Tri-city automatic aid agreement will help to better protect citizens in emergencies

Posted at 11:49 PM, Jun 04, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-04 23:52:59-04

Chesapeake, Va. - It was a symbolic scene outside the Chesapeake Conference Center on Thursday.

Fire engines from Chesapeake, Norfolk and Virginia Beach raised their ladders together as a sign of what's to come.

"What this does is literally erase the boundaries and so rather than dispatching the closest in your city we dispatch the closest to your residents."

This tri-city automatic aid agreement has been in the works for 14 years.

A month ago, all three cities started a pilot program. The results spoke for themselves.

"May 4th at 9 a.m. and since then, we've had some 32 incidents that we've done the automated process."

Other metro areas like in Northern Virginia have had similar agreements between departments for years. It was technology holding back these three cities from synergy.

"We have radios that I can simply with the turn of the knob change the channel from Chesapeake to Virginia Beach and just as easily talk to my own firefighters. Some of those technology advances have allowed us to get where we are today. The desire was there a long time ago, but it just took a while for the technology to catch up."

The new system will also give firefighters peace of mind.

"The concerns of if somebody gets hurt, who's responsible if you're in another city and so we've worked through all of those issues.”

It's taken a long time to get all three fire departments working together. Now that they are, people in those cities will have triple the protection.