Wash. fire departments to dispatch across boundaries

Departments will no longer have to make a formal request for mutual aid across jurisdictional boundaries; dispatch will send the closest and most appropriate resource

The Spokesman-Review

SPOKANE, Wash. — Four of the largest fire departments in Spokane County announced an agreement on today that will send the nearest fire or medical crew to emergency calls.

No longer will department brass have to make a formal request for mutual aid across jurisdictional boundaries.

Instead, the county’s combined fire dispatch computer will identify the closest and most appropriate vehicle and crew and send that rig quickly to the emergency.

Fire Chiefs Bobby Williams, of Spokane; Bryan Collins, of Spokane Valley; Jack Cates, of District 9; and Tony Nielsen, of District 8, appeared at a joint media event at Frederick Avenue and Upriver Drive today to announce the agreement.

The location is near to where three of the jurisdiction boundaries meet. The chiefs said that the agreement is historic in its ability to improve responses.

Assistant Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said the announcement was preceded by more than a year of training to ensure that each agency would approach calls with the same protocols and terminologies.

Just like in sports, he said, “We need to be familiar with the plays.”

Schaeffer said the agreement “really eliminates the bureaucracy that results in lost time.”

He said that areas on the urban fringe will benefit since agency boundaries meet in those locations, including 57th Avenue on the South Side or the North Division Street Y.

The agreement “essentially drops the borders for our neighboring agencies,” Schaeffer said. “We will send the closest, most appropriate resource.”

The agreement allows interagency dispatches without any exchange of funds, Schaeffer said. As a result, the four departments are approaching the status of a regional fire force.

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