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Fairfield, West Chester formalize automatic mutual aid agreement

The city of Fairfield has entered into an automatic mutual aid agreement with West Chester Twp., something the township has been working to forge with its adjoining neighbors.

But the concept of the automatic response is “nothing new” for the Fairfield Fire Department, said Chief Don Bennett.

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West Chester Twp.’s automatic mutual aid agreement with Fairfield — and others, including Liberty Twp. and Springdale — would require the closest neighboring fire department to automatically respond to the first fire alarm. This does not apply to ambulance calls. The city and township have had a mutual aid agreement for 35 years, according to the city.

The way mutual aid traditionally works is when the fire department responds, and because of severe weather, the size of the fire or the department is manpower-limited, “then we would get on the radio, call our dispatchers and say, ‘Contact the closest mutual aid company,’” said West Chester Twp. Fire Chief Rick Prinz.

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The dispatcher would then go through a list to figure out which department is closest and that jurisdiction would respond.

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“The difference here is automatic mutual aid, none of that applies,” said Prinz, who has contacted all jurisdictions surrounding West Chester Twp.

Fairfield Fire Chief Don Bennett said they are already dispatched to automatic second alarms.

“If they are going to initiate an interior attack, they have to drop an automatic second alarm,” he said.

The city already has automatic mutual aid on first alarms with northern Hamilton County communities, something that’s been in place for more than 10 years.

Bennett said, “It’s fine with us” to shift to an automatic response on the first alarm to West Chester Twp. “It’s just a procedural matter,” he said. “It’s nothing new for us.”

Fairfield City Manager Mark Wendling said Monday’s agreement “will simply formalize a practice that has been in place for many years.”

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