help.

Print this Home Safety Checklist to better prepare.


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