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Automatic aid means the highest level of customer service through faster emergency response from the closest and most appropriate fire service resource, regardless of boundaries.
In June 2015, the leaders of four Spokane County fire agencies – Spokane Valley Fire Department, City of Spokane Fire Department, Spokane County Fire District #8 and Spokane County Fire District #9 – gathered near Upriver Dam to jointly announce a historic new collaboration to provide automatic aid across fire district borders.
Automatic aid (“Auto-aid”) has been in the making in this region for more than a decade. On June 1, 2015, the Spokane City Council approved automatic aid agreements with Spokane Valley Fire Department, District #8 and District #9, followed by the approval of reciprocal agreements.
“I’ve seen how automatic aid can work to improve response and deliver critical resource depth in times of real disaster,” said SVFD Fire Chief Bryan Collins. “Automatic aid means that when large events are escalating and requiring more resources, other departments are automatically dispatched to continue providing timely response to ongoing emergencies across our community.”
The new agreements build on the incremental steps already taken with Auto aid agreements in the event of water rescue between the City of Spokane Fire Department and Spokane Valley Fire Department, and full borderless automatic aid that has been in place between Spokane Valley Fire Department and Spokane County Fire District #8 since 2014.
In addition to borderless response, fire crews actively train together which allows them to get to know each other and become familiar with equipment and tactics. This familiarity has strengthened the shared response in a true emergency, such as brush fires. Crews from Auto-aid departments respond quickly and work together seamlessly to save lives, structures and minimize damage.
“Mutual aid” has been in place for many years in the Spokane region. This means that if requested, neighboring fire department resources will respond. Automatic aid eliminates the need to ask. Instead, the closest, most appropriate resources are dispatched to respond to the emergency, regardless of borders.
Automatic aid is provided at no cost to partnering agencies and impacts operational response only, with local control and governance remaining in the hands of elected officials.
During an average month, Spokane Valley Fire Department auto aid responses average 3-5% with Spokane Fire Department and Spokane County Fire District #8. Automatic aid with Spokane Fire Department officially began on August 6, 2015 @ 0800.