Thread: Aid Agreements

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    Default Aid Agreements

    Since this involves volunteers, I will post my fustration here. My county is drafting a county-wide aid agreement for structure fires only. We have 3 paid volly depts. and 5 full vollies. We have 7 depts from neighboing counties involved as well. The hold up is one full volly doesn't want to help its closest neighbor (a paid volly) unless they get the same pay the paid vollies get, but they want a full response from the paid dept for a fire their area for free. Then on the other side of the county, my closest neighbor (one of the out of county depts) can't get past the point in the agreement about each dept must pay its own costs and cannot bill another dept. They want us to pay their costs for manpower and fuel, which by the way, is unlawful in my state as long as our dept responds. I have mentioned how we would provide much needed tankers to their rural fire calls free of charge and they act like they don't need any help ever. To them it's a one way street, I'm the one needing all of the help. My little dept averages 1 structure fire a year. That could have used my tankers on several occasions last year. My question is should a volunteer get paid when responding mutual aid to a paid dept's call and what do these departments not understand about mutual aid?

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    We give aid to our neighbors at no charge, just as they give aid to us at no charge. Its pretty simple here... You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.

    We have never had issues with someone not wanting to respond to help us, as we have never said no to helping someone else. Not to mention that we have a county wide mutual aid agreement. And we have even been sent to towns outside the county. A handshake and a "Thanks for coming" is more than enough.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tfpd109 View Post
    We give aid to our neighbors at no charge, just as they give aid to us at no charge. Its pretty simple here... You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.

    We have never had issues with someone not wanting to respond to help us, as we have never said no to helping someone else. Not to mention that we have a county wide mutual aid agreement. And we have even been sent to towns outside the county. A handshake and a "Thanks for coming" is more than enough.
    This is how we handle mutual aid in our coverage areas. There are no agreements between companies as far as I know, for mutual aid it's all put on our box cards up to and including a 5th alarm assignment along with Tanker Task Force. This is also how it works when we run mutual aid outside our primary response area.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tfpd109 View Post
    We give aid to our neighbors at no charge, just as they give aid to us at no charge. Its pretty simple here... You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.

    We have never had issues with someone not wanting to respond to help us, as we have never said no to helping someone else. Not to mention that we have a county wide mutual aid agreement. And we have even been sent to towns outside the county. A handshake and a "Thanks for coming" is more than enough.
    If they are truly "full Volunteers" and do not get paid normally, why would they think they deserve it going somewhere else? They are performing the same service, so why would the compensation be any different?

    As for the paid, it is called an "in kind service trade agreement". They will get the same service from you that they will be giving to you. There is no cost to either party as the services are generally considered to be of equal value. If they are bringing something special to the table (platform, technical rescue, hazmat) then that will have to be ironed out with the expectation of some sort of compensation. Around here, the departments offering the special services do so infrequently and are not asking for any compensation.

    Our county wide mutual aid agreement is for anything. It does not limit to structure fires, or fires of any sort. It could include basment pumping, searches, traffic control, EMS calls, and other sorts. We have gone to all of these.

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    Our mutual aid agreement is county-wide as well - no individual agreements.

    Occasionally the auto-aid and extra alarms get tweaked because of some peccadillo between departments, but there are no full-fledged feuds going on that I know of.

    As with HuntPA's area, the mutual aid includes all responses, and dispatch will usually automatically page out the next closest department if the home department doesn't answer up in a timely matter (or at all) or is tied up on another incident.

    While it's been known for the requesting department to provide fuel at larger incidents, normal costs are covered by the responding departments, not the requesting department.

    We all carry mutual aid insurance, however. If a mutual aid department loses a piece of apparatus (mech failure, etc) while responding to our request for assistance, our insurance will cover it.

    Departments on/near the borders of the county routinely respond outside the county, and departments from the other counties routinely assist our departments. We've even gotten MA from Canada, no questions asked.

    With just a couple of minor exceptions (single paid drivers at a couple of departments) nobody gets paid as such.

    Neither of the career-staffed departments in the county expects any recompense if they come out to assist us. Both are also signatories to the MA agreement.

    By "paid vollie" I presume you mean "paid on call." Who pays? The municipality or the fire company?

    I would suggest that you move your negotiations away from the fire departments and into their governing bodies, unless all of the fire departments are independents who contract with the respective municipalities.

    Mutual aid is exactly that - like tfpd109 said - you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. If things get to the point where the mutual aid isn't mutual, however, that's a whole 'nother can of worms.
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    That's about it. You help us, we help you. We have a formal plan with our closest neighbors for automatic aid. These get dispatched on the initial call for target hazards, and upon a "working fire" declaration. We have to set this up with the 911 center. Otherwise, we can ask the dispatcher for a specific dept response, or just for " 1 engine to fill in at our quarters, and an engine a truck, and 2 ambulances to the scene" etc.

    To make it more fun, our village is at the extreme southern border of our county. We border TWO other counties, and have a contract to cover an adjacent "town" in another county. During major incidents or disasters, the common county dispatch to county dispatch frequency gets a good workout!! One of our most frequent m/a partners is in another county.

    Both of those counties use low band radios. Ours uses high band, so we have 2 mobile radios in each apparatus, and carry a low band portable as well.

    We've never refused anyone help either, nor has it been denied to us.

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    The paid departments are municipalities. The 3 in county muni depts are all onboard and ready to roll but they are 30 minutes from my area. The town just across the county line is 8 minutes tops from my most populated neighborhood, and have answered every request I have ever had. I have rolled every time they have call us. Its just now that we want them to sign a new agreement that has new legal lingo that will blanket all of the previous agreements and cures problems we have in other areas of the county. The phrase "free of charge" pops up and the their chief has a seizure. He has never charged us for anything, but I think the pressure is on him to lower their ISO without outside help. He can't do it, the city council won't give him funds to upgrade equipment and doesn't like him going out of town and doesn't want us to come in. Jan 1 they went to $800 for one truck on out of town calls in their county at the behest of the council. The council wants to know if they can bill a homeowner seperately even if the owner pay us dues. Its all politics, and politics are about to get them left out.

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    we are a poc dept an have mutual aid agreements with 2 surrounding depts an like said above its kind of like one hand washes the other, even when we get called out for a mutual aid for a fulltime city dept its not like we make more, a few times this past 2 months we have traveled from one side of the county to the other side of the city which is roughly 40-55min drive to aid. an then we also have the MABAS which we have gone to a scene in a surrounding state an traveling down the interstate in the rig and tanker is not too fast haha. I dont care how much I make its the love of being a FF for me. Although I am trying to be a FT ff either way it dont matter to me.

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    As for the volly dept who wants to paid, they informed us today they will not go to the municipal dept calls but would responed to rural depts calls. So there goes the county-wide part.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SE6403 View Post
    Since this involves volunteers, I will post my fustration here. My county is drafting a county-wide aid agreement for structure fires only. We have 3 paid volly depts. and 5 full vollies. ?
    It is mutual aid. You help me, I help you. no money exchanges hands.

    Departments don't like it, go pound sand until they can grow up.

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    We have automatic aid with 4 other rural volly departments. We help them they help us no charge. Now the town next to us does "pay per call" there firefighters so they won't sign a auto aid agreement how ever they will give full mutal aid. So basically they we always come when we need them. We just have to word it correctly lol. There has never been hard feelings on any side.
    I would just tell the departments that won't agree t totally free aid "thanks but no thanks" and let them deprive there citizens of the proper aid they deserve.
    Last edited by volfireman034; 04-30-2011 at 03:46 AM.

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    Crazy............. Here, Every Department is responsible for whatever area that they are closest to, known as your "First Due". You respond to all calls in that area, unless you are unable because you're already out on something else. The area that you are the Second Closest Station to is your "Second Due", and so on........ You get the idea. Money is not involved. Period. Towns aren't involved in Fire Protection here, so that is not a problem either. Here's the Biggie: Participation is NOT optional. Each County has it's own Dispatch Center, and they handle all calls coming in thru the 911 phone system. By Law, you must call 911 for an emergency, and the Dispatch Center for your County will send the closest help. There are no measures for determining "First Due" etc. except who is closest. City or County lines, zip Codes, etc. are not considered. We routinely send and receive help across State lines every day. I know of one area where a VFD is located in Pennsylvania, but they have several square miles of First Due in Maryland. My own VFD has First Due area inside the City Limits of the Town next to us, even though we aren't located in that town......
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    Default On the eighth day, the Lord created Stupid.

    Quote Originally Posted by SE6403
    The hold up is one full volly doesn't want to help its closest neighbor (a paid volly) unless they get the same pay the paid vollies get, but they want a full response from the paid dept for a fire their area for free.
    OK... so these guys think they are special. Just because they are responding to an area where the volunteers are compensated, they think they can hold up that department they are assisting. Sounds like they need to get a grip on reality.


    Quote Originally Posted by SE6403
    Then on the other side of the county, my closest neighbor (one of the out of county depts) can't get past the point in the agreement about each dept must pay its own costs and cannot bill another dept.
    If they feel that way, they should not respond outside of their response area.



    Quote Originally Posted by SE6403
    My question is should a volunteer get paid when responding mutual aid to a paid dept's call and what do these departments not understand about mutual aid?
    Short Answer.... NO.

    It never ceases to astound me how some fire departments continue to shoot themsleves in the foot. Many times, we are our own worst enemy when it comes to our image and relationships. There is a reason some people should not be firefighters, chiefs or involved in this business. This is another example that convinces me of that fact.

    It seems we have a bunch of people with huge egos in play. They need to face the reality that at some point, they will need help from someone else. If they do not sign the agreement, then they will be on their own.

    This is real simple.

    Mutual-Aid means we all agree to help each other with whatever we can afford to send. We bear our own costs, damage, insurance, fuel.... everything, just like we do at home. It is too bad that a few seem to think they can milk this deal... That is not mutual-aid.

    One important aspect of a Mutual or Automatic Aid Agreement that many do not ever take into consideration is the Workers Compensation Insurance. If you sign a agreement that does not state that your firefighters are covered out of district, then they will not be covered. If you respond somewhere where no agreement exists, then each firefighter could be on their own.

    There are exceptions to this. Some States have now adopted Statewide Recipricol Agreements on everyone's behalf.... meaning, any fire department that provides assistance to another is automatically covered as far as WC and Liability Insurance. I would check to see if that is true in your state. Most of these agreements state that nothing about your department changes as to insurance, pay or no pay, bearing your own costs, etc.

    If the majority of the departments agree to the terms and language in your agreement, then I suggest you ignore the guys that want conditions or special treatment and leave them out. When they cry about how they are being mistreated, then push the agreement back in front of them and tell them, take it or leave it. They need to get over that pride thing before they kill someone.

    I was with a department many years ago that faced a similiar issue. The county fire departments were trying to put a resolution to ballot that would create a County Wide Emergency Services Tax, each department would receive funding in equal shares. It would not be based on population or where the tax was collected. The departments were discussing the issue of how we would fund the election. It was decided by vote to have each department contribute an equal amount into an account.

    Two departments out of 18 decided that they could not contribute to the fund, because they had limited funds, and since there was no guarnatee that the resolution would pass, they were not going to risk anything. I was one of the authors of the resolution, so after listening to their reasons, I made a motion to strike those two department names from the ballot. The motion was quickly seconded and passed 16 to 2. No second chance, no room for do-overs. You have to pay to play, period. While they both wanted to discuss the issue some more, the rest of us had more important things to do.

    Long story short... the County Tax Ballot was passed by the voters with 75% Yes. In the first year, 16 fire departments received funding of over $250,000. Of course the 2 cried foul and stated they were mistreated. Both departments were later put out of business by neighboring departments. No firefighter was retained from either department. Harsh reality? Yes.

    Moral: You cannot fix stupid. Don't even try. If they don't want to play well with others... then move on.
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    Simple answer? If they can't get their heads out of their ***** and play nice, don't call them for mutual aid and don't provide mutual aid to them.

    Just work with the rest of the departments who are willing to be reasonable and let that be it.
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    We have a County wide mutual aid plan, we also have local mutual aid plans with surrounding towns, and we have an automatic aid plan with 1 neighboring town.

    No money changes any hands any way. All volunteer.
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