Frequently Asked Questions
Bees - Who do I call if I have a swarm of bees?
The Brenham Fire Department does not remove bees unless there is imminent danger to a person. If such a situation exists, firefighters destroy the bees and the hives. To have bees removed, look in the Yellow Pages under Beekeepers or call the fire station for a list of Beekeepers at 979-337-7300.
Additional bee information can be obtained at the County Extension Office: 979-277-6212
Burn Bans are put on and taken off by Washington County Commissioners Court. If you have any concerns about them call the courthouse or your County Commissioner (979) 277-6200.
Burning inside the City Limits
Extinguishment Authority - The fire code official is authorized to order the extinguishment of any open burning, recreational fire, or bonfire that creates offensive or objectionable smoke or odor or adds to a hazardous or objectionable situation.
Cats - Do you get cats out of trees/telephone poles/off of roofs?
No. Try opening a can of tuna and waiting for the cat to get down on its own.
Controlled Burns - How do I report on in the County
To report a controlled burn in the county call Washington County Communications at 979-277-7373 and give them your address and phone number.
False Fire Alarms
The City of Brenham charges for excessive false fire alarms that are received from commercial and/or residential occupancies in accordance with City Code Section 17-75 entitled "Fees Charged for False Alarms" (Ordinance of 8-31-89). No charge is made for the first twelve (12) false alarms received from a particular location with a calendar year. Beyond that, a charge of $30 per false alarm is assessed.
Why Was This Fee Created?
False fire alarms place responders at risk, consume time and cost money. The goal of this false alarm fee is to decrease the number of false alarms that firefighters must respond to by encouraging alarm system owners to properly maintain their systems. This saves wear and tear on fire equipment and increases firefighter availability for real emergencies. Reducing false fire alarms also allows our 9-1-1 center to process other calls in a more efficient manner.
What is a False Alarm?
A false alarm is defined as any activation of a fire alarm system which is caused by equipment malfunction, whether the system is monitored off-site or not, and which results in a response by the Fire Department. Responses which are cancelled by the property owner or business operator prior to arrival of Fire Department personnel are counted as false alarms.
What is Not a False Alarm?
Fire alarms that are activated by weather conditions such as lighting, power surges, thunder, wind or other storm activity, or smoke detector activation in residences that are not connected to an alarm monitoring system, are not considered to be false alarms. Honest mistakes where Fire Department officials determine that a fire alarm system was activated by a person believing that a real fire emergency exists, or activated by a person who was attempting to summon help for a different type of emergency, are not considered to be false alarms.
What happens if I have more than 12 false alarms in a year?
Persons, firms or corporations are allowed up to twelve (12) false alarms per calendar year without charge. The $30 per call charges start to accrue after the 12th false alarm in the same year. The City of Brenham will bill the owner or operator of the facility for the charges.
Fire Apparatus - Why do so many fire apparatus respond to simple incidents?
Fire Department units are dispatched according to information received by the 9-1-1 operator. The Brenham Fire Department is prepared to deal with the worst that could happen at any given incident.
The fire department's philosophy is to get our firefighters there as soon as possible. In preparation for the worst case scenario, an ambulance often is dispatched as well.
There may be three fire department vehicles on the scene for what appears to be a "simple" incident. However, in emergency services we have learned that if we assume something is "simple," we can be horribly mistaken. Plus, we respond as fast as we can, prepared to encounter the worst. The winner in these situations will always be the citizen who needs help.
Why are there so many private automobiles with red lights at an emergency scene?
Brenham Fire Department is a combination fire department with both paid and volunteer members, and is made up of 14 paid and up to 50 volunteer members. Volunteer members respond to emergencies in their own private vehicles.
Fire Code - What fire code does the City of Brenham use?
The City of Brenham has adopted the International Fire Code, 2012 Edition.
Fire Code Violation - How do I report a possible fire code violation or unsafe situation?
You may contact our offices 979-337-7300 to report the unsafe situation or code violation. We will send someone out to verify the code violation and issue corrective notices if applicable.
Fire Extinguisher - Who do I call about a fire extinguisher that doesn't work?
Check the Yellow Pages under Fire Extinguishers. The Brenham Fire Department does not furnish or service extinguishers. Call the Fire Station for a list of vendors in our area at 979-337-7300.
Fire Fighters - Why do I see firefighters cutting holes in the roof of a building on fire?
This is called "venting the roof." There are two basic reasons for this practice. Dangerous gases and dark smoke accumulate in a burning building. Unlike the movie versions of fires, it is impossible for firefighters to see in such an environment. When a hole is made in the roof, the building is "vented", which allows the smoke and gases to escape because heat and smoke rise. This makes it much easier for the firefighters in the building to see, and removes much of the built-up heat from the fire, reducing the possibility of backdraft and flashover. The second reason for venting the roof is to see how far the fire has progressed. One of the fastest avenues through which fires spread is the attic. Heat and smoke rise into the attic where the fire can move quickly. Firefighters may go ahead of the fire on a roof, cut holes to access the attic and stop the fire from spreading through the attic.
Fire Truck - How can I schedule a fire truck or a firefighter at my function?
Call the Fire Station at least three weeks in advance at 979-337-7300.
Possession, discharge, transport, storing, offering for sale, or presence of any fireworks, within the City limits of Brenham or within five thousand (5,000) feet of the City limits of Brenham is declared to be a nuisance and is prohibited by City Ordinance.
Gas Leak - Where do I report a leak?
City of Brenham Public Utilities during business hours 979-337-7400 24 hrs. a day.
Fire Hydrant Leak - Where do I report a leaking hydrant?
Water Department 979-337-7400, after hours call 979-277-7373.
Investigation Report - How do I get a copy of a fire investigation report?
Intersections - fire trucks with sirens on turn off their lights and siren after going through intersection
Sometimes several units are dispatched to the same incident. The first unit may have arrived on the scene, surveyed the situation and informed the dispatcher that the situation was under control. All other responding units were cancelled and put back into service, ready to take another call. Most likely, when you see an emergency vehicle go "Code 3" (lights and siren) through an intersection and then slow down and turn the emergency lights off, they have been cancelled from the call they were going on.
Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention Program
Call the Fire Marshals' Office at 979-337-7302
Knox Boxes - Knox Box Company
The Brenham Fire Code requires a key box on every new building (except private residences, Group R-3). Owners of private residences, as well as existing commercial buildings, are encouraged to install a key box, but are not required to do so. For more information contact the Fire Marshal at 979-337-7302.
The KNOX-BOX® Rapid Entry System was specifically developed for the fire department. With one master key, they can gain access to commercial and residential property. More than 11,500 departments nationwide use Knox key boxes, vaults, key switches, and padlocks. The Brenham Fire Department does not sell the Knox devices, nor do we have any affiliation with the company other than to provide order forms. The Fire Department does provide periodic preventive maintenance on the Knox boxes, without cost to the building owner.
Planning Development & Community Service Department
Permits - Fire Marshals' Office
The Brenham Fire Department will do prevention programs at your school or office, call at least three weeks prior for an appointment 979-337-7300. Some of the programs are:
- Fire extinguisher training
- Home inspections
- Building inspections
We are happy for you or your group to come and tour the station. Please call the station two weeks in advance to schedule your time. Please remember that we have a limited number of personnel and if we happen to be out on a call we may have to reschedule your time.
Smoke Detector - When do I change my battery in my smoke detector?
You should change your battery when you change your clocks, twice a year. If your detector is over ten years old you should replace it.
Swimming Pool Regulations - Who do I call to find out about swimming pool regulations?
Call the Planning and Development & Community Service Department at 979-337-7269 for pool permits and fencing regulations.
Will the Fire Department fill my swimming pool?
No, the Brenham Fire Department does not fill swimming pools, please contact the City Utility Department at 979-337-7400.
Who do I call to rent the Brenham Fireman's Training Center for my event?
Call the Brenham Fire Department Administrative Assistant to schedule your event at 979-337-7300.
Why is my smoke detector making a funny sound (chirping)?
Any time your smoke detector goes off, it's important to pay attention. If it is sounding its loud alarm because it senses the presence of smoke, check your home thoroughly. If you smell smoke and are unable to locate a fire, call 9-1-1 and the City of Brenham Fire Department will send an engine to make sure that a fire isn't smoldering in a hidden area. If you don't smell smoke, the detector may be reacting to the presence of dust, steam or a small insect or spider. Dust and bugs can be removed by a vacuum cleaner. If steam from a nearby shower is affecting your smoke detector regularly, move the detector to a different location. If the detector is just chirping, thumping or buzzing, it probably means that the battery is low. Replace the battery as soon as possible. Without a working battery, a smoke detector cannot do it job and the risk of dying in a fire increases greatly.
Do I need a carbon monoxide detector in my house?
Yes, carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is produced by incomplete combustion of a hydrocarbon fuel. This could be caused by an improperly operating gas stove, gas water heater, oil or gas furnace, fireplace or kerosene heater. Even a motor vehicle operating in an enclosed space such as a garage could cause carbon monoxide to build up inside your home.
How often should I check my smoke detectors?
Smoke detectors should be checked monthly.
Do my smoke detectors ever need to be replaced?
Smoke detectors have a normal life expectancy of 10 years. If you are getting false alarms from your detector, it may need to be replaced. When having problems with your detector, always remember to check the battery.
What is the best way to display my address numbers?
Address numbers are very important to emergency responders. Having address numbers visible is not only required, but will help emergency personnel (fire, ambulance, or police) find your house. The numbers should be reflective or a color that contrasts with the house. They should be near a light to help make them visible. Don't place them on the garage door as the door may be raised when the numbers are needed. You should check that the numbers are visible from the street.
What type of fire extinguisher is best for my home?
A multi-purpose fire extinguisher is best for the home. Look for the rating to be at least 2A:10B:C on the label. This extinguisher can be used on any type of fire commonly found in the home. It will often be labeled A-B-C and may be purchased at many City of Brenham retail businesses.