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When seconds count: TV station looks at mutual aid agreements after closest company didn't respond for woman trapped in burning home. Chiefs defend system that keeps resources at home.

 

In Colorado, a Denver TV station is looking closely at mutual aid agreements telling the public that the closest fire company may not respond in a life and death emergency when seconds count. KDVR-TV explains to the public the difference between automatic aid and mutual aid following an incident where a woman in the Golden Heights area of Golden called 911 saying she was trapped in the basement of her burning home.

West Metro Fire Station 6 is less than a mile away from the home. According to the TV station, firefighters from that station told West Metro not to respond to the emergency. The mutual aid agreement between the two departments requires a firefighter on the scene confirming there is a fire and the request has to be approved by a chief, a captain or lieutenant.

KDVR-TV reports Golden firefighters arrived in about eight minutes from stations 4.2 and 7.2 miles away. The woman’s husband apparently made the save before firefighters were on the scene.

Similar mutual aid agreements are in effect throughout the area. But the chief of the Cunningham Fire Department believes in automatic aid and has such agreements in place with Aurora Fire and South Metro. Here’s more from the station’s report

Response time is the most important thing for the citizen,” Cunningham Fire Chief Jerry Rhodes told FOX 31. “Citizens don’t care what the name is on the side when their house is on fire. They want firefighters there in a hurry.”

Chief Rhodes thinks the closest fire department should respond no matter which district it’s in. He believes the community would be better served if all the metro area fire stations with a mutual aid system switched to an “auto aid agreement,” which means the closest fire department is automatically called.

But Denver Fire, West Metro Fire, and many other large fire departments defend the mutual aid agreement saying auto aid would take resources away from their cities and from the taxpayers who pay for fire protection.

“We have to be available for our citizens, not that we would ever turn down a request for mutual aid, but we don’t want have it to where it’s just an automatic,” West Metro Chief Doug McBee explained.

Golden’s Fire Chief also stands by the mutual aid system. He would not agree to an on camera interview, but sent us a statement which states, in part:

After reviewing response times for the (Golden Heights) incident, Golden Fire Department has directed a dispatch/response change…to include West Metro in the initial call for personnel. It states, On any reported structure fire in the Golden Heights area…Golden Dispatch shall immediately notify West Metro Dispatch…and…Pleasant View (Fire) to respond immediately after toning Golden Fire.

Comments - Add Yours

  • Anonymous

    This is far too common. It borders criminal negligence.

  • EdG

    This is nothing new – just look at the mid-Atlantic. Does Philadelphia or Baltimore or Washington or Richmond or FDNY run the closest apparatus, regardless of the jurisdiction? And it gets worse when it goes to multiple alarms – rarely do surrounding jurisdictions even get notified till at least 3rd alarm or more.
    Best example is the DC subway accident a few years ago – do a response time chart for all the DC apparatus and then see how much more could have come from Montgomery and PG (they had units there but nowhere near the number of DC units). Fire chiefs can give speaches, write articles and talk about how progressive they are but we still have extremly archiac practices in place that are true sacred cows. One of these days, we are going to have citizens really understand what’s going on and only then will we see changes.

    • dave statter

      Northern Virginia blazed the trail in the 70s with the NOVA boxes. With the exception of Baltimore City and Washington, DC, automatic aid is essentially the rule in the region.

      Statter

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  • Mark Pellini

    Maybe the Denve and the area FD should look and the state of Illinois and Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) I am on a IL Fire Dept and we use mabas and it works great we have auto aid and diffrent box levels and bring close and rapid help and also bring farther out Depts to move up to cover our station while we are on calls look at http://www.mabas.org

  • Sean C

    Same type of thing going on in Tucson, imaginary political lines that will make the public pay the ultimate price. This happens far more often than is reported in the media.

  • Anonymous

    To whom this may concern,

    I was a volunteer fire chief for 11 years in York County, Pennslyvania and can advise you that it is this way in our area. I can guarentee that this issue is probably this way in 90% of the United States. It has nothing to do with tax payers getting the coverage that their taxes are paid for, it has to do with whose in charge of what area and has command of what incident. This not just falls on the individual fire companies but the people that are elected officials in those municipalities. Those elected people only want to be bother with one fire company when it comes to meetings and do not want to take that time to split their taxes dollars to the multiple fire companies that would cover their area. It is this way in emergency medical services also.

  • I am sure Chief Khan could share some success stories for you to

    The north side hasn’t commented on an issue in a long while. When I read stories such as this it reminds me of the old fire department saying, QUOTE “100 years of tradition unimpeded by progress”. It really highlights poor leadership and being in tune with today’s reality and vision.

    The poster who says Mr.Mrs.Smith don’t really care if XYZ or ZWY department shows up to their emergency is right on. The longer the selfishness exists, we only go when its Mutual Aid and we “get called” crap exists needs to be done away with. Departments who cannot adapt to today’s reality and have a complete vision of the way of the future will become obsolete. With all the angst,cutting fire stations,personnel,decimating budgets going on in the US these days one wonders why this mindset is still around. Better look after your main customer or when it comes time to look after you?

    The Chief’s concern about his resources being unavailable to respond to their own makes me wonder. Come on people to send the station that was the closest!!!!! even if it had an engine,aerial,rescue,batt chief its but ‘one” station right. Even if it was critical just send the closest engine alone, the department that owned the call was in at 4.2 miles to backup, take over etc.

    MABAS in the Illinois region was mentioned, a truly effective and successful model. Over the course of a year almost want to bet it evens out or its close, firefighters don’t care, they want to make the grab, its what its all about. Here the citizen makes the grab, how sad does the FD look, isn’t it our job to look after?.

    To the greater Denver area departments, the greater Phoenix area in Maricopa County has an excellent model for implementation for you to follow, and if taken to heart we wouldn’t read stories like this. Its worked there for many a year, amazing if one broadens there horizons. Get it done.

    I am very passionate about this issue of Mutual Aid versus Automatic Aid and it comes from a very painful and trying experience. In my home province right now the Insurance industry has caught on that the closest fire department isn’t necessarily dispatched on a structural fire call. As such they are the ultimate risk managers, they set insurance rates, peril deductibles etc and have now decided to look at how to reduce their losses. Anyone listening?????, while that fire engine sits a block over the line in another municipality. We have just completed a proximity survey indicating what can be responded to within 8 minutes of dispatch from our stations. Guess what was discovered, we can reach our sister departments two new housing developments quicker than they can, at the end of our running district they can be first in faster than us.

    Before we are even mandated to do so, we have had in place a comprehensive Automatic Aid policy already. When the 911 call comes in,its a structure fire we all go!!!! If its nothing and one department can handle, the others canceled. For the Chief in Colorado worrying about his resources, our score for the year 2010, we responded AA four times to them, they once to us. Customer satisfaction, 3 letters of thanks for the great job and no one in the news for “bad reasons”. Works for me.

    The Chief and Department being criticized, you earned it, deal with the press, don’t hide behind a sent in letter. Dave they are probably not reading Statter911 anyways but what the heck, over the past while you have given us some great learning tools and articles. I’m one who is listening. Thanks.

    Chief Out

  • Randy

    I have been in the Fire Service for over 20 years 4 of those in the Golden area, I can tell you by EXPERIENCE that some of these fire departments have an attitude that it’s “their” fire district and they DO NOT want another fire department puting out “their” fire even if the “other department” is only blocks away, its a sad game of its OUR fire and we don’t need any other department’s help, this is very true, iv’e lived it and experienced it and heard it said.

  • freddy firemen

    We had a similar system here in NW Pa until two very public fatal fires back in the 80s. In one fire, 8 kids and a grandmother died while a paid department was near by but not allowed to respond because it was outside the city….by about 115 feet. In the 2nd call a small child died in a fire where the nearest station(career) was not dispatched because the scene was in the volunteer area of the county. Thank God that our EMA took over dispatch and changed all that.

  • Pipeman

    It has a lot to do with being able to guarantee staffing levels on apparatus. In some larger cities, showing up with 2 on anything just aint gonna cut it. Its great driving that nice shiny new engine to the big city fire, but whats on it is what counts.

  • Tree

    Auto-aid is the rule in northern New York, not the exception. There’s always a little pride involved, but nobody told me to move our engine a few months ago when we were first in on a neighboring department’s incident. We stretched lines and went to work.

    I’m sure the shoe will be on the other foot at some point in the future.

  • Play4keeps

    Of all the issues in the fire service, career vs volly, accountability or the specter thereof, debate of tactics, THIS IS THE BIGGEST and most important. It goes to the heart of the what is wrong with the US Fire Service. All sort of excuses are used to void the rational for automatic dispatch – they don’t have the training, they run with less men, they are “cowboy’s.”

    And the biggest fake out of all is NFPA 1710, IN SOME CASES. It is used as an excuse by the IAFF all too often. Call it like I see it.

    In reality, the reasons are political and the systemic failure of the local governments and the respective jurisdictions to think in the 21st Century. Why is this the root of all problems?

    1. Failure to consolidate or merge departments. Some places have so many independent volly fire company’s, it’s ridiculous. Little fifdoms where the public has no power to push the consolidation for efficiency’s sake.

    2. Unions. Then there is the IAFF game which tends to cut the throat of the fire service as a whole. Fear of closing companies and stopping callbacks. The reality is they don’t want vollies coming into town, most of the time. How about waiting until callbacks until calling a mutual aid dept. Happens all over New england.

    Some times it’s the other way around and the vollies don’t want the City Dept to come in because they will be “beaten in.”

    That stupid mentality about being “beaten in.” I thought it was about making a grab and putting wet stuff on the red stuff. If the other dept does it before me, maybe I need to think about the public and even considering a consolidation of fire stations. Usually, though the fire stations get built on top of another.

    3. Capability in search of need. Compare a county that has 46 rescue tools, and 15 heavy rescues and 500,000 people to a county that has about 12 rescue tools, 6 heavy rescues, a population of a million and a larger area to cover. It’s hard to quantify experience level but I am certain which place will cut you out faster and a better deal for the taxpayer and not into all the vendors pocket. Don’t even get started with ladder trucks. Rather than call the company down the street, a new apartment complex gets built, and all of a sudden, “we need a million dollar ladder truck!”

    4. Not enough places getting sued and insurance rates not increased because of the lack of a 21st century mutual/auto aid agreement. Eventually, they will…at the cost of lives and insurance premiums.

    There is so much variability in the US on this issue. Some places are benchmarked to a best practice and flawless, like the Counties OUTSIDE of DC and MBAS. Some places have good run cards, but can’t seem to get consolidated and start building substations to “grow” and get the illusion that they have better response (PA).

  • Retired Chief

    Colorado just does not get it. How do I know, I was introduced into the Fire Service where my father was a Chief Officer in PG back in the 50s and 60s. I wore the white leather helmet in MC in the 70s then took a Chief Officer position in Colorado in the 80s. Having fought fires back east where units from three different counties operated and we all acted as one. Sure we had our issues ,but automatic aid was a way of life. In fact we did not call it Automatic Aid, it was normal SOP, then the move west.

    In Colorado, I frequently see units from various Departments / Districts respond past other stations from other jurisdictions due to the lack of automatic aid. When I say frequently, I mean daily. This issue is not with the front line Fire Fighters, but with local governmental officials, be it either City Council or Fire District Board.

    Over the past many years I discussed this issue many in the Fire Service. Below are some of the “excuses” I have heard.

    •The Career vs. Volunteer issue frequently comes up. Having been on both sides of this issue I can understand their thinking. But the day I went from being a Volunteer Fire Fighter to a Career Fire Fighter I was not a better person. Fact was I fought more fire, was provided more training and had more opportunities as a Volunteer than during my first five years as a Career Fire Fighter. There are good and bad of both.

    •Staffing is usually the second issue. Why should my department send an Engine with four Fire Fighters when we receive a Engine with three in return. If that Engine with three can arrive 5 to 8 minutes earlier, this should have a positive effect the outcome of the incident. (I am a strong proponent of a minimum of 4 on an Engine, Truck or Heavy Rescue.)

    •Protecting my City / District; the Taxpayer issue is what I hear from elected officials. They want their tax money staying in their City or District, not responding over the jurisdictional boundaries. I was once advised by a Board Member that I could not take my buggy across the street (another jurisdiction) to have lunch at a restaurant because he did not want to see me spending my money in another Fire District’s area.

    •SOPs are always a good topic. Whatever department you are with or raised in, you believe your way is the best. We could discuss East Coast vs. West Coast SOPs for the next 100 years and not agree. But there is no reason local departments should not get together and work this out for the sake of the public.

    •Finally – CONSOLIDATION is not a bad word. Weather it is operational or a total top to bottom consolidation. Put your pride aside and provide the best possible service to your public. In all my years in the Fire Service I was never asked what Department I was from when arriving on the scene of an emergency.

    Not all is bad in Metro Denver. South and West of the city, Fire Department have lead the way, merged and provide a quality service. This is a prime example of putting your pride aside and placing the public’s needs first. Over a few years Denver Fire has taken over response to three non-city jurisdictions.

    It is time for the area north of Denver to take a serious looks at some type of operational consolidation. When it is my home, I could care less what color the fire truck is, get here quick, safely and get to work.

    Be Safe and Go Home…

  • Robert Kramer

    Yep, everyone would love to live outside of town, not pay taxes, and get the same resources as the taxpayers in the town.

    You get what you pay for. There are no free rides.

  • north chief

    Colorado is still way behind the curve in fire protection. There are still areas that are called unincorporated areas of a county that are not in the jurisdiction of any fire district or city. They are under the control of the county sheriff who is only reponsible for wildland fires and has no fire equipment. Structure fires in these areas depend upon the generosity of the closest department , no one is required to respond.

  • CHarlie the cop.

    WAA WAA WAA….How bout them cops…nobody seems to raise all this huge bitchin about cops. They stay in their jurisdictions and thats it…period. ANd the closest cop thing happens every minute in this country. Fix that first and maybe fire will follow suit later. Theres people gettin robbed, raped, carjacked and murdered while there are closer cops doing their job for their bosses in their own taxpayer area.
    It’s all about money and thats the bottom line. Don’t blame the dispatch procedures, blame the home town who’s too cheap to build a firestation that is close to all their residences.

    If you guys aren’t complaining, you’re not happy. Thats what seperates cops from firepeoples.

  • JV

    Robert Kramer nailed it. Every discussion here on fire districting/consolidation/auto aid revolves around politicians demanding equal payment. I agree with them to a point. City X doesn’t want to pay to support their FD, why should we subsidize them? We paid Y for this ladder truck, why is it going on more mutual aid calls then in district?

    The answer is a county of district FD. But even then, the richer communities are subsidizing the ghetto portions of the community. Our county seat is almost bankrupt, with almost 50% of their property tax exempt-government buildings, churches, etc. The rest is low income. None of the surrounding communities want anything to do with taking on their run load, because it won’t pay for itself.

  • oldhead

    Right. Some of the HAPPIEST people I know are cops! I guess that’s why so many fire peoples switch over to the cop peoples jobs…

  • Anonymous

    In reading the comments there seems to be a far reaching reason/excuse for not allowing the closes available Fire & EMS Resources to Respond. The opinions of the respective Chiefs are valid and make some rationale as to their position. I would like to offer a scario which is today realistic. There was mention DCFD not utilizing Mutual Aid Resources. During the 1968 Riots DCFD did in fact ustilize Resources from surrounding jurisdictions. January 13 1982 Air Florida 90 Crash and Metro Derailment and crash there was Mutual Aid from Maryland and Northern Virginia Resources. The Metro Crash June 2009 DCFD immediately initiated a “mass casulaty Incident” The DCFD Resources handled their job with a great deal Professionalism. Yes in the early evening there were resources
    from Other surrounding jurisdictions. In today’s society there is an enormous increase of populated areas which over whelm existing Resources. This brings about Mutual Aid. The Washington area Mertopolitan Council of Governments has in place the need and Mutual Aid responses for all jurisdictions.
    COG has a Public Safety component which allows for each jurisdiction to adhere to responsible Mutual Aid concepts. ie; Keeping Response Times to the same or as close to normal Response Times. Apparatus Transfers are in place to ensure this. The bottom line every Fire Dept, Local Fire Chief anywhere should be Nation wide understands and realizes the absolute critical need for Mutual Aid. The issue given about Colorado is an absolute shameful disgrace to everything the Fire and EMS Core Values represent. The citizen in Colorado dialed the Fire Dept. (hopefully 911 in place) reporting a basement fire in her structure. The Local Fire Chief says no the closes unit response. he should either receive some sort
    of Monetary Disciplinary Action, or be Dismissed as Chief. What would that Chief say if his Personnel (IAFF) responded and encountered a “May Day May Day Dreaded Call”? Mutual Aid resources available not allowed to respond. This speaks of IAFF intervention. Ok the Mutual Aid Resources are Volunteer. There is TRAINING for everyone in the Fire/EMS Service. If need be that Fire Chief perhaps could make a stance where he requires and expects Mutual Aid Resources to maintain the highest Level of Basic Body of Knowledge in Training requirements. The IAFF could also play an important role in speaking with the Local Fire Chief to the desired requirements for everyone. The Local Governing Administration has an obligation to mandate a needed Mutual Aid Agreement either within Local County/State or other bordering Resources in another state. All 911 calls are unpredictable as everyone knows. At any time a 911 call comes in Baby Stopped Breathing, Structure Fire with possible entrapment. A Senior Citizen needing assistance. One thing is for certain everywhere in any jurisdiction, Urban/Metropolitan, Suburban, and yes even in unincorporated areas, “THE FIRE AND EMS SERVICE, CANNOT/MUSTNOT
    PICK AND CHOOSE WHO RESPONDS OR NOT” This is Basic Fire Fighter
    Safety. The National Fallen Firefighter (NFFF) Safety Measures
    speaks volumes and exemplifys “EVERYONE GOES HOME”

    Thank You

  • Play4keeps

    Kramer and the cop don’t get it and probably never will. Some of us do it because we love the work and DON’T consider the mentality of the politicians and the beancounters who are not in the service and, in fact, can be influenced with smart leadership and reasoning. Unfortuantely, most have this mentality of “my equipment only protects my town; let the other guys pay for their own stuff.” This is not the mentality of a true fireman, nor of a 21st century fire service manager. It’s that these guys have never worked, vollied, or are knowledgeable about places that run SUPERIOR. You only know, what you know. That’s the saying, right?

    It is the mentality of mediocracy.

    As for the police/local law enforcement. ” It’s all about money and thats the bottom line.” Huh?Well, the ten of thousands of small police depts, spotted across the US is just as bad, if not worse, then what’ going on in the fire service. Law enforcement has always been fragmented in this Country (and in need of unification) but regardless, policing is a different business than the deployment of resources for firefighting.

  • No.1 Virginia Statter Fan

    There are some really good posts here and some are long in length and thought! I am glad I work for a internationaly accredidated, Class I department whose operational philosphy is that we help people, whether they are in the city limits or if they are 25′ across the city/county line. My volunteer fire department in Virginia is the same way, if you call us, we are gonna help ya, we will worry about boundries later. Firemen are supposed to help people and look after one another. That is what this job is all about.

  • Management Mark

    None of you are management quality or intelligence. WHen your municipality lays you off cause they don’t have enough money cause they’re replacing that $900,000.00 ladder truck every 3 years instead of every 6 years cause you respond over to Podunksville 3 times a day, and now you ran out of money, then I can hear your union screamin bloody murder.
    Let me ask all you alturuistic firemen, I’m sure you want to run on the structure fire, but what abhout that QRS call for a sprained ankle in Podunksville? ARe you gonna run that CLosest Fire COmpany over there. Well now it seems like you are picking and choosing your calls—obviously you’re not doing it in the spirit of firemen helping everyone now does it.
    Guess what…now the lawyers will have a field day with you in court. That old lady died on scene cause that ciuvilian who called it in thought she sprained her ankle and fell down, she fell down cause she was having an MI.
    This is why you people aren’t management material…you fail to see the big picture and fail to protect your taxpayers from unneccesary litigation by wanting to pad your run totals so you can keep your jobs.

  • NJ FF

    We don’t pull that stuff in NJ. We all solved that problem years ago. Unless anyone on here from NJ cares to say otherwise. I know it is not that way in my county.

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Management Mark has zero logic in his/ her post.

    How can you be padding run totals (larger budget) and complaining about responding to Podunksville for bs (wear and tear)? Maybe that’s the logic of where he lives, but what he is stating is a different problem about the kind of calls the fire service responds to. That’s why it’s called an automatic/mutual aid AGREEMENT. If organizations can’t come to a rational AGREEMENT that doesn’t involve running a $900K ladder to QRS or AFA, then someone is mentally deficient (I can say that, right, Dave).

    Eventually, this small minded mentality will pass. The closest company will respond, consolidation and efficiency will happen, career and volly departments will put their difference aside and we can all serve and protect like we are trained to. Well, maybe I’m dreaming….

  • oldhead

    And you management mark are nothing more than a desk jockey, bean counting moron. Please stay in management, you are an idiot. The jurisdictions that have automatic aid as opposed to straight mutual aid send the closest appropriate unit on EVERY call, not just fire calls. Take your head out of your managerial ass and look around. We may be called the fire department, but we do a lot more than just go to fires and you can bet that the participants in automatic aid have consulted each others lawyers and are not picking and choosing which calls they respond to. Sheesh.

  • ScienceOfFire

    The closest unit shouldn’t go if it would cause less harm to send a further one.

    Maybe the fire department shouldn’t send a fire engine that is 1/2 mile closer than a medic unit. If the medic unit is “close enough” based on *science*, then the people of that area shouldn’t be deprived of fire protection because one person feels a little tight in the chest. For EMS “close enough” is 240 seconds drive time for the first responder, and 480 seconds drive time for the ALS.

    Maybe ‘automatic aid’ shouldn’t be used when there’s a dispatch delay, or there are differences in tactics & training, or staffing levels. How close does a 3 person truck have to be to be better than a 4 person truck?

    Maybe ‘automatic aid’ shouldn’t be used when it’s for a later-due company. If the 4th closest engine is 15 minutes away in another jurisdictioin, and the 5th closest engine is 17 minutes away *within* jurisdiction, it may make more sense to send the within jurisdiction unit.

    All that being said, it would be hard to defend the practice not sending the closest unit to a house fire, just because there’s a jurisdictional boundary in the way. If they’re understaffed, they may have to be augmented by a later arriving company.

    If departments measured and published their 1710 response times, the taxpaying public could weigh in on the practice.

  • Management Mark

    Scienceoffire you are management materiel…you think with your head not with your ego or heart.

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Management Mark, I must in all good conscious disagree with you. Read your words. To begin with, Mutual Aid is an automatic Resource (s), which are/should be maximized by all
    Fire/EMS Organizations. As everyone knows 911 calls are unpredictable, and must be handled in such a wy as to provide
    the best level of professionalism. Ok a call comes in for an ALS Incient; Heart Attack, COPD, Trouble Breathing etc. The closes Response unit is perhaps a BLS unit. The closes ALS unit is some distance either from within said jurisdiction or across Jurisdictional Boundaries. This is what automatic Mutual Aid Response is all about. What is the first Training evolution taught/learned in EMT-B “4-6 minutes” Irreversible Brain Damage. What is wrong with you? The initial responding BLS Unit can provide BLS Intervention while the Medic Unit is on the way. If need be the BLS Unit can begin Transport to a rendezvous location with the Medic unit, this of course is based upon if the Hospital is closer than the Responding Medic Unit. If the 911 Emergency is a Structure Fire, with information received possible entrapment why then would not, the initial closes response inclusive of Mutual Aid Responding units. The Colorado issue here speaks volumes of an “US and THEM, WE and THEY TURF WAR”. This is unacceptable in any locale. What the message is here Deny the Taxpayers of Emergency Response assistance. The IAFF needs to step up to the plate along with the Fire Chief and all interested parties
    to present a workable/reasonable proposal to the Local Political Administration for enacting Legislation to the effect of a Guarantee solid Policy Governing the Automatic Mutual Aid Response with Safety to the Citizens and the Firefighters/Rescuers. “Where are The Priorities”?

    Mr Management Mark, Again I ask What is Wrong with You?

    Thank You

  • Management Mark

    There is nothing wrong with me. As an elected official, my priority is what is BEST for MY towns taxpayers. That is what I am elected to do.
    So if my $900,000.00 ladder truck with 4 of my highly paid firefighters are over in your town (Poduncsville) helping little grandma Mary who has fallen and can’t get up. What do I tell my taxpayer in my town, when it took our 2nd due ladder 12 minutes to get to their house when it was on fire. Our 1st due ladder would have been there 1st due had it been in OUR TOWN!!

    If you want better service, PAY HIGHER TAXES LIKE WE DO!!

    Our Tax dollars are not spent to take care of your town 1st due. PERIOD. WHat part of that don’t YOU get.

    DO you want my plow truck and salt truck to plow your town too because our City Streets garage is closer to some parts of your town??

    Do you want our full time Police Department to respond to your towns calls for help, because you have coverage from the STate Police who are 15 minutes away????

    Bottom line is pay taxes to your town for better services PERIOD!!

    You and people like you perpetuate the “WELFARE MENTALITY” prevelant in this country.

  • I see the light

    Like it or not, management Mike makes valid points. A town has absolutely no responsibility to provide 1st due service to another community. Either band together and get the COunty to start a county fire department or don’t complain just get your own towns resources in order to provide service to your taxpayer. If not where does it stop?

  • Steve in NJ

    NJ FF, don’t know what county you are in but in the tow counties I have worked in: (The names have been changed to protect the guilty) The volunteer chief of the “XYZ” City Fire Dept doesn’t want the “paid guys” from the “ABC” Township Fire District beating them to their fires and putting them out before they get there so he has them removed from his box alarm card. Example 2: (don’t want to make it sound like I am picking on the volunteers) the Mayor of town “X” with a paid Fire Department doesn’t want his “paid guys” going to fires in the neighboring town with an all volunteer department because, “why should my tax payers foot the bill for fire protection in the next town. If they want paid firefighters in their town they should hire their own.” Trust me, New Jersey is NOT at all the role model of anything fire service related. If the Fire Service was a comedy club then New Jersey is like the guy that gets booed off the stage on open mic night

  • From the outside looking in

    Just wanted to add a some food for thought from the other side of the world. In Australia our fire service is mostly run at a STATE level, with a few separate large city brigades. Take a look at the largest volunteer fire department in the world, 70,000 volunteers, the Rural Fire Service in the state of New South Wales. There are no such terms such as mutual aid, or automatic aid, or even fire ‘district’ as such. Political boundary’s practically do not exist. Closest unit(s) goes. And that doesn’t just mean geographically, it means response time. With top level management at a higher level than local government, ego’s, personalities and opinions have absolutely no bearing on the level of service that the public receives. It is equal everywhere. (As is training, equipment, support and funding).Career vs volly issues exist but have no bearing on response levels. Specific local needs can still be met, but never at the expense of anything else.
    In my opinion the US public as a whole could be better served if essential services like fire, police and ems were managed at a much higher level than local government. County departments are a good start, but still not thinking big enough. It seems to me that there are big cultural differences between Australia and the US which contribute to the way things are, but that should not mean that one couldn’t learn from the other and make improvements if they are there to be made. There are many aspects of fire fighting in the USA that I would love to bring back here to improve our service too.

  • play4keeps

    Agreemetns stipulate the type of response and dispatch policy for each jurisdiction. MM is probably relating the situation for which he/she is familiar with and not typically a best practice. I am not going to refute the logic in sending a ladder truck or even an engine to BLS, which has become prevalent in a lot of jurisdictions as a first response piece.

    I can appreciate someone like Management Mark posting on here. He/she is not a firefighter but shows a different view, albiet a with self-righteous and condesending tone – Perpetuating the “WELFARE MENTALITY, by responding to a neighboring jurisdiction to save life and property. Give me a break. Then I say you are, UN-AMERICAN.

    Quote, “What do I tell my taxpayer in my town, when it took our 2nd due ladder 12 minutes to get to their house when it was on fire. Our 1st due ladder would have been there 1st due had it been in OUR TOWN!!”

    Hopefully, the agreement was done smartly to avoid the situation in the first place (BLS response with a $900K fire truck and the full complement of paid guys during a daytime response). However, I think Mr MM is exaggerating, and on the rare time there is a call and the firehouse is responding to a neighboring town, you tell your taxpayers that they were saving someone’s life and that the neighboring company responds into our town when needed.

    Usually, the problem is with the towns and the system of government in the first place. Commonweaths where the decision making process usually falls on the lowest local level. A piss poor way to evolve a fire and EMS. Firehouses on top of another. Vendors getting rich by selling equipment that is rarely used and an equivalent piece down the road. It goes on and on.

    South of the Mason-Dixon, we have the career vs volly nonsense. But we sure do repond better between jurisdictions. Automatic transfers and move ups. Consolidated dispatching. Standardized box alarm assignments. Like I said, I think it fine that someone like MM posts, but if he really wants to make a difference to his taxpayers, he should evaluate better solutions.

  • Chief 62

    Way back at the beginning of this story, if I as MANAGEMENT (5 bugles) have this correct, we had a breaking story of a lady trapped in a structure at a live working fire? This lady lived lets say, 1 mile from the next Departments station bordering her own community. The Departments have indeed a Mutual Aid agreement already in place, the fundamental flaw that existed was a senior officer had to okay the response after proper notification assistance was required, just the reported facts!. Had this caveat not been in place and some advanced thinking, ie leadership in the 21st century was employed the closest ENGINE only could have been sent to initiate attack procedures just down the block?. The better approach would be to have the elected officials of the world sitting down and working out a comprehensive Automatic Aid policy ensuring this never happened in the first place.

    Now, in addition to the 5 bugles, I also serve as the Deputy Coordinator of a Mutual Aid District comprised of thirteen departments, one is not the same as the other. Mutual Aid is agreed upon as sharing of resources when called upon using pre-determined allocation of equipment and resources on some form of running orders and assignments that are pre-existing
    It is not Automatic Aid, the biggest difference is that one needs to be requested, the latter is assigned at the time of 911, based on call taker information, location,station proximity and what the level of emergency is. We here, in my part of Canada choose to provide the service at the time of dispatch, thus no delays in actually responding such as occurred in this unfortunate case, as I said before all equipment is going automatically, not required we shut it down. We then worry about the other stuff after the immediate crisis is over. If you guys are wearing out 900,000 ladder trucks responding to medical calls perhaps you need look at the usefulness of that approach, a one ton squad truck might be more practical, you think?

    This in itself has zero bearing on a structure fire with entrapment reported. As a big city career person I fail to understand the position of my two colleagues from the Metro Denver area, they would be short changed equipment?? excuse me but I follow the blogs quite regularly and I do not believe Denver has come anywhere close to burning down as of late.

    It is interesting to note after the firestorm and the resulting news coverage and subsequent bad feelings how quickly the maligned department’s policy has been changed. The only real positive here was how fortunate it was the husband was able to rescue his wife. I ask what is wrong with this picture guys?.

    I give credit to the change that has come about after a near tragedy.The issue for all to remember was not the “other” department was going to be out response capability for its own area, it was that the agreement that existed was flawed!!, and in the end nearly resulted in a fatality. It wasn’t about you sending your 900,000 ladder truck into their area leaving me without mine crap, nor was the issue of you paying to provide service to them and them getting a free ride.

    I leave you with this thought, eventually the insurance industry in the USA may catch on and start the desired overhaul procedures to accomplish what the fire service, and elected officials as a whole has not. That the closest fire station/apparatus respond period. Food for thought, next time your visiting another community far away from home and you need 911?.

    I am extremely fortunate that I live in a progressive, enlightened and forward thinking community and MAD, whereby we all share the mission of the fire service equally and that we value human life. I get up everyday and love my job, that the only time my staff are in the press is for positive things, yes life is pretty good. Stay Safe, Work Smart,Retire, Enjoy Life.

    Chief out

  • Retired Chief

    Chief 62 is 100% correct, Denver and metro Denver is not in the fire belt and they do send a $900K Truck/Tower on EMS runs etc. This is not PG or Detroit. Days go by without a working fire. One could argue about the numerous “Elevator Rescue” calls in Metro Denver that have a Engine, Truck, Chief and maybe the Rescue being dispatch. Not to mention the numerous “Lockouts, Lift Assist or Water Problems” that are run. What if there was a fire in their first due when they are out for the third time today to unlock a car’s door. We can “What if” all day long. The issue here is we had a known working fire with a person trapped. Now the department in question has corrected this issue, and they deserve credit for addressing the issue.
    But this is just one department and one issue. It is time for the north of Denver area to go to a Consolidated Dispatch and Response. Within 3 miles of my residence there are 9 separate Fire Departments/ Districts and one Ambulance District. They all dispatch independently. If large Departments like DCFD, PGFD, Denver Fire and others can dispatch over 30 to 40 stations on one channel so can north metro Denver area.
    The challenge is for the Fire Chiefs to come together and make this happen. Keep your Department’s identity in tack, keep your separate colors and design on your rigs, keep your titles but respond as one from an operational standpoint. Pride is a good thing unless it gets in the way of progress.
    Be Safe and go home every day…

  • chiefbobr

    Automatic aid as opposed to mutual aid? Here’s what the bottom line is, at least in my opinion: automatic aid should be just that – automatic: period. During the course of my career, I served as Fire Chief for 4 different communities in 4 different states. In each of those communities I was successful in implementing some form of an automatic aid system, all of which worked pretty well. In fact, the biggest challenges that I dealt with in implementing automatic aid were with a few dinosaurs in my own organization, and by ‘dinosaurs’ I’m not referring to the chronological years of the dissident. In fact,I have heard several 20-somethings complaining that ‘we should be able to handle all of our own calls without calling for help’. When it was patiently explained to them that it didn’t have anything to do with our ability to handle a given incident but (rather) was a system that would guarantee that the person(s) who needed our services would always receive the closest available unit, the explantion seldom sufficed. Sometimes you just have to do the right thing, regardless of what your greatest critics might say. To me, it goes back to one of the the basic tests of an ethical decision: would you object to your decision being published on the front page of the local paper? Or a better question to ask might be: would
    you like your decison of NOT implementing an automatic aid program in your community published on the front page, especially right after one of your citizens just died in a fire, or possibly from a heart attack, when a unit from a neighboring community was closer to the scene and yet not called?

  • ukfbbuff

    I’m in agreement with those who find the current operating
    system as being deficient and NOT reflective of Modern Fire Service Organizational thinking.

    We’re not discussing being a “Mutual Aid Mooch” as Chief Harry Carter has written about, not about the pending fiasco between the City of Camden, N.J. and Philadelphia, Penn., on Mutual Aid, we’re talking abut an Automatic Aid/Response Plan between two or more seperate agencies, that can develop a re-payment schedule for jurisdictional equipment use at the end of the Fiscal or Calendar Year. That’s “Cost Recovery” in NIMMS.

    We’re almost four years past the Charleston, South Carolina, Sofa Super Store Fire and you would think after all of the voluminous research done including the Lack of Automatc Aid and
    Deficient Command Functions, you would think more departments would be more foward thinking.

    Also, since Denver and several surrounding FD’s are mentioned, my question is Why don’t they become a larger Condolidated FPD? Resolve the pension plan issues and move on to serving the taxpayers better at a cost savings.

  • Anonymous

    The comments seem to reflect the reasons for automatic Response. Yes as was stated earlier a $900,000 Ladder Truck handling a Routine Service Call to assist a citizen does appear to be far fetched. Why would the $900,000 be sent to handle that type call? Ok Jurisdictional Boundaries shouldnot/mustnot be a reason/or an excuse not to serve the public. With an automatic aid system in place, there are specific requirements that the Local Fire Chief and Governing Political Authorities must demand. (1) TRAINING by All Personnel. This would entail the Career training Standards be Adopted and mandated . Ok the Mutual Aid/Automatic Aid Companies are Volunteer this doesnot reflect any less of Trained Firefighters as the Career Personnel. The Jurisdiction
    with the Incident in Progress must determine how,much, type Apparatus is to be requested/sent. ie; One Engine from a Mutual Aid Station. In today’s Society who among us can Honestly say that an unforseen Disaster Type Incident, a normal
    Response ie; Structure fire only occurs in any specific large Municipality? Bottom Line Line with respect to Montgomery Mark,
    “Your $900,000 Ladder Truck and Highly salaried (IAFF) Firefighters just may be in such a May Day May Day Dreaded Call when/where the Volunteer Staffing Mutual Aid just may climb your $900,000 Ladder Truck and pull your Career Personnel out of a Burning Structure. It’s not Hypothetical, this is a real potential occurrance. Come on people get it Together. “EGOS and Dollar Signs, are not the issue here.
    “SAVING LIFE/ SERVING THE CITIZENS is what it is all about.
    NFFF Safety Measures, “Everyone is Professional doing the same
    job”. “EVERYONE GOES HOME”

    Thank You

  • TrainingChief

    This is unacceptable.  Auto-aid is a way to share resources and get the closet piece of equipment to the scene of an incident.  This really does not have anything to do with taxes.  This is the "it's my piece of the pie" syndrome.  Sad.