Honolulu Truck 3

The Hawaiian Fire Departments

The fire departments of Hawaii are interesting, not because of some exotic organization or equipment, but because they have carried a concept in government to a degree that is probably rare. Their government divisions and practices will be foreign to most of us.

Here are some basic concepts they practice.

- There are virtually no city governments in the entire state. There are no city councils. There are no city governments to deal with. All fire departments are county run. (With the exception of the federal FD's on military bases.)

- There are only four counties in the entire state. Yes, this means that there are only four "municipal" fire departments.

- Each of the four counties is lead by a, non-partisan, mayor and council.

- Sometimes a county will include several populated islands. This is the case with Maui County.

- Maui County encompass the populated islands of Maui, Lanai and Molokai.

Maui County E-3, Lahaina

- Almost all Hawaiian fire apparatus is yellow. This started to change from red about 10-15 years ago. There are still a few red apparatus, but they are rare. Kauai County still has red apparatus.

- Hawaii firefighters work the "west coast" time schedule with 24 on / 24 off, for four shifts then several days off in a row. Exception- Because Lanai is considered a "remote" fire station the firefighters there work 3 days on and 6 days off.

- Lanai has less than 4000 in population.

Kauai Fire Department, E-3, Lihue

Rescue 3, Kauai, Lihue

- The 2005 population estimate for Hawaii is 1.25 million.

- About 1,000,000 people live in Honolulu County on Oahu. This makes it the 11th largest "city" in the U.S.

- This means that 250,00 are divided among the seven other islands. (That's an average of only 36,000 per island but some are almost unpopulated with less than 1000 residents.)

- The Honolulu FD has 44 stations with 5 Battalions.

- The Kauai County FD has 7 fire stations.

- The Maui County FD has 13 stations.

- The Hawaii (Big Island) FD has 454 full-time personnel and 345 volunteer firefighters. (22 Fire Stations???)

HFD (Big Island) Station 9 (Photo by David Moskovitz)

- Police protection is county run also. (On some islands the police simply use their own cars with a blue light on top.)

Big Island Police Car (Moskovitz Photo)

- What we think of as cities all over the islands, aren't really. For example, Kona and Hilo on The Big Island are not incorporated cities. They have no mayors, no city councils, no police departments and no fire departments.

- Hawaii has no school districts. It has the only state run school system in the U.S..

Ford Island (Pearl Harbor) Federal Fire Department,
(The Battleship Missouri in the background.)

Ford Island Fire Station, Pearl Harbor Naval Base, taken from the USS Missouri.

Rescue Vehicle, Kauai Airport (State fire service)