Mutual Aid Agreements Benefit Rural Fire Departments

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback


It's called mutual aid...or automatic aid.

It's how rural fire departments keep you safe and your insurance rates down.

With most volunteer fire departments, getting enough bodies on a scene is an ongoing issue.

Sometimes it's a lack of volunteers, many times it's conflicting work schedules or other reasons for being out of pocket.

At those times chiefs turn to other departments for help.

Jesse Montgomery is a former Chief of the Philadelphia Fire Department. He was up to his ears inside a pumper when I caught up with him. "

It's a lot easier to contact the nearest other department to assist when you get a good working fire when you need some help."

A house fire on County Road 780 was a prime example. Although it was in Brookland's area, Philadelphia and Southern Greene County responded with manpower and equipment.

Brookland Fire Chief, Steve Beck. "We brought in Philadelphia and South Greene Fire Department with 19 men and 6 trucks."

There are two basic types of assistance that can be used. One is called Mutual Aid.

Montgomery, "Mutual aid is primarily when a fire department gets called out on a call, they get on a scene and realize they need assistance."

Montgomery says there have been mutual aid agreements between rural Fire Departments since there have been rural Fire Departments.

David Moore, Craighead County OEM, "We've also got automatic mutual aid in some areas of the county. If any fire happens within these areas where they're both close by, both departments are automatically paged."

Philadelphia and Brookland have just such an arrangement. All mutual and automatic aid agreements are signed by all chiefs involved.

For the homeowner these agreements can help keep insurance premiums down. The Insurance Service Organization sets premiums.

Montgomery, "They look at the automatic aid and mutual aid agreements and that helps with your point system to improve your fire protection and your fire insurance rating."

Even though they primarily stay in their own neighborhoods. These volunteers can and will go where they are needed.

Montgomery, "We have mutual aid with all departments in Craighead county and were in the process of hoping to get it with some of the departments we border up in Greene county. "

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