Mutual aid plans establish procedures for requesting and dispatching help between fire departments so that each party will know what is expected.
Mutual aid plans may include the following functions:
immediate joint response of several fire departments to high risk properties
joint response to alarms adjacent to the boundaries between fire department areas
coverage of vacated territories by outside departments when the resources of the local department are engaged
provision of additional units to assist at major fires that may be too large for the local department to handle
provision of specialized types of fire fighting equipment not available locally in adequate quantity for the particular incident
Mutual aid plans should also include Operational Guidelines, interdepartmental communications, common terminology, maps and other considerations that directly affect the department’s ability to operate effectively.
It is essential that inter-agency training is done to familiarize each participant with equipment compatibility and how each organization functions. This will ensure smoother operation in an emergency operation.
Command responsibility, jurisdictional questions, insurance coverage and legal constraints should be covered in written agreements supported by enabling legislation to properly establish mutual aid systems for the participating department and agencies.
Adequate manpower and equipment are needed in order for any department to help and support another jurisdiction.
In order for a fire department to function effectively it must be organized so that all members are working in a coordinated effort to accomplish the objectives and requirements of the department.