County Fire Departments Rely on Mutual Aid

By Max Resnik


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August 14, 2012 Updated Dec 5, 2013 at 12:30 AM EDT

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – As budgets remain tight and as parts of the City of Fort Wayne continue to grow, the Fort Wayne Fire Department and other county fire departments rely on mutual aid agreements when taking on fires.

For example, according to City of Fort Wayne Public Information Officer Frank Suarez, the northeast side of Fort Wayne has grown by nearly 2,000 people since the year 2000. Coupled with the growth in population is the growth of businesses, hotels, housing additions and restaurants in the area.

In an effort to ensure public safety in the northeast, as well as all other areas around Allen County, the Fort Wayne Fire Department partners with fire departments from townships and municipalities from around the county. Those smaller departments include but are not limited to Grabil, Huntertown, New Haven and St. Joe Township fire departments.

Fort Wayne Fire Chief Amy Biggs says one of the driving factors in the mutual aid agreements is the economy. She says fire department belt tightening has affected the type of equipment departments can purchase and how big their staffs can be.

“Fire departments across, whether you're municipalities or volunteer, you're not going to get the best equipment. You're not going to get the best resources, so figure out a way that you can protect your community in an effective, cost effective manner.”

Biggs says each department has its own territory for which it is in charge. That, however, does not prohibit the nearest fire department from responding to a fire. For instance, Parkview Regional Medical Center falls under the Huntertown Fire Department’s jurisdiction. Fort Wayne Fire has a station—station 16— that is closer to PRMC than a Huntertown responding unit. Hypothetically, if a fire occurs at PRMC, Fort Wayne Fire would be first to the scene, begin its assessment and then wait for Huntertown to arrive and assume command. If Huntertown responds to a fire in the Fort Wayne city limits before a station within the Fort Wayne Fire Department, the opposite would be true.

Biggs says no money is exchanged between departments. Instead, they simply rely on their agreements.

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