A new automatic-aid agreement among four of this area’s largest fire districts promises to bring faster dispatch, leading to quicker response times.
That was the promise made Monday, when the chiefs of Fire Districts 8 and 9 along with the city of Spokane and Spokane Valley fire departments gathered near Upriver Dam to announce the new pact.
“I’ve seen how automatic aid can work to improve response,” said Bryan Collins, Spokane Valley Fire chief. “Automatic aid means that when large events are escalating and requiring more resources, other departments are automatically dispatched.”
While mutual-aid agreements have existed between pairs of departments with shared borders, it’s unusual for fire crews from a neighboring district to be called into another jurisdiction without a formal request. Now, however, Spokane County’s computerized dispatch system can distinguish which station, regardless of the fire district, is closest to an incident and summon that crew.
“It will provide the highest level of customer service,” said Bobby Williams, chief of the Spokane Fire Department.
Monday’s meeting at Upriver Drive and Frederick Avenue is nearly the nexus of the Spokane, Spokane Valley and District 9, which serves north of Spokane Valley, departments. District 8 serves much of the Ponderosa area and neighborhoods south of the Valley.
In effect, the agreement creates almost a “super fire department.”
“In addition to borderless response, our fire crews actively train together, which allows them to get to know each other and become familiar with equipment and tactics,” said Chief Tony Nielsen of District 8. “This familiarity has absolutely strengthened our shared response.
The agreement comes at no additional cost to the departments, who already have benefitted from the shared training in battling a brush fire a week ago.
“This collaboration will serve our communities well as we prepare for what is already shaping up to be an active fire season,” said District 9 Chief Jack Cates.