When fire strikes, local fire departments send mutual aid to help a nearby department out. Now five area departments, the City of Charleston, City of North Charleston, Saint Andrews Public Service District, James Island Public Service District, and Saint John's Fire District are taking that assistance a step further, called automatic aid.
"All of us we all touch in some form or fashion and to get the closest unit to the emergency when the citizen calls is the most important thing," JIPSD Fire Chief Chris Seabolt said.
The five agencies made it officials signing into an agreement with each other. It means the crews from any of the departments can respond to emergencies if they are the closest to the scene.
"We touch City of Charleston. We touch Mount Pleasant. We touch Daniel Island. All of us work together. The other night we were responding to a fire on Johns Island to help them out, and that's what they're there for," North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said.
The automatic aid agreement took more than three years of work for the departments to develop compatible procedures. Members of these departments can now work seamlessly together no matter where or when within the jurisdictions.
Firefighters rotated visiting the other departments for training to make sure the same firefighting methods are used. The Saint Andrews Fire Chief says automatic aid will enhance service to citizens and help keep firefighters safe.
"We are kind of the center of this. It's just a historic day and something we've been pushing for a long time. It's a great thing for the community and citizens we serve," SAPSD Fire Chief Mark Schrade.
Each department involved is responsible for its own crews and equipment cost. Fire crews working outside their jurisdiction are on an as available basis.