Fire Chief William F. Howell, III
Fire Chief William F. Howell, III

Bethel Fire Department


The mission of the City of Bethel Fire Department is to protect life and property by providing quick and efficient responses to fires, medical emergencies and other hazardous situations and increasing public awareness of hazards through aggressive Fire Prevention and Public Education programs.




The Fire Department acts in accordance with the Bethel Municipal Code and Alaska Statutes pertaining to Fire and Life Safety, Fire Departments and Emergency Medical Services and works with the State Fire Marshal's Office with regards to Fire and Life Safety enforcement.


The Bethel Fire Department is registered with the Alaska State Fire Marshal's Office by means of an Annual Summary Report. The department's ambulance service is registered with the State of Alaska as an Emergency Medical Service authorized to provide Advanced Life Support.




Fire Suppression & Rescue

The department responds to fires and rescue situations. A full-time shift crew of six works a rotating schedule of 24 hour shifts that enables there to be two paid staff per shift. The Fire Chief works days and is on-call at all other times.


There are about 20 members of the community that serve as firefighter volunteers with the department. The department operates two fire engines, a water tanker, an aerial apparatus and a small tundra fire vehicle out of the fire station building at 320 Hoffman Highway. The priority of goals in the suppression of fire is to save lives, limit the spread of fire, extinguish the fire and minimize property damage from fire.


Fire Prevention (Fire and Life Safety Inspections and Public Education)

The department has a program under which its personnel regularly examine those parts of the community where a significant fire problem might develop. Personnel inspect commercial property in the community with an emphasis on those occupancies identified as subject to a high level of hazard to life and property. The department offers its services to residential homeowners through its "Home Safety Inspection" program.


The department has a regular program of Public Education throughout the year with a special emphasis during the annual (October) "Fire Prevention Month" program. Children from the schools visit the fire station for fire prevention classes and the department visits the schools for additional classes and fire drills. Smoke detectors are sold around the year at the fire station and at a booth set up at the various store lobbies during October. Free nine-volt batteries are given to those that need them at any time and smoke detectors are tested for free. Smoke detectors are available at no charge to anyone who cannot afford to buy one and the department, upon request, will install and test detectors in homes for those without the means to do so themselves. 


Emergency Medical Services

The department responds to calls for Emergency Medical Service from the fire station 24 hours a day. All paid staff and volunteer staff of the department are certified by the State of Alaska as Emergency Medical Technicians. There are about 10 members of the community that serve as volunteer EMT's with the department. The department operates two ambulances that are housed in the fire station building. Both ambulances were built and are equipped to State and Federal standards for ambulances and ambulance services. The community of Bethel currently enjoys the benefit of having an ambulance service that is certified by the State of Alaska as an "Advanced Life Support" unit. This is a higher level of service than provided by a "Basic Life Support" unit.



Training in Fire & Emergency Medical Services & Hazardous Materials

The department conducts training for its members in the areas of firefighting, emergency medical services and hazardous materials. The department offers training free of charge, when ever possible, to other City departments and outside agencies. Training is consistent with recognized Federal and State standards.


Hazardous Materials Response

          The department responds to hazardous materials incidents at the first responder level of training. OSHA regulations require that all emergency responders be trained to this level. In addition, the department has a few of its members trained to the hazardous waste handler level. Major hazardous materials incidents are coordinated with the local Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) office in Bethel and the Alaska Division of Emergency Services (ADES) at FortRichardson.