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  1. #21
    Forum Member PAVolunteer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Choice?? What Choice??....

    Originally posted by hwoods
    When it comes to the matter at hand here, we have no choice. None. Nada. Nyet. In the mid-Atlantic area (not just my county or state) The system used by the vast majority of jurisdictions is: Closest company is "First-Due" 2nd Closest is "2nd Due" and so on. No political boundary lines get in the way. City, County, State lines Don't count, nor do zip codes, any form of "district" is out. Closest is it. Period ...

    I can't emphasize enough that this is the ego-proof system. No matter how much you love those guys with the purple trucks 8 stations down the road, They ain't coming until they are dispatched IN THE PROPER SEQUENCE. Nobody but NOBODY runs a call if they are not the closest available unit that is required for that assignment. No matter how much of a politician a Chief might think he is, he doesn't get to choose his help, he takes the closest and thats it. Period. Those of us who use this system (except for a few whiners) love it. No Politics, No Guesswork. Just help as fast as possible. To borrow from a TV commercial "Try it. You'll like it". Stay Safe....
    Unfortunately, this does not apply in Pennsylvania. The worst case scenario of "the guys with the purple trucks 8 stations down the road" happens all the time. "No matter how much of a politician a Chief might think he is, he doesn't get to choose his help" is absolutely NOT the case. Every chief gets to choose his help and he can bring whomever he wants! Note that there are exceptions to the rule.

    When you say, "No political boundary lines get in the way. City, County, State lines Don't count, nor do zip codes, any form of "district" is out. Closest is it. Period ...", it is the exact opposite in PA.

    Sick, retarded, stupid, assanine, and ignorant, ain't it?

    Stay Safe


  2. #22
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    We also do proximity based mutual aid dispatch. We even have mutual aid companies getting the first tone for calls in our district so the closest appropriate unit gets in route. The only time we do special call is for a specific boat or Haz-Mat/tech recue that requires more trained responders (ie Houston Hazmat or a rescue boat instead of evac)

  3. #23
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    Cool 'been doin this for years...

    We've been using an automatic mutual aid system in our area for over 20 years, and we've been successful with it. In fact, with the exception of the mostly-career department in the City of Reading, every fire company in the county uses automatic mutual aid (AMA) to some degree. There are local, regional (sub-county) and county-level mutual aid agreements in effect, along with some that cross county lines.

    Essentially, AMA allows us to do a few things:
    1. specialize - no individual fire company tries to be entirely self-sufficient, but instead provides engine company services and one (or more) specialized services (e.g. truck, rescue, tanker, brush, hazmat, etc.)
    2. draw on a larger manpower pool
    3. cross-train - working regularly with other companies requires training with them, which, in turn, means greater exposure to new ideas and new skills that you wouldn't necessarily get internally. This is a major indirect benefit of our mutual aid arrangements.
    4. foster interoperability - working regularly with other companies requires a high degree of standardization in equipment, processes, etc.

    I'll give you some idea of how it works using my station as an example:

    We primarily use AMA (defined in my post as "mutual aid companies dispatch on the initial assignment") for three types of alarms: reported structure fires, AFAs, and rescues.

    Take the basic structure assignment:
    Company 42 (my station): engine, 2 tanker/pumpers, CAFS squad
    Company 57: ladder quint, squirt, engine
    Company 67: rescue/engine, heavy rescue, engine

    This covers all the basic equipment requirements (with engines to spare, usually) and ends up pulling staffing of about 12-15 in the daytime and anywhere from 25-40 at other times on the initial response. Response order of apparatus is pre-dertermined so that (especially in the daytime) the critical pieces get out and anything left sit, unstaffed, at station is going to be one of those "extra" engines. Report of a working fire automatically triggers county dispatch (everyone in the county is dispatched from the County Communications Center) to put the first alarm companies on standy and send EMS to the scene. The standby companies serve two purposes: rapid response to the scene, if needed, and rapid response to cover additional calls in the areas where the stations are dumped, if needed. If the first alarm is called up, the second alarm takes standby, etc. That way, nobody gets caught uncovered because of resources committed at the initial scene.


    We've also taken this to a (sub-county) regional level with the West Central Berks Tanker Task Force. Any company (in or outside of west central Berks) can request the tanker task force and automatically get 7 tankers and 4 engines from 5 stations. There is also a list of standbys and move-ups from both Berks and Lancaster counties, involving about 8 or 9 stations, for coverage. The TTF comes complete with its own fill site and dump site engines, SOPs and command structure (working as a sector under the incident commander). We use standardized appliances and hose and train together periodically in all-day task force drills (the next one is in May) to make sure everyone knows what's going on. We also carry hardware (adapters, hose, etc.) to interface with the equipment used by other companies outside of, but near, west central Berks. Basically, all we need to know is the locations of one or two good water sources and one or two dump sites, and the TTF takes it from there.


    As you can probably tell, I'm a big fan of AMA. I see only two reasons to try to be self-sufficient:
    1. population density and call volume warrants it (cities are the best example of this)
    2. isolation requires it

    Otherwise, I think that the benefits (in money, training crossover, etc.) far outweigh any disadvantages, and that the disadvantages can be overcome with good planning.

  4. #24
    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Talking Oops..............

    Pa.... When I said purple trucks, I didn't mean to pick on Aquashicola. Stay safe....
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
    In memory of
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    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

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  5. #25
    Cpt. Common Sents nbfcfireman's Avatar
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    In my company its not uncommon for us to have only 4 or 5 guys respond on a week night. The way my town works it is if there is a report of a structure fire the 2 neiboring companies only send 1 pumper and another company sends a F.A.S.T. team. This makes it so that no one is spread to thin.

  6. #26
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    We only put another dept. on Auto Aid if one of our key trucks are down.
    Matt

    LIEUTENANT
    Covington Fire/Rescue, Texas

    U.S.A.F Reserve Firefighter

  7. #27
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    In my county every dept. is part of a mutal aid agreement and for the most part it goes the closest rolls first, with the excempt of special equipment needed.( extra tankers)My dept has and automatic aid agreement with a neighboring dept. becuase we are both so small. We both run to all of each others calls. And we follow a simple 1,2,3, rule. 1 man=1 truck, 2nd man=2nd truck, 3rd man= 3rd truck. Becuase our call volume is so low (maybe 10 calls per year ) it Doesn't make sense to hold back a truck. Besides all personal would be with the other trucks. Now, most of the time for structure fires the last truck out for each dept. is a brush truck and we try to keep that in reserve at the fire. If we need it for that fire we use it, if not its ready for a 2nd fire. And the oppsite holds true if its a brush fire then the pumper is in reserve till needed. Most of the time we still call for help from a 3rd dept. but in that case we usually ask for something specific such as manpower or a tanker.
    We have started a new system in the last 6 months.Where a few personal from near by depts ( 3rd due if you will) will respond in the pv and add to the manpower. We normally have enought trucks at the scene and really only need more personal and this still leaves several personal in the 3rd due district to cover there own district and ours as back up. So far its working great. Each of the near by dept including ours has 2 or 3 firefighters "on call" to help any dept near by.

  8. #28
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    In my county we have seven fire departments so we have seven duplications of equipment. Now our state (Indiana) is cutting budgets and special program fundings. An automatic mutual aid program could be the answer to some of the budget prolems. No need for a department to have three tankers 4 brush trucks and 3 engines. A first responce then have mutual aid fill in.

    Save $$$$$$$ be smart!!!!

  9. #29
    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Smile Ted has a good point........

    A formal agreement on how to operate a CONTINUING Automatic Aid system would provide a basis for different departments agreeing on apparatus purchases, such as "I got a 100 ft. Ladder Truck, you get a Heavy Rescue" or something like that. Excessive apparatus seems like an oxymoron, but when every station tries to have everything, you end up with too much of a good thing. I would rather be part of a system that has 4 ladder trucks that run 250 calls per year each, than a system that has 10 trucks that run 100 calls per year each. The busier trucks are going to be much more experienced than the "slower" ones. As to those who worry about starting out on a call and getting cancelled a lot, We run 10 calls a day or more, and get cancelled on half of them, but it does not diminish enthusiasm at all, at least not here. Stay Safe....
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
    In memory of
    Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

    IACOJ Budget Analyst

    I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.

    www.gdvfd18.com

  10. #30
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    We have talked about forming a "County" department but most of the time the conversation ends up as "who will be incharge". Currently my county has (approx) 15-Engines, 13-Tankers, 6-Rescues, 21-Brush Trucks, 1-Aerial 3-Command Units. Total fire calls a year (not counting EMS assists) 400. The seven departments total roster of 175 active firefighters.

    So as you can see we have a lot of money tied up and not being used wisely.

    Also I might add is that we have a mutual aid agreemnet but not an automatic. Tried that once and about got hung, TOO MANY ADDITIONAL CALLS. You need help call county dispatch and request what you want, then wait for us to get there.

  11. #31
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    PA,
    I'm wondering do you guys have problems with cooperation on scene? What I mean is that there is no possible way for you guys to train with every department around you. So is it sometimes choas on scene, because people don't know how to work with each other? That's one of the good things about having the same AMA every time. Is that you know who you are going to be working with. There's no guess work in that either.

  12. #32
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    Training between the departments is not an issue. We have a county association and have conducted several programs and yes even had calls were all departments were called into.The point I would like to bring up is that when the talking began about having an automatic mutual aid agreement where a certain type call would bring in different departments a line was formed in the sand and most of the department officers said we do not want additional calls but will come if you call.

    Maybe a system of automatic mutual aid worries some departments because they know that if worked correctly could be a budget saver by not having so many duplications of equipment and the possibility of purchasing in quantity on gear rather in the same orders we do today. But someone would lose power and then the line is drawn again.

    In times when budgets are getting tight we meed to police ourselves or the elected officals will take it.

    Work smarter not harder!!!

  13. #33
    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Ted's Right ! .....

    Ted has hit the nail on the head with this one. There is a lot to be said for cooperation between companies when buying equipment and most importantly, placing that equipment in the most advantageous location. My only question to Ted is "Someone objected to running more calls?" Honestly, I have never met anyone in the fire/rescue service who didn't want to run more calls. That's strange. At least, using the way we think around here, it is. We ran 4331 calls last year, (see www.gdvfd18.com) and would be very happy to hit 5000 this year. Stay Safe....
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
    In memory of
    Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

    IACOJ Budget Analyst

    I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.

    www.gdvfd18.com

  14. #34
    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    hwoods, I understand what your saying, but I think you would agree, you would be much happier if there were 0 calls.
    "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?

  15. #35
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    Default Couple of points

    While I agree that cooperation, training, and communication between departments is a good thing, I do not see where you must have an AMA to do it. Some good county association meetings would do just as well.

    Reducing staff and apparatus to levels completely dependent upon AMA leaves the door wide open for disaster. At some point in time there is going to be simultaneous fires in the same area. It would be difficult explaining a slow response to fire near the station because everything was 10 miles away on a malfunctioning fire alarm.

  16. #36
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    Default Ya Gotta Work At It...

    Originally posted by loxfire6016
    PA,
    I'm wondering do you guys have problems with cooperation on scene? What I mean is that there is no possible way for you guys to train with every department around you. So is it sometimes choas on scene, because people don't know how to work with each other? That's one of the good things about having the same AMA every time. Is that you know who you are going to be working with. There's no guess work in that either.
    The key to the whole thing is that you have to "work at working together", so to speak. Within our primary AMA (the three-company structure response that runs in all three companies' first due areas), we have monthly joint drills all year long to make sure that we all train together at least that often. For some of these drills, other neighboring companies will also be invited. We also cooperate on non-routine training between ourselves and other neighboring companies periodically throughout the year (for example, we may sponsor and fill a State Fire Academy weekend-long "Academy On The Road" class with personnel from our three companies plus 2 or 3 neighbors). When we do this, we try to mix up teams of firefighters to make people work with folks from other companies one-on-one. That way, when I see someone on the fireground, I know what they're capable of and that we'll be "on the same page" from the beginning.

    We also pay attention to interoperability issues to make cooperation easier on the fireground, particularly among the three primary AMA companies. I can walk up to any rig from Cedar Top, Mohnton or Shillington and grab an air pack and get a properly maintained and tested Scott 4.5 with integrated PASS...I don't have to find one of "our trucks" on the fireground to get an SCBA. If I'm working the pump panel, I know that whatever engine, squirt or tanker/pumper that supplies me, or gets supplied by me, will have hose and appliances that can be used with my hose and appliances. And, I'll know where to find common equipment that I need on anybody else's rigs because I've been given access to the rigs from the other companies to learn what's on them and where it is.

    We've also evolved into our own specialities with respect to our equipment. Shillington and Cedar Top won't be buying aerials because Mohnton has two. Mohnton and Shillington won't be buying tankers because Cedar Top has two. Cedar Top and Mohnton won't be buying rescue equipment because Shillington has it (vehicle, high angle & confined space). And, we cross train our personnel in other companies' specialities, at least to the point that we can support each other with manpower, if needed.

    Our system isn't perfect...we still have lots to do...but the point is that you need to plan, organize and execute if you're going to realize the full benefits of mutual aid.

    On a side note:

    Originally posted by hwoods

    "Someone objected to running more calls?" Honestly, I have never met anyone in the fire/rescue service who didn't want to run more calls.
    I beg to differ. If you're going to send me on 100 more calls this year where there's something useful for me to do (doesn't need to be much, just something), then I'm all for it. If you're going to run me out on 100 more calls that are nuisance AFAs from improperly installed and/or maintained alarm systems, then you can keep them, because I don't want them. I'll run them if they happen, you understand, I don't "pick & choose", but I won't like it a bit. I've experienced this exact scenario...and I'm not the least bit interested in repeating it.

  17. #37
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    Keep in mind that automatic mutual aid should also include automatic step up of equipment and staffing to areas needed. Mutual aid for the "Large" situations should be pre-planned and agreements with departments outside your county should be made. In most large incidents that I have seen is when a call is made for all departments in your area to respond and you end up with engines pumping more water than can be supplied (I live in a rural area). Is staging the answer, yes but does it happen ??? If an pre arranged system is set all your OIC needs to do is request "a box" and they would know what is on its way and they can plan where to position them at.

  18. #38
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    Default Re: Couple of points

    Originally posted by TriTownship600
    While I agree that cooperation, training, and communication between departments is a good thing, I do not see where you must have an AMA to do it. Some good county association meetings would do just as well.
    No way. You've got to get out and get your hands dirty working together to do it right (see my post above). I'm sure of it, because I've seen the results (or lack thereof) both ways.

    Originally posted by TriTownship600

    Reducing staff and apparatus to levels completely dependent upon AMA leaves the door wide open for disaster. At some point in time there is going to be simultaneous fires in the same area. It would be difficult explaining a slow response to fire near the station because everything was 10 miles away on a malfunctioning fire alarm.
    This is the "conventional wisdom", but I would submit the following in response:

    1. That's why AFAs should have reduced initial responses.

    2. Failing this, that's why OICs need to use/hold only necessary units and free the rest up ASAP, no matter what the call is.

    3. Failing that, this is what standby companies and move-ups are for.

    I'm not suggesting bare bones staffing or that areas with sufficient population and need for resources shouldn't be self-sufficient (it would be ridiculous for New York, for example, to be mutual-aid dependant), but I don't buy the "conventional wisdom" for most areas unconditionally, either.

  19. #39
    Early Adopter cozmosis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Couple of points

    Originally posted by TriTownship600
    Reducing staff and apparatus to levels completely dependent upon AMA leaves the door wide open for disaster. At some point in time there is going to be simultaneous fires in the same area. It would be difficult explaining a slow response to fire near the station because everything was 10 miles away on a malfunctioning fire alarm.
    I always hear that argument when talking about multiple fire departments... Yet I never hear it used when talking about larger cities with multiple stations. Why is that?

    What's the difference in the three neighboring departments who run together having two simultaneous incidents... And three station districts in a city having two simultaneous incidents?

    Every station in a city doesn't have to have enough equipment and staffing to handle every type of incident... So why would every small department in a county of many departments have to?

  20. #40
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    AMEN cosmosis

    The only reason I can come up is "TRADITION"

    The tradition of being self veliant, being able to handle any and all situations alone.

    We need to change this tradition and become smarter with our funding and keep the reason why we do what we do, SAVE LIVES & PROPERTY in the front of our minds!! and swallow some tradition and ask for assistance.

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