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Municipal Support - Mutual Aid System

The Mutual Aid System is a no-charge reciprocal system of emergency response and assistance that towns, villages and municipalities in southern Manitoba can access through their local fire departments.

The main focus of the Mutual Aid System is to make a large number of resources available in a pre-arranged, organized fashion at no additional cost to the town, village or municipality requiring assistance during a large- scale emergency situation.

Mutual Aid is activated when the fire or emergency is beyond the capability of the responding fire department, or there are more fire calls or emergencies than the local fire department can respond to. For example, if a fire in your community was too large for your local fire department to handle alone, Mutual Aid could be called upon for additional equipment and personnel. The same would apply if a tanker or train carrying dangerous goods was involved in an accident.

Mutual Aid also offers back-up protection. If the local fire department is attending one fire or emergency, this system provides response to any other fire or emergency situation in that town or municipality. All of this additional assistance is provided at no cost to the town or municipality.

The Mutual Aid System is set up under the provisions of Section 264 of The Municipal Act. This Section empowers municipalities to enter into agreements with other municipalities for providing or obtaining fire protection or emergency response assistance. Mutual Aid does not affect or replace this authority.

There are 17 Mutual Aid Districts and 3 Northern Training Districts in the Province. These districts were organized using geographic considerations and response time of neighbouring departments. The Northern Training Districts because of geographical location do not provide mutual aid during emergency responses.

Each Mutual Aid District has a coordinator who is responsible for the smooth and orderly response or equipment from one town or municipality to another. The coordinator also ensures that during a Mutual Aid call, no town or municipality is left without back-up protection in case some other emergency occurs elsewhere in the area.

Each fire department in the Mutual Aid District has a pre-arranged running assignment specifying which neighboring departments they are to back up and in which priority (i.e. 1st, 2nd, 3rd called in). In other words, each fire department in a district knows beforehand which town or municipality they may be required to assist, and in what order. They are also aware of the neighbouring fire departments resources.

The authority for requesting assistance rests with the fire chief or the officer in charge in the chief's absence. Either personally or by directing a member of their department, the chief will notify the "first help call" department that assistance is required, giving pertinent information and directions. Before responding, this department notifies the District Mutual Aid District Coordinator that they are answering a call for assistance, giving the name of the requesting fire department. The coordinator arranges for necessary back-up coverage. If additional help is required at the scene, the chief will call direct to the area coordinator, who will arrange such assistance and further back-up coverage for the responding fire department's area of responsibility.

A town or municipality must pass a by-law to participate in the Mutual Aid System. Mutual Aid calls are on a no-charge basis; but calls, which fall under a fire protection agreement, are subject to the terms and conditions of that agreement. It should be noted that to qualify as a Mutual Aid call, the "home" or requesting fire department must be fully committed. Any other forms of assistance would fall under a fire protection agreement.

In addition to the assurance of assistance and specialized equipment when required, participation in the Mutual Aid System has many other advantages. The Fire Commissioner's Office provides considerable equipment and training benefits to Mutual Aid Districts.

Breathing air compressors are provided at strategic locations within the districts to refill breathing air tanks for all participating fire departments.

Financial training incentives of $6,500 are annually allocated for each mutual aid and northern training district to train, certify and/or upgrade

Fire Service Instructor training is provided to qualified fire fighters from mutual aid districts. These instructors are employed by the districts to train and evaluate other fire fighters.

Mutual Aid training programs conducted in the districts include Fire Fighting Level I; Fire Fighting Level II; Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) and other Manitoba Emergency Services College (MESC) specialty courses. Please call the MESC for further information.

Mutual Aid Incident Report (.DOC File)

Office of the Fire Commissioner
Manitoba Emergency Services College

1601 VanHorne Avenue East
Brandon MB R7A 7K2
Telephone: (204) 726-6855
Fax: (204) 726-6847
Toll Free: 1-888-253-1488
Email: firecomm@gov.mb.ca