Department Divisions

Fire Employment

Community Risk Reduction

The Community Risk Reduction Branch, often referred to as the Fire Marshal’s Office is also responsible for investigating fires. This includes conducting criminal investigations of arson fires, arresting those responsible for setting fires or committing crimes associated with fire, and presenting testimony in the appropriate court of law. The personnel assigned to this division are certified firefighters, fire inspectors, and fire investigators or arson investigators.

Those that are arson investigators are certified by the State of Texas as peace officers. The individuals that are assigned to this Branch are responsible for the compliance of close to 5,000 businesses to fire and life safety codes.

How We Operate

The Community Risk Reduction Branch contains multiple Divisions and is staffed with one Deputy Chief/Fire Marshal, one Captain, three Lieutenants, and one Specialist that are responsible for the enforcement of fire codes and life safety codes, and public education. Additionally, they perform plan reviews for all new construction or major remodeling and issue permits for tank removal, outdoor burning, and pyrotechnics.

This Branch also performs daytime inspections of businesses and night inspections of nightclubs and bars to ensure the safety of the public. Along with the Emergency Operations Branch, they perform numerous public education programs and maintain all fire reports and records for the Waco Fire Department.


The Communications Division also known as “Dispatch” is staffed 24-hours a day by a minimum of two personnel who answer 9-1-1 calls and make rapid decisions based on the incident information as to which appropriate fire units to send to the emergency. Dispatching of fire units is assisted by use of a Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system that recommends the closest and most appropriate units to handle different types of emergencies. The Waco Fire Department stated goal to complete the dispatching process is that “90 percent of emergency alarm processing shall be completed within 64 seconds, and 95 percent of alarm processing shall be completed within 106 seconds.” This means that help is on the way – Fast!

The Waco Fire Dispatch Center is located on the 9th floor of the Waco Police Department building at 3115 Pine Avenue. They operate on an 800MHz frequency. Also, Emergency Management has a backup Early Emergency Alerting System located in the Fire Dispatch Center.

Tips for reporting for reporting an emergency:

  1. Remain calm.
  2. Identify what your emergency is.
  3. Tell the dispatcher where the location of the emergency is and the exact nature of the emergency (example: My car is on fire at 11th and Franklin.)
  4. If you are not in danger and time permits, please give a phone number and a name.
  5. If it is a structure fire and people are trapped, please tell the dispatcher how many and where they are located. After alerting the emergency crews, wait by the street to wave-down the emergency crews and give them updated information.
  6. Never hesitate to call the fire department in the case of an emergency. Time is a factor. A fire can double in size in minutes.
  7. Always have your address in at least four inch numbers and/or letters in an unobstructed view to the street.
  8. If it is a medical call, please give as much information about the patient(s) to the dispatcher.
  9. On any call, if there is any kind of danger that exists with the scene, please tell the dispatcher what the danger is. (Example: The car is hanging on the side of the bridge or people are trapped on the 5th floor and power lines are down in front of the building.)

Emergency Operations

Fire Emergency Response

The Operations Division is the largest and most visible Division within the Waco Fire Department, consisting of 189 personnel. Operations Division personnel staff each of the 13 fire stations daily, with a minimum staffing level of 53 personnel. The Waco Fire Department staffs 11 Engine Companies, 1 Quint Company, 3 Truck Companies, 3 ARFF Units (airports), and 2 Battalion Chiefs each day. Auxiliary equipment that is utilized for special incidents includes 2 Rescue Trucks, 3 Boats, 1 Jet-Ski, 3 Brush Trucks, a Regional HazMat Truck & Trailer, and other equipment.

The Waco Fire Department is the largest paid department in McLennan County. There are 13 fire stations in the City of Waco. All fire stations are strategically located throughout the city to help provide a response time of five minutes or less from the time Fire Dispatch receives the call. The Waco Fire Department has written mutual aid agreements with several of the surrounding communities, and routinely responds to assist when requested. The Operations Division handles emergency and non-emergency calls for service that include fires, medical emergencies, motor-vehicle accidents, technical rescues, hazardous materials releases, natural gas leaks, and many other types of calls. The Operations Division personnel also routinely assist the Community Risk Reduction Branch with providing education to prevent fires and accidents from occurring.

The Waco Fire Department participates with the Heart of Texas Council of Governments (HOTCOG) to offer regional response to Flood and Swift-Water and Rescue situations, as well as staffing the regional Hazardous Materials Response Team. Both teams are staffed daily and can respond when requested to a 6-county area outside of the City of Waco. 


Located at 7601 Steinbeck Bend Road, McLennan Community College and the City of Waco have formed a partnership and built the Emergency Services Education Center (ESEC). This 49,000 square foot facility opened in July 2009 and will house the Waco Fire Training Division along with several other agencies. Built adjacent to this state of the art facility, during Phase I of construction, is a 6-story Drill/Burn Tower.

Certified by the Texas Commission on Fire Protection (TCFP), the Training Division provides certification in Structure Firefighting, Aircraft Rescue Firefighting, Hazardous Material Technician, and Instructor I. The Training Division is also certified to deliver all levels of National Incident Management System (NIMS) training for the department.

The Training division develops, delivers, and maintains records of in-service and continuing education for the entire department and meets the requirements set forth under the Insurance Service Office (ISO). Coordinating with outside agencies, the Training Division also delivers Texas Department of Health in-service training and continuing education along with Confined Space Technician training.

Watch a video about our Fire Training Course:

Fire Prevention & Sparky the Fire Dog

Spreading the important message about fire prevention and life safety to the people of Waco falls into the hands of Waco Fire Department’s Public Education Office, a branch of the Fire Marshal’s Office. The Public Education Office develops and implements programs that teach children and adults about fire prevention and life safety.

Our staff schedules special appearances by Waco Fire Department personnel and vehicles, as well as fire station tours, smoke alarm installations and other services.

To request an appearance call (254) 750-1740.

  Sparky the Fire Dog

Sparky the fire dog is a Dalmatian who has been the official mascot of the “National Fire Protection Association”, a United States organization in charge of creating and maintaining minimum standards and requirements for fire prevention, suppression training, and equipment since 1951. Sparky not only hosts his own website to teach children about fire safety and other important safety topics, but has also starred in his own series of television public service announcements.

What Does Sparky the Fire Dog Represent?

Sparky is the key representative in presenting messages to children about fire hazards and precautionary safety measures. Today, the image of Sparky has become synonymous with helping children from Kindergarten to Grade 6 become aware of what to do in the event of fire.

Carol Heller, executive in charge of new product innovations at Kidde, made this comment: "Sparky the Fire Dog has helped millions of children be better informed about what to do in the event of a fire through his image on activity books, clothing and other information materials."

How Sparky the Fire Dog Became a Fiery Legend…

Once upon a time, there lived a small Dalmatian puppy which used to sit near a fence at a school. The puppy enjoyed watching the little children of the school play outdoors. One day, the puppy decided to follow two of the children to their home. Tired from the trot, the puppy lay near a tree to rest his weary feet. Upon awakening, the shocked little puppy realized that the children’s home was on fire. The puppy scampered to the local fire station to warn the firemen. The firemen heard the puppy's plea for help and rushed to the fire scene to douse the flames. When the raging fire was finally extinguished, the firemen noticed the poor little worried Dalmatian shivering under a tree.

The firefighters took the Dalmatian and brought him to the children’s family, in hopes that he could cheer them up. Once there, the firefighters informed the family that the dog had ran all the way to the fire station to inform the firefighters of the raging fire. The firefighters realized that the dog was a heroic anti-fire dog. Thus, the firefighters called the Dalmatian “Sparky the fire dog”, and Sparky found a new home at the fire station from then on.

Fire Suppression

Firefighters in a rescue

The Waco Fire Department is the largest paid department in McLennan County. In 1997, the Waco Fire Department implemented a First Responder Program to respond initially to rescue and medical emergencies. This service was enhanced with cardiac defibrillators in 1998.

In 1997, the Department formed a partnership with McLennan Community College to establish a college-based Fire Technology Program, and started hiring only pre-certified firefighters. In 2010, the Waco Fire Department will change their hiring process to pay individuals while attending McLennan Community College Fire Academy.

Two firefighters in a rescue

The Waco Fire Department has written mutual aid agreements with several of the surrounding communities. In July of 1998, for the first time, the department used helicopters and fixed wing craft for water and fire retardant drops on several major brush fires. These were coordinated with the Texas Forest Service.

The Waco Fire Department performs many more services than just firefighting and EMS. They perform water rescue, vertical rescue, vehicle extrication, animal rescue, pre-fire inspections, public education, fire investigations, and much more.

The Suppression Division is divided into three shifts. Each shift is supervised by an Assistant Chief.

There are 14 stations in the Waco Fire Department. Twelve of the stations are strategically located throughout the city to help provide a response time of five minutes or less from the time Fire Dispatch receives the call. Two of the stations are Airport Fire Stations.