More Fire Bikes...

Orlando Fire Department Bicycle Team

You might remember a post in early September about a fire bike which had been modified to haul hose as part of a fire response team. Gavin, of BikELove - Scotland, provided a link to more information which piqued my interest even further. I dug into the topic a very little bit, I am quite sure just barely scratching the surface, but enough to realize that bicycle use by fire departments is unsurprisingly widespread. Bike patrols have become ubiquitous parts of police departments around the world, so it really should not be much of a surprise that bikes provide many other emergency response roles.

In the United Kingdom, fire departments utilize bicycles in both public relations and awareness, and emergency response in instances where large crowds or inaccessible locations may hamper access by larger vehicles. In Nuneaton, Warwickshire the Bicycle Intervention Knowledge and Education (BIKE) Team talk with the public in order to reduce incidents of arson and other anti-social behaviors. But they also are used as a way to reach "places we can't normally get to - off-road, on fields and amongst woods." Similar units in parts of London have reported as much as a 50% decrease in arson incidents since their mobilization. The use of bikes adds another component to emergency response, "It's all about giving the fire service an added presence and allowing us to engage with the community more" says a Staffordshire Crew Manager.

In the United States, fire departments in locales as widely spaced as Orlando, Florida, Troy, Ohio, James City Couny, Virginia, and close to home, Upland, California all incorporate bicycle units into their ranks. As in England, most of these units are operational during special events when large crowds inhibit easy movement of larger vehicles, and when responding to emergencies in more inaccessible areas. The Troy Fire Department Bicycle Paramedic Program, begun 1994, has noted that response times during crowded events have been shortened by 3 to 5 minutes below more traditional motorized response. The City of Orlando Fire Department deploy's two-member bicycle teams consisting of a paramedic and an emergency medical technician. Each team carries EMS 1st response equipment and are capable of assessing the needs for additional care. The Upland Fire Department Bicycle Paramedic Team provides "rapid response through congested areas where conventional emergency response may be delayed due to accessibility difficulties." The two-member teams are assigned to congested areas during certain times of the year, and during large public events. In addition the Upland Fire Department believes that unit members serve as roles models for bicycle safety and public health.

That last reason for being, seems to be a common thread amongst the various units I have read information on. The emergency response role may be the most important aspect of these units, but they also serve as ambassadors, liaison between their respective departments and the public, as well as role models for healthy living and public bicycle safety. Not quite the same as hauling fire hose around, but certainly and important mission.


  1. Good update Michael... I had forgotten to investigate this one further after finding the initial link.


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