A city’s fire department must be prepared for anything that might happen within its response area. While it is important for the department to be confident in its capabilities, it is even more important the department understand its limitations and who to call when help is needed.
Find out if your fire department is prepared with the right information and whether the proper mutual aid agreements are in place by asking a few questions.
Aside from the city fire department, what disaster or emergency resources are available?
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has a variety of resources it can deploy during certain disasters. The South Carolina Emergency Management Division is available to every local first response agency to assist with disaster planning and emergency resource deployment and management.
Who will your fire department call for special operations?
Special operations such as search and rescue, swift water rescue, high/low angle and confined space rescue, and hazardous materials operations each require a specialized set of skills and knowledge. Many municipal fire departments cannot afford the equipment or training for these very technical operations so they must know who to call when they arrive on the scene.
Does your fire department have agreements in place that will readily bring additional assets to town in the event of an emergency?
There are several mutual aid agreements a fire department must maintain in order to call upon resources outside its jurisdiction. From statewide mutual aid agreements to an agreement with a neighboring department, all are critical for the protection of residents. As an elected official, ensure those agreements are in place and up to date.
Does your fire department regularly train with outside agencies?
While it is important that your department knows who to call when it needs help, your department must know its role once additional resources are deployed. Regular training with outside agencies ensures each knows its job during an emergency. Familiarity with outside personnel and working with the Incident Command System are important results of training with outside agencies. The Incident Command System is a standardized, on-scene, all-hazards incident management approach.