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Thread: Automatic Aid Supporting Documents

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    Default Automatic Aid Supporting Documents

    I am in need of some supporting documents for automatic aid vs mutual aid. We have leaders in our area that are against automatic aid...so I am in need of documents that show why we need auto aid. And please do not answer its a no brainer...I am aware of that.

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    What is your average time to acknowledge a call and have an officer available? The amount of time that it takes from a dispatch to when you are first able to ask for mutual aid is the main difference between mutual aid and automatic aid.

    Do you wait until you have an officer on scene before you call for mutual aid, or can you ask based on the time of day, type of call, or other information? The biggest difference is in the time it takes to get the aid coming. Yes, there may be more cancellations, but the response will be faster.

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    As much as I tend to dislike the Not For Practical Application folks, sometimes they have value - and this might just be one of those times. NFPA 1710 and 1720 are the documents in question.

    The section on staffing includes this:
    "...to ensure that a sufficient number of members are available to operate safely and effectively."
    And that should be the crux of your case to those leaders.

    NFPA 1710 lays out staffing requirements for career departments. As I recall, it takes something like 15 firefighters to safely initiate an interior attack.

    Note that the quote I offer does not mention interior attack - only the ability to "operate safely."

    The bottom line here lies in the answer to the question, "What do you want your initial response to look like?"

    If you're satified with a bare-bones response that might be able to put some water on the fire, then no automatics are necessary. If your MO is an agressive attack, then you need more help coming at the outset.

    One problem point is when to send the cavalry. This starts to involve size-up by your dispatchers. If the information points to a structure fire (confirmed or not), send everybody. Maybe you want to scale back for automatic fire alarm activations and the like - then the first unit on scene can have them "send the box."

    We are on automatic for a neighboring department in the township. Being a village, they have more automatic fire alarm systems, thus get more activations. We find that we don't hustle as much for those, as we know we'll probably get cancelled before we get very far down the road, if we even get out of the station. Throw in a size-up with "smoke" in it, and things tend to ramp up.

    Another factor is travel time - one side of your district may be a good match for Podunk Center on the automatic, while the other is better for Podunk Hollow. Now you're breaking your district down in to response areas.

    Two thorns make themselves known in discussions such as this - inter-department politics, and rivalries.
    They may sound the same, but they are different.

    Politics involves both traditional politics and, for lack of a better term, feuds.

    One political hot potato is when the aid becomes less than mutual - department A seems to come into department B's area more often than the other way around.

    Rivalries tend to be based on pride - nobody wants to get beat to a scene in their first due by a neighboring department.

    All too often, folks who don't like the idea of automatic aid feel that way for one of those reasons.

    In the end, you have to take the same tack we apply in EMS - What's best for the "patient?"
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    Tree had some great information there. I'd also add that it can affect your ISO rating, possibly lowering insurance rates for citizens. That makes citizens happy, and happy citizens vote for incumbents. (See where I'm going with this?) And better response times and manpower can help to save businesses and property. Businesses that can stay in buisness, and property that doesn't suffer losses, tend to generate more taxes, which makes politicians happy.
    Get all the info you can, and present a well thought out argument. Make them believe that it's going to benefit the politicians, and you shouldn't have any problems.

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    Wait, you mean EVERYONE doesn't have a box card system in their County's CAD?

    You get a report of a dwelling fire in box area #14.....You get three engines and a truck company. Maybe add a Rescue Company and Medic unit on confirmed working fire. Monday through Friday 0600-1800 add an additional one and one to pick up the slack for guys at work.

    You get a report of a building (commercial) fire in box area #7.....Four engines, two trucks, rescue company. Add an additional truck or rescue company and a medic unit for a confirmed working fire. Maybe up the ante by one and one monday through friday 0600-1800 to pick up slack....

    You get a report of a car fire in box area 2......One engine. Add an additional engine M-F 0600-1800.

    You get a report of an MVA with extrication.....One engine, one rescue company, one medic unit. Add an additional engine M-F 0600-1800. Add additional rescues or medics as needed, dont forget engines for helicopter LZ's.....

    Haz Mat......Full assignment. 4 engines, 2 trucks, rescue, Haz Mat Team, start with 2 medics....up the ante M-F 0600-1800...........

    You get the idea. And yes its a no-brainer. You dont need documentation. Just ask the morons in Seaside Heights about automatic aid and what they think of doing versus not doing it.

    Remember- You can get there and realize you dont need the help and send it home. You cannot however, realize you need the help and know that it's coming unless it is coming. Box cards are predetermined with up to and including 5 alarms. Brush trucks, marine units, haz mats, bulk foam carriers, canteen units all indicated for each assignment, or say every other alarm....Like a canteen is added on the second and fourth alarms........But the magic is in the Dispatcher having the information at their fingertips and not having to play "Mother May I?" and ask you for what you want. All you do is pick up the radio and say "dispatch, give me an additional two engine companies" period. Dispatch looks at the card, and send the next 2 indicated. Does not have to ask you who you want, they just send em. Period. This is the 21st Century, not Pigs Knuckle Arkansas in 1979.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    ...Just ask the morons in Seaside Heights about automatic aid and what they think of doing versus not doing it...
    You mean Seaside Park. Seaside Heights was called in as aid.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    Wait, you mean EVERYONE doesn't have a box card system in their County's CAD?
    Not here. Some departments have a pretty comprehensive response plan. Some would rather wait until they get to the scene and see what they need. Some just haven't bothered.

    I'd love to have the county step up and say "this is how it will be," but NY is a home rule state, and the county can't mandate. Strongly suggest, but not mandate. They've opted to stay out of the fray.

    The county has also been reluctant to give the dispatchers the power to determine who gets sent in such cases. If I pick up the mic and simply ask for two more engines, the reply from dispatch will be "and who do you want?"

    They're getting better, but they see it as a liability issue, in addition to the home rule issue.

    Another issue is simply getting dispatch to announce that it's an "second alarm" when they tone them out. Some will call it "automatic mutual aid," some will simply call it "mutual aid." One result of this is that people don't hear it on the radio, so the concept doesn't get reinforced. And some folks aren't even aware of it (or have forgotten) witness one of our own chiefs who called out what amounted to a second alarm by department instead of calling for a second.

    I'd love to see "tanker task forces" set up, but our CAD won't handle the concept. They're handy when you've got an incident (barn fire) where you need lots of water but have all the engines and manpower you need already.

    As I mentioned before, sometimes it's politics. A couple of counties south of here, there were news stories about how one department wouldn't call it's neighbor - whose station is less than a mile away.

    At least we have departments here that have automatics and extra alarms set up.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Seaside Heights was called in as aid.
    Would that be before or after the Police Chief said on his frequency to the dispatcher to "send help, I don't care what the fire chief told you?"
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    If it isn't automatic aid, who is making the decision on who to call? Dispatch? What about those areas where it is kind of in between departments? What is the goal? To protect each department/station's territory? Or to put out the fire as quickly and safely as possible?

    I never have understood the rivalry Tree was talking about, although I'm very familiar with it. Too many are too afraid someone is going to put out more fire than they are. But we exist to serve our communities and those around us, and that line of thinking is self-serving.

    We just went to automatic aid on structure fires after years of discussion. There are only two departments in the county, and help is a long way away, so we were finally able to break through the politics and rivalry and make a move that was beneficial for everybody. From that, during times of high fire danger, we also go to automatic aid on any fires, including wildfires. We did that in 2011 when we had a really bad year for fires, and it made a huge difference. We had as many fires as everyone else, but we generally weren't out very long and our firefighters, equipment, and budget were in a lot better shape by the end of the season.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WVFD705 View Post
    If it isn't automatic aid, who is making the decision on who to call?
    In our case, it's the "home" department. Ideally, we should be sitting down with our surrounding departments and hammering out the best response, and some of that has happened, as noted before.

    In our case, we've got two departments on automatic, and two additional departments each on the second and third alarm. Our first due is bisected by a small river. North of the river and south of the river get different extra alarms. It would be nice to be able to request Engine 12 and 34 on the second, and 56 and 78 on the third, but that's not how we've traditionally run. Dispatches are made by department, not apparatus.

    Quote Originally Posted by WVFD705 View Post
    What about those areas where it is kind of in between departments?
    Our response districts are well defined and tend to follow the political boundries in most cases. My department is almost exactly centered in our district, but there are some that are at one end of their district, which oftimes puts another department closer, but home rule kicks in again (and who's paying the bills).

    There are other issues with how we are dispatched (automatic move-ups - or rather the lack thereof - being one of my pet peeves), but until we can sort out how to get everyone to sit down at the same table and really talk, I don't see many solutions.

    Another issue with dispatch "making the call" on who gets called is how the responsibility for the mutual aid units is handled. If I, as the IC, call for Podunk Hollow's engine, it is now "mine" and if it is somehow damaged, well, that's why we carry mutual aid insurance. If a dispatcher makes the request for Podunk Hollow (even at my request for an engine), what's to stop me from saying, "I didn't want them, I wanted Podunk Center."

    Of course, having all of this down on a "card" (ie, CAD) makes that a non-issue, as I've already specified who to send for the automatics and extra alarms. Or someone in my department has. Unless I don't get along with that department any more and want to change the cards....

    Quote Originally Posted by WVFD705 View Post
    I never have understood the rivalry Tree was talking about...
    Another example: A department ran the ambulance that covered an entire township, including the first due of another department. No big deal, in fact the other department ran EMS first response ahead of the ambulance. On MVA's however, the department with the ambulance would self-dispatch their medium rescue (with tools). Again, not really a big deal. Until said department got out of the ambulance business, which transferred to a newly created not-for-profit outfit.

    Somehow, though, that department convinced dispatch to keep their rescue on the MVA cards into the neighboring district, without the knowledge or consent of the neighboring department.

    Again, no real problem, until the chief of the neighboring department decided to only use them for a portion of his district, putting on a different, closer, department for the remainder of his district.

    Guess who got butt-hurt...
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    Quote Originally Posted by tree68 View Post
    I'd love to see "tanker task forces" set up, but our CAD won't handle the concept. They're handy when you've got an incident (barn fire) where you need lots of water but have all the engines and manpower you need already.
    Our county used some of the later alarms as a "tanker task force". So if I get on scene and need one, I ask for a Tanker Task Force. Dispatch automatically looks to the 8th alarm (why they put it under 8, I may never know) to determine who to call. It is comprised of 4 tankers and a fill site engine all from the further reaches of the county so as not to strip one complete area. Remember this is asked for after your standard 2nd alarm which brings all of the closer tankers to you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    Would that be before or after the Police Chief said on his frequency to the dispatcher to "send help, I don't care what the fire chief told you?"
    Well before.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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