Monday, July 30, 2012

Five Charleston area fire departments sign unprecedented aid agreement

Greater Charleston area fire departments have taken unprecedented steps toward cross-boundary support when responding to future fires and emergencies. The governing bodies of the City of Charleston, the City of North Charleston, St. Andrew’s Public Service District, James Island Public Service District, and St. John’s Fire District each approved an Interlocal Agreement for Automatic Aid and Response to provide mutual assistance during emergencies and jointly signed the agreement on Monday, July 30, 2012 at the North Charleston and American LaFrance Fire Museum and Educational Center.

At the ceremony, five neighboring fire departments formally entered into the automatic aid agreement for fire protection. This agreement is the result of years of work to develop identical or compatible procedures that allow the members of these five departments to work together seamlessly at fires and other emergency incidents. In the future, responses will be from the closest available crews for emergencies that are located anywhere in these jurisdictions, regardless of municipal and service district boundaries.

The areas included cover Daniel Island to Kiawah Island and Ladson Road to Peninsula Charleston. Faster response can significantly improve the outcome of incidents and could result in saving more lives and property. These five departments have a total combined force of approximately 800 firefighters who can now operate together effectively at large scale emergencies.

“This agreement for automatic aid significantly improves our capability to handle major emergencies as well as multiple, simultaneous incidents. I credit our partner departments with working through many challenges to achieve this agreement that provides safer and more effective service to the citizens we serve,” said North Charleston Fire Chief Greg Bulanow.

“This agreement assures we provide the best response and customer service to the our citizens. We are proud to be working with the other Departments,” said Charleston Interim Fire Chief Franklin Finley.

“This historic document is all about improving service to our customers while enhancing safer operations for our personnel,” said St. Andrews Public Service District Fire Chief Mark Schrade.

“Automatic Aid, common Standard Operating Guidelines, and joint training are key to providing the citizens we protect with the highest level of service possible. This Automatic Aid Agreement ensures that our communities are receiving the quickest possible response to their call for service by sending the closest unit regardless of jurisdiction,” said James Island Public Service District Fire Chief M. Chris Seabolt.

"Automatic aid is all about the customer getting an adequate response without the worry of whose jurisdiction they may reside in,” said St. John’s Fire District Fire Chief Karl E. Ristow.

Each department will bear the costs associated with its own crews and equipment, with the possible exception of hazmat costs. Assistance rendered under this agreement is determined on an as available basis and is not required if the circumstances are such that safety in one area of service will be diminished by providing assistance.

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