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How have your departments dealt with rivalries between mutual aiding departments?

We have a department or two that when they have a working fire (structure or brush) they will call all the departments around us and skip us completely. I understand why these rivalries exists and they are most of the time for stupid reasons and don't seem to make sense when we have all made the commitment and effort to protect the community and help fellow fire fighters out. So how have you tied loose ends to make these stupid rivalries disappear?

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In my recent observations a change in leadership at either department can help. If the two chiefs don't see eye to eye on issues they do tend to try and keep thier distance. I know this helped us with one of our neighboring departments. We also had a problem with another dept. several years ago because Dept. X's safety officer pulled all of his people back from entering and assisting our FF's during a room and contents fire because he thought the roof looked bad and was going to come down. He was right about the bad roof however it ws on an addition to the house that had burned years before and although never repaired the homeowner had closed that room so it was not accessible from the interior anyway. Even after our chief explained this to him he would not budge and ordered ALL of his people off the scene. Luckily one member disobeyed his order and stayed to provide water from thier tanker. Once again after Dept. X's safety officer was out of office we started working with them more.
We have also set a policy that in the case of a major fire at one of our chemical plants that we would call in the third dept.(FHFD)which would actually pass through another dept.'s (FMFD)district to respond to assist us. But our reasoning for this is FMFD is more centrally located to respond to other incidents in our district or in FHFD's district. We spoke to FMFD's chief to explain this. Anyway it may not be the rivalrie as much a logistical isue.
This is a touchy subject. I have went through this also. The hardest thing for us was to talk to those departments and figure out a way to work together. You are there to help the public, but if you can not rely on each other for backup then that is a safety issue. The next department should be called not skipped due to those few extra minutes that count dearly. Those few minutes could mean the difference between life or death. This could be as simple as a chief or officer's problem that could be worked out. The next thing we tried was the hardest. Any call you have even near those other departments, call them. Even if you think you might need some help call. We also started inviting them to training meetings. Eventually our problem went away. This may not help you much at all, but it would be something to consider.
Most of these issues where created before our Fathers were born. Its like a school rivalry nobody knows why but it just continues. It seems about the time we have them almost gone someone or something will stir the pot and it boils up again. How to correct it, I do not know if i did i would be rich.
Hey Roger,

One of the ways our department has found to deal with this issue is to invite the neighboring department to training and to every structure fire we have. This has helped out tremendously and we now train on a regular basis with them and respond mutual aid to their structure fires. Hope this helps out.

Stay Safe!!!
I have had to deal with this very situation, with a small department I currently volunteer with. ( I am also a career FF) You have to talk it out, find out what is going on and why there are these issues. If your leadership cannot work this out then you basically come to a dead end, but as individuals you can attempt to make the situation better.

The example I will give you is as follows we had a mutual aid fire in the other districts area, we arrived and had 6 individuals from our department on our apparatus, so we were able to do vertical vent and search and assist with fire attack. The crews on scene did a great job, but the fire department with jurisdiction did not like what we did, they felt we should have not done fire attack the way we did and should not have gone on the roof and did vert vent. The bottom line we did a great job, kept the fire from entering the home (it was a garage fire) saved the family cat and dog and ventilated the smoke out of the structure and made sure there was no extension. They asked us to go to a meeting, we went, upon our arrival the media was there and wanted to do a story on our differences, yes they were called by the other fire department and things did not go well. We left the meeting and they did an article with out us being there to defend ourselves, the bottom line we did not have to, we did the right things at the fire. (This was agreed on by several neighboring fire departments in our area, whom reviewed the video, pictures and 911 tapes).

To shorten this story, the bottom line was the neighboring department was in turmoil, they were part paid and volunteer, their bond levy failed and they had just merged with a fire department we shared a border with and this was not going well. The FF's from this department were unhappy, angry and did not like to work with us for what ever reason. Within a year the Chief was fired and their Training Chief left and they lost several of their paid FF's to a neighboring career department. I asked each of them why they left. Bottom line, poor leadership, people with personal agendas, lack of team work, lack of trust, lack of leadership, older company officers were living in the 70's still and being unsafe and ran their station like a tyrant not a leader.

My word of advice if it does not work out and the discussions do not come to a resolution have your department lead by example. Call the neighboring department every time you need assistance lead from the front. Start training together this will allow you all to see how you operate on scenes, get to know each other and find a common ground. Show them your professionalism at all times and don't back down from trying to work with them.


Bottom line we are all here doing the same thing and we are definetly all brothers and sisters working towards a common good. This issues needs to be discussed from the top down. We need to be protecting not only the community but each other and if this cannot be done, then why are we doing this job volunteer or paid it does not matter.
Have a meeting and set guide line in writting. Then have enough discipline to not impede upon others first due unless your company happen to be around the block. Give the courtesy and respect to them by offering to back up their hose lines if they choose to take the lead. Hopefully the light will turn on and the courtesy and respect is return, if for some reason it is not be steadfast in your discipline.

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