By UFA Battalion Chief Wade Watkins
As an emergency responder serving in the area for the past twenty years in different capacities, I have been thankful for having great relationships with neighboring agencies. These relationships routinely give me perspective on our mission to respond to the community’s emergency needs. When I reference the “community”, I speak in a broader sense of the word.
Many times during emergency incidents, the resources needed exceed what a single jurisdiction may have. For example, a confirmed single-family home involved with fire requires a first alarm assignment. This will include three fire engines, one ladder truck, one ambulance, a heavy rescue dedicated to firefighter rescue and at least one Battalion Chief.
The above response is based on national standards and best practices. As “fire can double in size every 30 seconds causing everything in a room to burn in as little as three minutes” (source: firemarshal.utah.gov). Fire in the present day is more aggressive and toxic due to the synthetic materials of construction. This reality motivates firefighters to respond to the fire and use responding resources with exigency.
Most of the time the resources are responding from the local area and from different jurisdictions to converge on the emergency scene with the same priorities. This response widens the bandwidth and supports the incident priorities of life safety, incident stabilization and property conservation. First responders show up and work under the National Incident Command System (NICS); ensuring common understanding and clear communication on the emergency scene.
I am often impressed that the first responders do so with a phenomenal attitude, exercising discipline and professionalism while working together as a larger and more capable team. This concept is defined as “automatic aid” and when appropriately used, enables citizens to have emergency responders at their doorstep immediately, even during periods when 911 calls surge, due to weather, large fires or unforeseen circumstances. Teamwork is truly making the dream work on each and every emergency response.