Zone Plan for Mutual Aid

Zone Plan for Mutual Aid

The modern method of fire fighting calls for mutual assistance in case of conflagration or large fires which the local department cannot handle successfully. This assistance should be callable upon a carefully prearranged plan, so that each department may know exactly what help it may expect from its neighbors in case of need.

COOPERATION between Fire Departments, while long practiced in many sections, has of late entered into a new phase—that of systematic assistance in case of conflagrations or serious fires of a proportion beyond the power of the local Fire Department to handle. Chiefs’ organizations in various parts of the country have taken this matter up, and the result has been the formulation of schemes of mutual assistance, calling for a systematic running card among the various Fire Departments involved, so that in case of need the department calling for help may know not only which city or village to call upon, but also the number and type of apparatus that will be sent from the assisting departments upon such a call.

The importance of such an arrangement of systematic help cannot be over-estimated, and its influence upon the matter of the national fire losses will, with the spread of the idea, be of the greatest benefit. A Chief—knowing that by lifting his telephone receiver be can summon help from the nearby departments —will have a feeling of security and confidence that would otherwise be impossible. This is especially true of the smaller Fire Departments. Heretofore the small town Chief’s foremost apprehension has been the rapid spreading blaze that, before the limited facilities for fire fighting at his command could begin to cope with the situation, becomes a conflagration, threatening to wipe out his entire community. But with the knowledge that ample assistance is ready and waiting at his instant call, this fear will largely be dissipated.

Two Notable Examples of Systematic Assistance

Two notable examples of this tendency in fire fighting may be cited—one in New York State and the other in Kentucky. These plans of systematic assistance in widely separated communities show the widespread dissemination of the idea that Fire Departments are largely dependent upon each other in case of need and that the most scientific and modern method to pursue is to be prepared before the occasion arises and to know just how this assistance should be rendered to be most effective.

Westchester County Plan Arranges for Zones

An organization that has made considerable progress along the lines indicated is the Fire Chiefs’ Emergency Plan, composed of the heads of departments of Westchester County, N. Y. The Fire Departments represented in this county guard a series of communities in which are high class residential property of great value, scattered over considerable territory, and fires in which would represent heavy financial loss. In order to. cope with serious fires in such towns and villages, the organization appointed a Ways and Means Committee, headed by Former Battalion Chief Ray Wooley, of Larchmont, N. Y., to formulate a scheme of assistance that would meet the situation and provide a plan of mutual assistance among the Fire Departments of the county based upon modern fire-fighting lines. The report of this committee has just been submitted to the organization and it is reproduced herewith in substance;

Report of the Ways and Means Committee

Fire Chiefs’ Emergency Plan of Westchester County, N. Y.

(Revised and Amended to June 1, 1934.)


After deliberation, your Committee believes the most direct and efficient way to put the “Emergency Plan” into effect is to do it by zones, or territories comprising groups of cities, towns and villages, which, because of geographical or other conditions, are so situated as to be best able to assist each other in time of emergency.

Your Committee feels, further, that it can only suggest these “zones” or “groups” and that their establishment must be left more or less to the communities themselves. After all, each Chief knows which nearby communities he can count upon for aid, and which he may be called upon to assist.

To facilitate this work, however, we do recommend that certain Chiefs be delegated at once to arrange for initial meetings of Chiefs of neighboring communities, to begin this work and discuss the “Recommendations,” under “Sections I and II” herewith.

(A list of suggested “sones” or “groups” follows, with the names of Chiefs recommended to take the initiative in calling meetings of Chiefs, in the respective territories.)

It is recommended that these meetings be confined to Chiefs of Department for the present, until organization plans are perfected.

Suggestions for Consideration at “Zone” Meetings

That each Chief know and respect his fellow-Chief’s problems and limitations both as to apparatus, personnel, etc., and as to the political situation.

That he know the communities with which he will be associated in the work, and that he have more than a nodding acquaintance with the chief officers thereof.

That he know and understand fully the details of Sections I and II herewith.

That the discussions, at meetings, insofar as possible, be of constructive nature; “Business before pleasure.” That where possible, records be made of important issues and decisions, and little left to chance; that, where possible, the Secretary’s office be advised of meetings and operations.

That Chiefs attend meetings of Chiefs of communities in “Zones” or “Groups,” which may only indirectly concern their own community. Because of their equipment, or geographical location, etc., they may be called upon to aid a community at some distance which, normally, might be expected to secure aid from a much nearer community.

Most important of all: that frequent periodic drills be held in the different “Zones” and among the different communities; these to approximate actual conflagrations, or special emergencies. At these drills the calls for help are to be transmitted and responded to, apparatus directed to its place, etc.

That special efforts be made to enlist the cooperation of officers of paid departments, and that the experience and knowledge of these professional firemen be used wherever possible.

It is suggested that at each meeting a thorough discussion of the fire hazards of a certain city, town or village, be had. This should bring out much valuable material for the Chief of that community. He will profit thereby if he uses this material.

General Recommendations

We suggest that each Chief post conspicuously in fire alarm headquarters, such data as the names of neighboring communities, telephone numbers, Chief Officer’s name and telephone number, the telephone number to call in an emergency, any instructions as to the calling, the telephone number of the authority to call for gas and electric control, water supply, ambulance, medical and hospital service, etc.

If desirable, each Chief can list the equipment and personnel of neighboring communities on cards, or charts and these can be posted for ready reference. This, in addition to filing the complete data covering all countv apparatus, equipment and personnel, which may come to him through the Secretary’s office, or otherwise.

Every Chief should drill his own officers in their parts, in the event of a conffagrfation or other emergency.

Note: We append a suggested “Assignment Board” (or Chart.) such as might be used by “Mamaroneck.” This chart is only a suggestion. To it may be added “Water Supply”; “Hospitals and Ambulance Service;” “Nearest Doctors”; “Gas and Electric Service,” and any other useful information. It is suggested that these “Assignment Boards” be the modern type, with removable white letters on black background. to provide for changes in personnel, equipment, etc.

Section One—Information Each Chief Should Have Concerning Extent of Aid Available From Neighboring Communities.

Number of nearby communities from which aid can be drawn.

  1. Nearest available suitable apparatus, equipment and manpower.
  2. Nearest available reserve water supply.
  3. Classify Communities (Cities, Towns, Villages) from whom aid may be wanted in order of their relative importance. Classification to be based upon
    1. Ability to respond quickly with desired equipment and men in all seasons, all conditions of weather, traffic, etc.
    2. Nearest “Special Equipment” that may be required (based upon limitations of own department) such as: Deluge sets, Deck Guns, Aerial and Special Lad der Equipment, Inhalators, Oxygen Tanks, Foam (Liquid and Powder) Foam Generators, etc.
    3. Nearest available water supplies, considering facility of hookup. Take into consideration also: who is best qualified to make the hookup (the aiding Community or the one requiring help); what equipment and men are required for the necessary hookup; who shall be notified of the necessity for hookup, by whom, and how, any legal complications that might be created by such hookup.
    4. Nearest available police or military forces, and who shall be notified, when, by whom, and how. Nearest available medical and hospital service, ambulances, etc.

Section Two—Information Each Chief Should Have Relative To His Calling For Help and His Ability To Utilize Such Aid.

  1. Knowledge of all actual and potential hazards in his Community that may create an emergency requiring assistance. Knowledge of his Department’s ability— or lack of it—to cope with any and all such emergencies,
    1. It is recommended that each Chief chart, or blue-print all special hazards, each chart indicating location of same, all nearby (available) hydrants, or other water supplies, location of local apparatus, and intended location of incoming apparatus, etc. Note: The blue-prints used by the Larchmont Fire Department suggest the method that may be followed.
  2. Determination of proper authority for calling aid:
    1. This authority cannot be left to chance, or any one person. Proper delegation of authority is necessary, with knowledge of the Code Word.
  3. Complete detailed knowledge of the Department under his command:
    1. Apparatus; b—’Equipment: c—Personnel; d—Water Supply, Mean and Maximum fall Seasons): e— Police Protection: f—Hospital, Medical, Ambulance, Red Cross Service; g—Gas and Electric Service.
  4. Determination of proper authority for directing and placing incoming aid, and delegation of that authority:
    1. Recommended that on all “Full” Alarms, and particularly in the event of serious fires, or emergencies where aid may be required, a man, or men, vested with proper authority, be located at Fire Headquarters for Police Headquarters, if alarms are transmitted therefrom) ready to transmit calls for aid upon direction, and ready to meet incoming apparatus and direct it to its proper station, in accordance with Paragraph 1 (a) above.

Kenfucky Section Adopts a Move-Up Schedule

A similar movement to that referred to in the foregoing description has been taking place in the state of Kentucky. The following is a resume of the plan adopted in the latter state:

The Fire Departments of Northern Kentucky, comprising the counties of Kenton and Campbell in that state, have adopted a Move-up Schedule which provides for the coverup movement of apparatus in case of a second alarm. Under the name of each town, is listed the name of the assisting department and the apparatus that are to be sent. Also, in the same listing is named the department which is to participate in the move-up, the apparatus to be moved and the name of the town to which it is to be sent to cover up. For instance:

Erlanger and other Elsmere Company to remain in own quarters as stand-by in case of another fire in either S. Ft. Mitchell or their own cities

Three special first alarm movements are provided for. In two cases these are at South Fort Mitchell—respectively St. John’s Orphanage and the Villa Madonna; and in the third, Speer’s Hospital. In these instances, the call is to be treated as a second alarm, “due to the lives and property at stake.”

There are six departments listed under Kenton County and six under Campbell County. Any additional companies not provided for in the move-up plan are to be classed as special.

Rules and Regulations Governing Operations

The Rules and Regulations covering the operation of the Northern Kentucky Fire Departments’ move-up schedule are as follows:

  1. Covington, Ky., Fire Headquarters shall be considered as the Fire Tower or Clearing House for all second alarm fires in Northern Kentucky.
  2. Move-ups shall be made by any department in Northern Kentucky, as per schedule, at the request of the Operator at the Covington Fire Tower without question.
  3. The Chief of the Fire Department of the city in which the second alarm fire occurs shall be commanding officer at the fire.
  4. In requesting any fire to be made a two-alarm fire, the Chief of the department making the request shall call the Covington Fire Tower, give his name, and the location of the fire, or have one of his men or some responsible person make the call and state that they are calling for him.
  5. Any equipment that is needed beyond that which is regularly scheduled as (for use at) a second alarm fire shall be requested through the Covington Fire Tower, which will, in turn, dispatch whatever equipment is available.
  6. This schedule shall be subject to change whenever it is deemed necessary by orders of the Association.

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