Brewton clarifies process of responding to fire calls outside city limits
Published 3:04 pm Thursday, October 22, 2020
Albemarle Fire Chief T. Pierre Brewton spoke before City Council Monday night about the ways the fire department is allowed to respond to incidents that are outside its jurisdiction or city limits.
Brewton explained that the fire department can only respond to calls outside its jurisdiction under three conditions: if the department is under a mutual aid agreement, where a neighboring jurisdiction requests specific assistance; if it’s under an automatic aid agreement, where the department is in contractual agreement with another in the county and each unit is dispatched simultaneously to respond; or if an incident occurs “in plain sight” of Albemarle firefighters, who would then have a duty to respond.
“If we respond without any type of invitation and on our own accord, then we’re in violation of our mutual aid, automatic aid agreements,” Brewton said, noting that each response zone in the county is earmarked for a specific response unit.
He added that being able to respond to an incident is “an addition, it’s a help to all departments under public safety.”
The mutual and automatic aid agreements are put into place under the county’s Fire Chiefs Association because no one jurisdiction has all the personnel and resources that they need, he said.
Brewton told the council that several factors, including the nature of the call (outside fire versus inside fire) and how the call is dispatched, determine which departments respond.
Councilman Dexter Townsend asked Brewton during a September council meeting to provide clarification for why the department didn’t respond to a fatal motor vehicle accident just outside city limits on the Northeast Connector.
Brewton said the department didn’t respond because where the accident occurred was outside the department’s response jurisdiction.
In a memo to City Manager Michael Ferris, Brewton explained that the current language in the adopted mutual aid and automatic aid agreements has been discussed during meetings with the other fire chiefs. Brewton said that he, along with Albemarle Fire Marshal Michael Roark and the other chiefs, will continue to work on the aid agreements “to make them more relevant to the needs of the community.”
The agreements are created to make sure the county is responding to incidents and helping the public in the most efficient way possible.
“Regardless of who we are, our whole entity, as public safety officers, is serving the public as best as possible,” Brewton said.