Automatic Aid? No. Why Not?

Comments: 0

Roanoke City, Town of Vinton, and Roanoke County Firefighters converged on a house located at 7th and Dale in the Town of Vinton Yesterday.
This account was emailed to me:

“Roanoke City fire companies were dispatched Monday evening to a reported structure fire in the area of 7th and Dale SE. At the same time Engine 14 and Medic 6 were on the scene of a minor 10-50 at 13th and Baldwin.{ right beside the Vinton Town limits} The 10-50 was turned over to city PD and medic 6 headed toward the possible fire in SE and Engine 14 headed back to quarters. Finding nothing at 7th and Dale, city fire units were soon cleared and placed back in service. Soon after, it was relayed that Vinton units were on scene battling a house fire at 7th and Dale in Vinton. While returning to quarters, Engine 14 was flagged down by numerous civilians reporting the house fire at 7th and Dale-Vinton. {which is also called Glade street NE in Roanoke City} Engine 14 checked with city dispatch as to whether they needed to head that way and again dispatch said Vinton units were already on scene fighting the fire. Engine 14 approached the scene and discovered their were no units on scene except for a Vinton police officer. Engine 14 gave an initial size-up and began an interior attack due to reports of the house being occupied. Vinton units began arriving shortly after and then additional city units were requested by E-14. City Engine 6, Ladder 1, and BC-1 responded.

Interior efforts were later halted due to the large amount of debris piled up throughout the entire structure. All doors were completely blocked. It was later learned that the occupants accessed the house by climbing through the windows. At one point, there were {2} 1 3/4 inch attack lines, {1} 2 1/5″ attack line {exterior}, and later E-14′s aerial device were deployed to battle the blaze. Once the fire was knocked down, city units cleared and Vinton units remained on scene to perform overhaul operations with the aid of a back hoe. Due to the large amount of debris encountered, this structure was dubbed the meanest 1 1/2 story house fire we have seen in a while. This was a prime example of the need for automatic aid with Vinton and Roanoke County!
Political boundaries should not stand in the way of service to citizens in need of help.”

It was brought to my attention that Medic 6 was on scene fighting fire also.

I got an email explaining a little bit of the County Side: “… something else you prolly didn’t know Read Mountain scratched the call and they are the 3rd due company or maybe 2nd to that location. No Engine No Medic truck from them not sure where the next in companies came from. “

My question is this. If Read Mountain did indeed scratch the call and Vinton Engine 2 was on scene, who would have come to help them and when would they have gotten there?

The town of Vinton lacks an effective fully staffed Department. Yet when Vinton needs assistance, which is common on structure fires, they call for the county. Why? If they truly want the best for there citizens then call the City. The City’s fire stations are closer, housing staffed fire engines. Heck Station #14 is right next to Vinton and has one of those watchamacallits on top of it (you know the telesquirt thing that is costing the City millions of dollars because we have to build brand new stations so that it will fit in them).

The City is missing a huge opportunity here. They could offer supplemental fire protection for the County, Salem, and Vinton all the time and make money. That money could be used for more staffing (which would be needed to maintain response times) , better equipment, better benefits for the Firefighters. Wait a minute though, the localities would be spending money on fire protection for their citizens then. Scratch that, they don’t do that now, why would they go for that.

Oh and by the way. That fire, you know the one in Vinton that we are talking about. Yeah the fire which wasn’t even in the City. The way I see it, that fire cost the City almost $300,000. Why you ask. Well you know those telesquirt things that THE CITY JUST HAD TO HAVE, you know the ones on top of Engine 4, 10, and 14. Well putting those incidentals on top of a fire engine cost the City approximately $300,000 more than what three custom fire engines would have cost. That being said, the fire in Vinton was the first fire that one of those telesquirts was used. HOORAY!! Let’s celebrate. Oh yeah and by the way, the Check is in the Mail.

The point that I was trying to make is basically this; The localities involved around Roanoke City should be using Automatic Aid as a last resort. Before Automatic Aid, the localities should have hired a fully staffed Career Department which operates at all the stations 24/7. Supplementation by Volunteers is perfectly acceptable and would benefit the Citizens. Once this staffing level has been achieved then you can fine tune Mutual Aid agreements. Automatic Aid should occur only as a temporary solution to the problem or as the end all, if all other options are considered. This is because of liability, for missing calls, of the Aiding Department (in their own jurisdiction).

I might add that Mutual aid as I have posted before is merely an agreement between localities that if one has an incident and needs more resources then the other may be called. See this post for more information on this subject.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!