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Explaining response

Published: Sunday, April 20, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

To the Editor:

I will respond to the two recent letters regarding the amount of equipment responding to the incident in Algonquin (“Too many resources?”, April 12; “Explanation please”, April 13.)

First, I’m retired with 34 years of fire service experience. All area fire departments are part of the MABAS system (Mutual Aid Box Alarm System). This is an organized system for calling in additional resources. This system saves taxpayers money. Departments can’t afford to employ enough resources to handle a big incident in their town.

Just because the newspaper says 12 departments responded to an incident doesn’t mean the whole department responded. In most cases, the neighboring towns will only send one piece of equipment with manpower.

When a MABAS box alarm is activated, the neighboring towns will respond. Once the incident is stabilized, units are released and sent home, many times before being used or even arriving on scene. However, they are still listed as responding.

Many incidents need a lot of manpower because of all the safety standards that the fire service must comply with. Firefighter deaths have led to changes in how we operate and safety is an utmost concern. So departments activate box alarms much more quickly due to these safety standards and a lack of on-duty manpower on any given day.

The cost for providing aid is paid by the town providing the aid. This system is reciprocated, so one department may provide help today, but will need the help tomorrow. 

Jim Callanan

Spring Grove

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