Local fire departments erase borders to help each other respond to fire calls

Local fire departments erase borders...

ORFORDVILLE, Wis. - When the Orfordville Fire Protection District gets a fire call, firefighters from Brodhead and the Town of Beloit will also now respond.

It’s part of a new automatic-aid agreement designed to make sure there’s enough staff to handle the fire.

“Usually what happens is we get a call, the chief has to make a decision, ‘Do I think I need help or not?’” Town of Beloit Fire Chief Gene Wright said. “This really takes that away. The help is coming, and if they don’t need it, they turn us around and we go home.”

Wright said the three departments teamed up because they all have areas in the southwest corner of the county that take a long time to get to.

“So the more resources you can have there quicker, the more chance we have to stop something before it gets catastrophic,” Wright said.

He said the automatic aid is only when responding to residential or commercial fires. It applies to all fire calls in Orfordville and Brodhead and calls on the west side of the Town of Beloit.

When the Rock County Communications Center receives a fire call in this area, all three departments will be dispatched at the same time. Whichever department gets there first will take command.

“The borderline is something we always have to stop at and ask for permission to go across; our insurance coverages, aid agreements, those types of things. The borders are there whether you can see them or not,” Wright said. “With this, it allowed us to forget about it. Move forward. It doesn’t matter where the call is, if we’re dispatched, we go. It just made it easier for us and better for the people.”

Orfordville Fire Chief Brian Colloton said this deal is a good way to improve services without raising costs.

Even though Brodhead is part in Rock County and part in Green County, Wright said there were no problems getting the automatic aid agreement set up with dispatch.

He said other departments have been teaming up to provide service like this in small doses. For example, Milton and Janesville have a working agreement, the Town of Beloit and city of Beloit have an automatic aid agreement and the Town of Turtle and Clinton work together.

Wright said this new agreement with the Town of Beloit, Brodhead and Orfordville is different because it includes three departments and a larger service area.

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