Grissom Fire Department lends neighbors a helping hand

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Courtney Dotson-Essett
  • 434th ARW Public Affairs

American author Robert Fulghum once said, “A good neighbor makes a huge difference in the quality of life.” The team at Grissom Fire Department has taken that saying to heart in the helping hand it offers to neighbors at a moment’s notice.

In an ongoing display of regional camaraderie, GFD routinely supports the surrounding communities by responding to emergency runs and requests for help, known as mutual aid.

It’s something GFD has supported and participated in for years.

“Mutual aid for the fire department is used when resources off base are either overwhelmed or it’s an area we can get to faster,” said John Ireland, GFD Chief.

Requests for aid may come from an area fire chief or from what’s known as automatic mutual aid.

“In a certain area, as soon as something happens and people call 911, they dispatch the authority outside that has jurisdiction and they dispatch us,” said Ireland. “So, it’s just like a response on base for us.”

GFD supports seven local Indiana agencies with mutual aid including Peru, Galveston and the city of Kokomo. This support varies with calls for medical treatment, car accidents, fire and high altitude rescue.

For example, Ireland said the department would typically respond to a medical call that falls under the jurisdiction under Pipe Creek Volunteer Fire Department because GFD can arrive sooner and Grissom firefighters are also emergency medical technicians.

In 2018 the department responded to 280 requests for mutual aid. Ireland said the requests ebb and flow.

“We might have a week where we’re really busy and do several, and then we may go a few days and it’s kind of quiet,” he said.

 An example of just that was seen in late 2018 the unit responded to multiple fatalities in a single week.

The start of 2019 included six calls that ranged from car accidents to medical assistance and one fire.

As the name implies, mutual aid is meant to be an equal relationship with help available for GFD if it’s ever needed.

 “Mutual aid is set up to be reciprocal so if we need help on base, like if we had a plane crash or Grissom Inn caught fire and we don’t have enough guys here or we need more equipment, I can reach out to one of these departments that I have mutual aid with and request resources from them,” Ireland said.

All area fire chiefs keep an inventory log of other departments so that each chief knows what’s available and where they can find it when necessary.

He pointed out that even though Grissom isn’t often on the receiving end of mutual aid, the relationship it holds with the surrounding departments is still very important.

“We’re the largest department in the area so we are pretty much self-sustained,” Ireland said.

“We can pretty much take care of anything.  But anytime you get a large response and you’re wearing all that gear, 20 to 25 minutes in to that, you start wearing out. So it’s nice if I can call fresh troops in to augment our guys.”

 “We don’t have much on base that goes wrong because we have such a good fire prevention program that keeps the base very safe,” he added.