Automatic vs. Mutual Aid

Automatic aid is assistance that is dispatched automatically by a contractual agreement between two fire departments, communities or fire districts. ISO will recognize an automatic aid plan under the following conditions:

Automatic Aid

Mutual Aid

Mutual aid is assistance that is dispatched, upon request, by the responding fire department. Usually it is requested upon arrival at the scene. Mutual aid should also be defined by a signed contractual agreement.

Generally, Mutual Aid programs are only recognized for water supply.

When managed properly Automatic and Mutual Aid Programs can be very effective. Remember when signing an Automatic Aid Agreement you are attempting to offset specific needs of the service area. Once you have met your need, credit will not be given for excess apparatus. Participating Automatic Aid Departments should have a clear and concise understanding of your needs and respond accordingly. If departments are not responding with proper equipment the specific need will not be met and credit will not be awarded. Also when giving Automatic Aid, be sure 50% of your firefighting capacity stays inside your service area and does not respond.

Tips for establishing a successful Automatic and Mutual Aid Programs

All members with assisting departments should respond on fire apparatus, not in private vehicles. This will cut down on the number vehicles responding to the incident location causing less congestion. It also will place personnel in a company form prior to arriving on the scene. This will help the incident commander in three major areas.