Fire chiefs discuss possible update to mutual aid systems

Fire chiefs discuss possible update to mutual aid systems

SCOTT COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - Cindy Taylor says Oran firefighters responded to the fire at her sister's home in Oran immediately. However, when they called for more help, she says there was a problem.

"Everybody knows Chaffee doesn't leave their station, therefore they never should have called Chaffee," Taylor said.

According to Taylor, there is a flaw in the fire departments' mutual aid systems. She says the last department that was called didn't arrive until almost a half hour after the original call.

"[They got there] 28 minutes later," Taylor said. "Can you imagine how fast an old home will go up in flames in 28 minutes? They could have been there and saved my sister's home but instead they weren't called until 28 minutes later."

Mutual aid agreements are set up all over the Heartland.

"If we ever need help, it's already set up for dispatch," Scott County Rural Fire Chief Jeremy Perrien said. "They'll know who is closest to the scene that we are on at that particular time and get them in route to help us."

Chief Perrien says it's a system that needs updating in Scott County. According to Perrien, if there was a fire inside Morley and the firefighters there needed help, with the way mutual aid agreements are set up, Oran would respond first. That's despite the fact that the Scott County Rural Department has a station in Morley.

It was a similar situation at the fire in Oran earlier this month. Chaffee Fire Department was called to help first, but it was unable to respond. Then, the department out of Benton was called and it took them 20 minutes to arrive. Finally, Scott County Rural out of Morley got the call. It only took them 10 minutes to arrive.

The fire chief in Oran agrees that the system could use some updating.

"There need to be some changes set forth," said Oran Fire Chief Steven Cummins. "It's just getting together and doing it."

Chief Cummins says mutual aid is important for all departments, especially volunteers.

"It's dangerous what we do and we need to get along with each other on scene and off scene," Cummins said.

In order to update the system as to which department is called to a scene, the 911 dispatch center has to be notified. Fire chiefs in the area would need to get together and arrange those changes.

The homeowner where the fire occurred earlier this month in Oran says firefighters worked very hard to try to save her home.

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