Yesterday and Today

The Navajo Nation Department of Fire & Rescue Services is a fairly young organization. It was established in 1985 in Fort Defiance (Arizona) and was initially charged with the responsibility of preventing and suppressing fires and performing some vehicle rescue (extrication) services.

Today, the department is charged with preventing and suppressing fires, performing technical rescues, and mitigating the effects of hazardous material incidents. Other duties grand-fathered in, because of the evolution of the fire service, include emergency medical pre-hospital care delivery (i.e. Emergency Medical Services at the First Responder and Emergency Medical Technician levels) and the response to Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Services are provided from the following stations. Other communities not listed are either protected by a community fire department or the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).

Window Rock (Fire Station 10)

Fort Defiance (Fire Station 12)

Chinle (Fire Station 50)

Tuba City (Fire Station 40)

Shiprock (Fire Station 20)

Newcomb (Fire Station 21)

Ojo (Fire Station 22)

Twin Arrows (Fire Station 81)

At each fire station there exist between 1-2 volunteer firefighters and one to five paid firefighters. Going up the hierarchy is the Fire Captain who oversees a section of the department. Those sections being the Operations Section and the Prevention Section. At the top of the hierarchy is the Fire Chief.

Training and Demand

Training demands require the most time for fire service personnel, particularly in initial training. Easily, the recruited firefighter can accumulate up to 400 hours or 5 months of training just to begin firefighting activity. The reason, besides the high-risk work involved, is to meet national consensus standards for training, which is the National Fire Protection Associations’ (NFPA) Standard 1001, Standard for Firefighter Professional Qualifications. Because our volunteers have to meet a standard, they are in no way associated with unprofessional. The standard requires that they meet the same training requirements, if not more, than a major metropolitan fire department.

Historically, these firefighters learned on the job, but with rising litigation because of firefighter Line of Duty Deaths (LODD) and injuries, most organizations do not apt to take the O.J.T. or On the Job Training method.

National consensus standards, such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations play "devil’s advocate" in the department’s recruitment and retention issue of volunteer firefighters by increasing both classroom and practical requirements. The intent of these standards and laws was not to increase the difficulty of becoming a firefighter but to decrease the number of LODD by increasing safety awareness and establishing minimum competencies requirements. This delay to begin firefighting activity now acts as a catalyst to the potential firefighter's commitment because the enthusiasm to become a firefighter is now lost.



Yearly, the department responds to over 1,500 calls annually. Just from the eight fire stations, property loss due to fires is estimated at over $1,000,000. Although fires account for a low percentage of our calls (vehicles Crashes being the number one, followed by EMS calls), a single fire incident can result in over $50,000.00 worth of damages and losses.

Below is a breakdown of our statistics: From FY2021 through FY2023

Incident Types FY2021 FY2022 FY2023
100: Fire 78 266 295
    111-123: Structure Fire 26 72 84
    130-138: Vehicle Fire 8 40 37
    140-143: Vegetation Fire 13 82 95
200: Overpressure Rupture, Explosion, Overheat (No Fire) 0 2 1
300: Rescue & Emergency Medical Service Incident 88 564 620
    322-324:  Motor Vehicle Accidents
    352: Extrications from Vehicles 312
    300, 351, 353-381: Rescues 82422
400: Hazardous Condition (No Fire) 71021
500: Service Call 242716
600: Good Intent Call 49152131
700: False Alarm & False Call 31121
800: Severe Weather & Natural Disaster
900: Special Incident Type0146
EMS-BLS Response Calls 731223
EMS-ALS Response Calls1106
How many times did your organization receive Mutual Aid148279
How many times did your organization receive Automatic Aid
How many times did your organization provide Mutual Aid
How many times did your organization provide Automatic Aid
What is the total acreage of all vegetation fires?
Of Mutual and Automatic Aid responses, how many were structure fires?

Fire Department Logo

Each part of the logo has its significant both historical and traditional. To understand our logo, we must first dicuss the maltese cross.

History of the Maltese Cross

The Maltese Cross is actually a symbol of the Christian warrior since the First Crusade (below right). It is in the form of four "V" shaped arms joined together at their bases, so that each arm has two points, and the cross has eight points in all.

Maltese Cross
From the days of the first crusade, the cross has been the symbol of the Christian warrior who pledged not only to fight in defense of the Holy Land, but also to protect the lives of his compatriots. The Maltese Cross now worn by modern firefighters is actually an adaptation of a particular crusader insignia, the Cross of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem.

The Knights, one of the oldest orders of warrior monks that fought for Christendom, took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Also known as Hospitallers, the monks maintained a hospital for pilgrims in Jerusalem. Then that city became the centre of the crusade-embattled lands, the brothers militarized their order, but continued to protect pilgrims and extend their charity to the sick and poor.

Knight Hospitallers
Because of the extensive armor that covered their bodies and faces, the Knights were unable to distinguish friend from foe in battle, so the need for an identifiable emblem for the Knights became crucial. Since they fought their battles for a holy cause, they chose the Cross of Calvary, a white or silver cross on a dark background. After the fall of Jerusalem in 1187, the Knights of St. John moved to the island of Malta.

During the crusades, many Knights became firefighters out of necessity. Their enemies had resorted to throwing bombs and sailing war vessels containing naphtha. Hundreds of Knights were burned alive. Others risked their lives to save their brothers in arms from dying painful fiery deaths.

Thus these men became our first firefighters and the first of a long list of courageous firefighters. Their heroic efforts were recognized by fellow Crusaders who awarded each hero a Badge of Honor; a cross similar to the one firefighters wear today.

The Maltese Cross is a symbol of protection. It means that the firefighter who wears this cross is willing to lay down his/her life for you, just as Crusaders sacrificed their lives for their fellow man so may years ago.

The cross used as the symbol of various Fire Services in the United States are often referred to as Maltese Cross, although this is strictly speaking incorrect. The NNFD logo, and well as many other fire department's logos, are merely an evolved form of the maltese cross, although we refer it to as a maltese cross. Fire departments throughout the United States use the maltese cross for their logos because it symbolizes unselfishness, charity, compassion, self sacrifice, bravery, and a brotherhood.

The Navajo Nation Fire Department logo is an adaptation of the maltese cross and the Great Seal of the Navajo Nation(Left)

Great Seal of the Navajo Nation

In the Navajo Nation Fire Department's logo there are 24 arrowheads that symbolizes that the department will respond and protect 24-hours a day. The arrowhead idea was taken from the Great Seal of the Navajo Nation that possess fifty (50) arrowheads representing protection from the 50 states.

Just like the Great Seal of the Navajo Nation, there are three colored lines that are open at the top. These lines are red, yellow and blue and represent a protective rainbow. The opening at the top of the three concentric lines is considered east and represents the sovereignty of the Navajo Nation.

The ladder, helmet, ax and pike pole are everyday tools the fire department use to perform their services to protect the Nation, its people and visitors.

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