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  • Mutual aid request denied by city official

    Has anyone ever heard of a city leader denying a neighboring jurisdiction's request for mutual aid? I am wondering what the legal ramification would be. Loss of grant funds, non compliance with local, state or federal regulations?

  • #2
    I can tell you that we had situation in this area. A fire department (that shall remain nameless) in Ohio was contracted to respond with an engine to structure fires and fire alarm activations first response for a neighboring department. The higher archery deemed that the number of false alarms was costing more money then doing good and terminated the agreement.

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    • #3
      Interesting situation..... Seems like liability could be assumed by the Official if it caused additional harm and/or damage. Simple enough to prove that there was a blatant breech of Contract, they wouldn't need Johnny Cochran on this one.
      "Be LOUD, Be PROUD..... It just might save your can someday when goin' through an intersection!!!!!"

      Life on the Truck (Quint) is good.....

      Eat til you're sleepy..... Sleep til you're hungry..... And repeat.....

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      • #4
        Originally posted by mikeyboy View Post
        Seems like liability could be assumed by the Official if it caused additional harm and/or damage.
        On what basis? Typical municipal charters place the responsibility to provide specified services on the municipality -- not on neighboring municipalities. Liability can only be be found where a specific legal duty to act was owed.

        Simple enough to prove that there was a blatant breech of Contract
        That's assuming there was any "contract" in place. Again, in typical mutual aid agreements, mutual aid is provided if available without unreasonably compromising the service levels of the provider.

        Mutual aid is not a "given."
        "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"
        sigpic
        The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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        • #5
          Deputy Marshal nailed it. Mutual Aid is not a duty to act it is a pre arranged and organized request for assitance. Any department can deny that request for a number of reasons including but not limited to already on a call, low manpower at that time or apparatus out of service.

          I do see auto aid agreements slightly differently. To us auto aid means that if a structure fire comes in xyz location then xyz and abc department is dispatched, this amounts to an extension of abc's first due area and every effort should be made to get a crew on the road.

          What is important is that you have a mutual aid system as opposed to an agreement. A system deals with the situation where department xyz cannot respond, the dispatcher using the predefined list will dispatch the next logical department.

          It has happened im my department, even though we are one of the larger departments in the area, for some reason we did not get enough personel to send a crew and still protect our first due. So we had two options pass it to the next department or have the next department move up to or district. Around here is is kind of frowned upon to have someone move up and cover your station while you get to go to work, so we let the next department take the call. It sucks to watch another department roll code through your district to a call you were dispatched to but it was the best move.

          The one thing in the original post that is concerning is that the city leader denied the request, normally it should be a chiefs decision. Without the city leaders explanation it is unfair to pass judgement. That being said hopefully it wasn't a budgetary issue as it is unfair not to give aid and then request it next week. Most reasons I can think of a city official would have to deny aid should have been communicated before the call went out, and dispatch centers and all other mutual aid departments should have been notified.

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          • #6
            Our Mutual Aid

            Just had this discussion with my B.C. regarding the minimum equipment to be carried on our Brush Engine. It's an internal thing.....

            We have Auto and Mutual Aid with the Local Government (surrounding FDs, County), State and the Feds. If the Unit is the closest appropriate type (Medic Engine, Rescue, ARFF, etc) and there is further injury, death, etc that occurs there is going to be an investigation. If in that investigation it is found that the City Leader does not have the authorization to make this type of decision (not on the Fire Board, etc) then there will be punishment dealt and it could be monetary.

            Has anyone ever heard of a city leader denying a neighboring jurisdiction's request for mutual aid? I am wondering what the legal ramification would be. Loss of grant funds, non compliance with local, state or federal regulations?
            When I read this, my understanding is that there is a Mutual Aid Agreement in place. Now, if the Agreement states under what circumstances the M/U will be given (and it will) and it falls outside of that then it's no deal and no punishment dealt. If it was within the circumstances then the City Leader should be fearful of their job come next election time, political pressure is a bear.....

            As far as the FD being punished by lose of funding/grants I doubt that would happen. As I see it, it really depends on how the contracts are set-up, what the State and Feds interpretation is. In California we have a State Master Mutual Aid System that most FDs belong to (I don't use all here, because I'm sure there's some FD out there that doesn't) and it outlines clearly what circumstances M/U is given and received violation is investigated and fines levied if warranted.
            Last edited by mikeyboy; 03-21-2011, 02:46 PM.
            "Be LOUD, Be PROUD..... It just might save your can someday when goin' through an intersection!!!!!"

            Life on the Truck (Quint) is good.....

            Eat til you're sleepy..... Sleep til you're hungry..... And repeat.....

            Comment


            • #7
              Mikey ...

              Aren't departments that choose to receive OES engines required to provide mutual aid statewide with that engine?
              Train to fight the fires you fight.

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              • #8
                Here is an example of a mutual aid agreement in NYS - this is for a county, with fire departments within the county agreeing to provide aid if requested.....and in NY, mutual aid is actually defined by law.....

                http://www.gwe2.org/mutual.htm

                As far as funding etc...in this example county - if a department withdraws from the plan -
                Any fire company or fire department withdrawing from this plan, upon the effective date, shall surrender and return to the Rockland County Fire Coordinator, Rockland County Fire Training Center , Firemen�s Memorial Drive , Pomona , New York , all county-owned equipment. Such withdrawal shall remain in effect until reinstated by resolution as defined by Section 209 of the General Municipal Law.

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                • #9
                  Mikey ...

                  Aren't departments that choose to receive OES engines required to provide mutual aid statewide with that engine?
                  Yes sir, you are correct..... Refusal results in an investigation, discipline and possible removal of the Unit. It's a very defined process and Cal-EMA (formerly OES) takes it seriously.

                  To add another point to my previous post, if there is not a Mutual Aid or Auto Aid Agreement with the FD that responds (Feds or State) then a bill will be sent. They stressed this in a Strike Team Leader Class I recently sat in. There are very simple ways to ensure this won't happen, but that is a whole other topic.

                  We hear a lot of "this is above my pay-grade" and I imagine this could apply to the City Official case also.
                  Last edited by mikeyboy; 03-25-2011, 04:11 PM.
                  "Be LOUD, Be PROUD..... It just might save your can someday when goin' through an intersection!!!!!"

                  Life on the Truck (Quint) is good.....

                  Eat til you're sleepy..... Sleep til you're hungry..... And repeat.....

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Why yes I have, in fact our county commissioners promote NOT having mutual aid. Not only that they, as well as the local city fire department, and local ambulance refuse to use NIMS or ICS. I have also seen where they have called off other resources so that only one specific resource can be used. Even if it means threatening the well being of the victim.

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                    • #11
                      Things like this happen all the time. Some Union Fire Departments may be such that they will never call upon volunteer departments for Mutual aid - just not getting any aid and depending on call ups.

                      In TN the only thing the state has as a requirement is vehicle obtained through Forestry must be available for mutual aid to the Forestry department. (TN being the state I believe the OP is from)

                      I hope someone has pointed out to that city leader that the mutual aid works both ways.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by LVFD301 View Post
                        Things like this happen all the time. Some Union Fire Departments may be such that they will never call upon volunteer departments for Mutual aid - just not getting any aid and depending on call ups.
                        While I don't disagree that this happens, there are also volunteer departments that will not or will very rarely call upon a career department for Mutual Aid.

                        My small city is directly surrounded by around a dozen volunteer stations and mutual aid requests from them each year is less than a dozen. It's also not uncommon to call units that will have to drive thru our city (sometimes past our stations) in order to get to the call, even though we are much closer. We don't even get asked to do standby coverage for them. Granted, we don't do station transfers, but we could easily respond from our stations into those districts and have a response time in line with what their average response time is.


                        As far as relying on callbacks or "call ups" as you put it goes, depending on the specifics of the department, they are a very reasonable option vs mutual aid. For example, we live in our city, so when we do a callback for a fire, our off-duty response isn't much different than what a mutual aid response would be. Sometimes, that's all we need. Sometimes we need more and we on the other hand have no choice but to call upon the volunteers when we need help.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mikeyboy411 View Post
                          Interesting situation..... Seems like liability could be assumed by the Official if it caused additional harm and/or damage. Simple enough to prove that there was a blatant breech of Contract, they wouldn't need Johnny Cochran on this one.
                          Johnny Cochran is dead.....
                          everyonegoeshome.com

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by FireMedic049 View Post
                            ...Granted, we don't do station transfers, but we could easily respond from our stations into those districts and have a response time in line with what their average response time is...
                            That right there would tell me why they are not requesting you. They need coverage for their area and you are staying in your city....ready to respond to a call in your city, which would then leave them no coverage?
                            "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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                            • #15
                              I was actually surprised by this thread because denial of mutual aid is something I'm quite familiar with. I don't know how many of you run medic transport, but we do. We have several fire and private agencies around us who also provide medic transport. If they run out of units, they'll start calling the next nearest, etc. We'll send help, fire or ambulance, until doing so would deplete our response capabilities to our own citizens. Once we reach that point, we refuse to respond on mutual aid. It easily happens a couple times a year, if not more.

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