FIRE DEPARTMENT: EXPANDED MUTUAL AID

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FIRE DEPARTMENT: EXPANDED MUTUAL AID

 

Problem Identification:
The City’s existing mutual aid agreements are limited in scope.

Recommended Action:
Establish automatic mutual aid with adjacent jurisdictions to maximize coverage and public safety.

Classification:
Cost Savings, Organizational, Service Improvement

Functional/Operational Area:
Fire Suppression, EMS

Estimated Annual Impact:
While the immediate financial impact cannot be estimated, enhanced mutual aid, with automatic responses, could help ensure quality and timely service particularly in light of proposed station closings.

Estimated Implementation Cost:
None

Barriers to Implementation:
None

Projected Implementation:
90 – 120 days

Next Step:
Schedule meetings between the chiefs of the region’s respective fire and law departments.

Analysis:
The City has existing mutual aid agreements with the State of Maryland for Baltimore/Washington International Airport and with the City of Annapolis, as well as Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, and Howard Counties.

The existing agreement with the adjacent counties has been interpreted as prohibitive of the ‘automatic’ dispatch and free flow of apparatus between jurisdictions. A call for assistance apparently must be made by the municipality desiring assistance after their personnel arrive at the emergency scene.

This type of mutual aid system is burdensome and wastes valuable time. The City of Baltimore is bordered by Anne Arundel County and Baltimore County, both of which have strong nationally recognized fire and EMS service organizations. The City needs to utilize those resources to a greater extent. The existing language contained in the current agreements particularly works in disfavor to the City as at least 18 fire stations within those two counties could be utilized to provide automatic assistance on first alarms of fire alone.

The City and surrounding jurisdictions need to establish a true automatic mutual aid system as has existed for decades within the metropolitan area of Boston, Massachusetts.