Automatic Aid Proposals
Both the City of Frankfort and Franklin County Fire Departments have offered proposals for an Automatic Aid Agreement between the two agencies.
Automatic aid is a contractual agreement between two or more fire departments where one department will automatically be dispatched with their neighboring department to structure fires or other incidents according to Captain John Redfern of the Frankfort Fire Department.
Redfern said the agreement depends heavily on mutual training and agreement between the two partner agencies, but it does offer many benefits.
"The biggest advantage is that it puts more firefighters on the scene fast," Redfern said. "All the studies from the National Institute of Standards and Technology show that when you have more personnel on scene quickly fires go out faster, we save property, we save lives."
He added that studies have shown fire doubles in size in the span of about two to five minutes, so having enough firefighters on the scene early enough could greatly aid the department in combating small fires before they become bigger.
Mutual Aid Agreements
The city and county currently have mutual aid agreements, which state that each of the agencies will give the other assistance if called upon. With automatic aid, the departments would still respond to their own jurisdiction but would have the added benefit of the other department automatically arriving with additional firefighters before the department having jurisdiction or shortly thereafter.
National Fire Protection Association Suggestion
Redfern and Fire Chief Eddie Slone said the agreement would help both departments meet recommendations from the National Fire Protection Association, which suggest having 15 firefighters on the scene of a 2,000-foot structure fire.
Under their proposal the County states that their services have been built for a diverse rural community with commercial, residential, urban and rural area in which county trucks are able to carry 1,000 to 3,000 gallons of water.
Chief Slone indicated that even though city fire trucks only carry 500 gallons of water, all the areas to be jointly covered under the City's proposal are serviced by fire hydrants. Slone also points out that regardless of where the water comes from, firefighting is labor intensive and additional personnel on fire scenes is beneficial because it makes the scene safer for civilians, firefighter, and saves property.
Insurance Ratings Concern
A second concern has been the possible negative effect automatic aid could have on the departments Insurance Services Office (ISO) ratings. The ratings are sometimes used to determine insurance premiums. Mr. Nathan Johnson, the Kentucky ISO field representative, clarified that automatic aid would not have a negative effect on either departments ISO ratings. In fact, he indicated that an agreement may improve the ISO ratings because the average number of personnel working a structure fire is part of the equation that is used to determine the final rating.
Supporting Agreement Data
Slone added that last year only two calls were reported in the areas the county has proposed for the agreement, which makes city leadership wonder if the training and coordination would be worth it for use against only a few fires a year. To compare, Slone said that checking data from the last two years against the proposed coverage areas the city is recommending 28 fires occurred in the county that could have been assisted by the city and 20 happened in the city that could have been assisted by the county.