The 12 fire departments in Box Elder county started talking about changing the way departments are dispatched in the area a few months ago. Many fire departments across the county use a system called automatic aid. In automatic aid departments pre-determine what resources they need for a specific type of response. Basically what that means is, we take different trucks and equipment to a structure fire vs. a vehicle rollover. The other factor in this situation is the fact it has to be made smooth and has to work rather effortlessly for the dispatch center. For dispatch to have to look through a book of what each departments different response plans would be when they page, would be extremely inefficient.
The fix to make everything work was a new module to add to the existing dispatch system. The automatic aid module lets fire departments set up their response plans for roughly 9 different types of calls. Each department custom ‘designed’ their response plans for the resources they have. Some departments obviously have more resources than others. The best part about the new system is departments can add additional resources from other departments and they will be paged out automatically on the initial call. Many departments in the area don’t have enough resources to handle even a larger structure fire. In the past help was called as needed under a system called mutual aid. That meant, if we needed help, we’d call on the radio and ask them to page another department for additional resources. Many times departments waited to call for additional help until they got on scene. There could be confusion on who they should call for help or if that department even had enough people to respond.
Now, this has already been pre-determined. If we get information from dispatch that people on scene say that it’s not just one structure but two structures on fire, now we can tell dispatch to strike a 2nd or 3rd alarm before we even leave. The other part that we have already determined exactly what trucks are called from what station. Stations that have only 1 engine, we may want to not call on them or leave them until we have hit a 4th or 5th alarm because we don’t want to take the only engine from that city leaving them vulnerable and unprotected until we absolutely have to.
For this reason you may see Tremonton running a fire truck into Garland on a more regular basis. If we have a structure fire in Garland, Tremonton was asked to send (and agreed) 1 engine on a 1 alarm structure fire. If the fire warrants it, Tremoton will then send their ladder truck at Garland’s request on a 2 alarm fire. After that we are seeking resources from Fielding, Corrine and Brigham City. Other responses have similar break downs where other resources are coming into town to help. On the other side, Tremonton has requested Garland send an engine to Tremonton to assist on any structure fire on a 1 alarm fire.
There was an initial price tag for the module. The 12 departments used a small amount of their own funds to help purchase the module as well as some help from the county. The good thing for the residents of Garland, is, as part of the automatic aid agreements, if we get help from another department, there will be no cost to the city of Garland for the help from other departments. And on the same note, Garland FD will help other cities, with no expense to them. The fire department is excited for the new system. It will ensure that more resources can be brought to bear on an incident very easily and even automatically. Automatic aid agreements, which are signed agreements with city officials, actually are looked at by insurance companies. If they know a fire departments have pre-determined the additional resources, they feel less property will be lost and hence this can turn into lower insurance rates for the residents who’s area is covered by automatic aid agreements.
So, if you see Tremonton, Fielding or Corrine Fire Departments in Garland, rest assured it’s not that the Garland Fire Department isn’t there, it just means more help is on scene as well.