Emergency Response

The Kirkland Fire Department is creating a safer community as a respected partner in our region and an innovative leader in the nation.

Kirkland Fire Department maintains all-hazards response capabilities that match the risks in our community. In addition to fire suppression, emergency medical services, and patient transport, these capabilities include water rescue, hazardous materials response, and other technical rescue disciplines.

 Current Department Reports and Studies.

2019 Fire Annual Report(PDF, 21MB)
;2014 Standard of Coverage Study(PDF, 12MB)
- 2012 Fire Strategic Plan

King County has one of the best emergency response systems in the world. Read the article detailing the reasons King County is the gold standard in emergency response and cardiac arrest survival rates.

Our City * Our People * Our Duty
Our Commitment to Serve


Emergency Response

Kirkland Fire responds to hundreds of fires each year, 85 percent of these occur in residences. They also respond to fires in commercial and industrial properties, vehicle fires, and "interface" fires in brush and wooded areas.

Twenty Firefighter/Emergency Medical Technicians are on-duty around the clock. They staff five fire engines, one ladder truck, six aid cars (see below), and one command vehicle. Crews organize into three 48-hour shifts and work from five fire stations distributed throughout the City.

When dispatched to a 911 call, the department’s on-duty personnel respond with equipment appropriate for the type of incident. For example, if dispatched to a fire, crews will respond in a fire engine or ladder truck; if a medical call, the crew will respond in an aid car. Many calls, such as a motor vehicle accident, need a combination of engines, ladders, and aid cars. The “cross-staffing” model allows them to maintain both rapid first response and patient transport capabilities. 


Response Times

With response times being a prime indicator of the department's ability to mitigate the events during a fire, the department strives to meet the response goal of 5 minutes and 30 seconds 90 percent of the time. Up to date statistics on fire response times are available within the department's annual fire report.

Hazardous Materials Response

Kirkland Fire is part of the Eastside Hazardous Materials (HazMat) Consortium. This team, which has over 50 specially trained firefighters from nine eastside departments, can respond to a broad spectrum of hazardous materials emergencies.

The HazMat Team operates one HazMat response vehicle and two smaller “HazTac” units that carry equipment and personnel to the emergency scene. In addition to a variety of personal protective equipment, computers, and communication gear, the vehicles are equipped to provide product sampling and identification, radiation monitoring, containment, confinement, and decontamination. The team also has two mobile decontamination units for Multi-Casualty Incident (MCI) responses. These units can be deployed to scenes to decontaminate ambulatory and non-ambulatory patients.

Technical Rescue Response


firefighters at crane accident


Kirkland Fire Department plays a key role in developing the response, training, and equipment policies of the region’s technical rescue providers. Every year, firefighters from across the Northwest are trained in Technical Rescue by programs coordinated and facilitated by Kirkland firefighters.

Today, there are over 20 Kirkland firefighters trained to the highest certification level of Rescue Technician. The remainder of our firefighters are trained to provide critical support to these Technicians. Personnel assigned to Ladder 127 in the Totem Lake neighborhood are Rescue Technicians. When responding, the tools, equipment, and personnel of Ladder 127 provide formidable capabilities in mitigating a variety of rescue scenarios, including high and low angle rope rescue; confined space rescue; trench rescue; structural collapse rescue; vehicle and machinery rescue; and water rescue.

  technical rescue of crane accident

In addition to Ladder 127, the Kirkland Fire Department operates two Water Rescue Craft for rescue operations on Lake Washington.  The watercraft are stored year-round on the lake in partnership with Anthony's HomePort Kirkland. Dozens of Kirkland firefighters are trained to operate these watercraft and as Rescue Swimmers capable of performing surface water rescue on the lake.


FAQs Fire and Aid Response

Why do I see fire department vehicles using lights and sirens and then all of the sudden turn them off?

Usually they are "down graded" or cancelled by other fire units on the scene of an incident after those units determined that they are not needed.

Why do I see many fire department vehicles responding to one call?

Even though it may seem many incidents can be handled with just one vehicle, most of the calls require additional personnel from multiple units.

Why do I see a fire engine followed by an aid car around town?

We cross-staff our fire engines and aid cars with the same personnel. We keep these vehicles together to handle either an aid or engine call.

What does cross-staffed mean?

At each fire station there is an aid car and an engine/truck. If the call is medical in nature we take the aid car and place the engine/truck out of service. If it is a fire related call we take the engine/truck and place the aid car out of service. 

Why do I see two ambulances at calls?

As part of King County Medic One, the Kirkland Fire Department strives to respond in the most efficient manner. The KFD staffs Basic Life Support aid cars, which is equipped to perform basic medical procedures and heart defibrillation. This is the first "ambulance" that you see.

Most medical calls only require a basic response. For calls that require more advanced medical procedures a medic unit from either Evergreen Medic One, Bellevue Fire, or Shoreline Fire Medic One. These units have the ability to perform advanced medical procedures including IV Therapy, drug administration, and advanced airway management.

Why do I see fire vehicles from other cities at fires or other major incidents?

Kirkland, like all communities in King County, has formal agreements in place with our neighboring jurisdictions to provide and receive “automatic aid.” These agreements allow for the dispatch of the fire department resource closest to the emergency, regardless of municipal boundaries. A person experiencing a major medical emergency in south Kirkland or north Bellevue, for example, will likely receive a response from both Kirkland and Bellevue. These agreements also acknowledge the reality that mitigating major emergencies requires a collective effort. In order to safely and efficiently manage a building fire, for example, personnel from four engines, two ladder trucks, two command officers, and a variety of other resources are typically needed. Most Eastside jurisdictions would be hard-pressed to provide these resources on their own.

Are you firefighters or EMTs?

Our responders are both and are cross-trained as Firefighter/EMTs!

Why do fire department vehicles arrive on scene at separate times?

Each vehicle that arrives responds from a different station located in different areas.

When a department vehicle approaches a scene, I notice it sometimes seems to start and stop all the time. Why?

Usually we are looking for an address. Unfortunately, finding the marked address on a building can be difficult: sometimes the address is obscured or too small to see from the street, and sometimes the address may not be displayed on the building. That’s why it’s critical to have addresses highly visible!



Basic Life Support Transport Fee

About the Basic Life Support Transport Fee Program

On March 1, 2011 the Kirkland Fire Department began its Basic Life Support (BLS) Transport Fee Program. The Program was established to create a sustainable revenue source to support essential emergency medical services.  The BLS transport user fee is utilized to provide emergency medical services to the Kirkland community.

Program Overview

Patients transported to a medical facility by the Kirkland Fire Department will be billed for the cost associated with transportation. Available insurance will be billed prior to billing patients whenever possible. The fee applies to patients who receive Basic Life Support (BLS) services.  No patient will be denied services based on his/her ability to pay or whether he/she has health insurance.  BLS transport is a standard service covered by insurance companies. 

Fee Overview 

In 2021 the fee is $720.35 plus $16.81 per mile. The City’s program provides for financial assistance.  * Please note that some paper forms containing out of date fee information may still be in circulation.

Billing Overview

The transported patient is ultimately responsible for the cost of the transport.   In most cases, his/her insurance company(s), including Medicaid, Medicare, and most private insurance policies – will pay all or part of the charge.  Patients without insurance will be billed for the full fee but those who are unable to pay may be eligible for financial assistance.

At the time of transport, the patient will be asked to complete and sign a Billing Authorization form. 

The City’s third-party billing service, Systems Design West, includes primary and secondary insurance submissions including:

• Federal – Medicare, VA & OWCP
• State – Medicaid, L&I & Crime Victims
• Private insurance
• Auto Insurance

 Payment Overview

If the patient’s insurance company(s) refuses to cover the transport fee, Systems Design will help the patient demonstrate to the insurance company(s) that the transport was a medical necessity.  If the patient is unable to pay, he/she may submit an (PDF, 122KB)EMS-Transport-Financial-Assistance-Application(PDF, 122KB) Application to Systems Design.  

Kirkland Fire Department Privacy Practices(PDF, 86KB)  
Authorization to Transport Form(PDF, 105KB)
Notice of Financial Assistance(PDF, 36KB)
Transport User Fees Frequently Asked Questions(PDF, 173KB)  


Emergency Medical Services


Water Rescue

Situated along the shores of Lake Washington, the City of Kirkland has a vibrant water front.  Residents and visitors enjoy the parks, water front dinning and our marina.  Kirkland Fire Department operates a comprehensive water rescue program to protect the public.  Kirkland Firefighters are trained in surface water rescue techniques.  In support of our rescue swimmers, KFD operates two Water Rescue Craft (WRC).   Known as Boat-121 and Boat-122, the WRC are available for rescue operation along Kirkland’s shore and in support of our surrounding jurisdictions.  Our rescue swimmers often work in cooperation with King County Sheriff and Seattle PD marine units on Lake Washington.     Our WRC craft are stored year-round on the lake in partnership with Anthony's Restaurant.