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Tennessee Mutual Aid System 

“What Can It Do For You?”

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For several years, the Tennessee Fire Chief’s Association (TFCA) and the University of Tennessee Institute for Public Service (UT-IPS) has been working towards the development of a mutual aid deployment plan. The primary benefit of the plan is to provide fire service resources in quantities beyond the means of any single fire department. The plan can be used for large fires and natural or man-made disasters that have overwhelmed the local community’s capabilities.

This effort is being coordinated through the TFCA, UT-IPS and the International Association of Fire Chief’s (IAFC). The IAFC is supporting the effort by providing grant monies for plan development as well as technical support. Tennessee has lead much of the nationwide project through developing innovative concepts and processes to manage mutual aid. 

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The Chief’s association has developed a good working relationship with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) in creating this plan.Our goal is that the plan will become an annex to the Emergency Services Function ESF 4 to the Tennessee Emergency Management Plan (TEMP). We hope our plan becomes a model for other agencies and service disciplines to use.

We believe that fire chiefs understand the needs of other fire chiefs better than anyone else because we have common interests, experiences and can speak the same “language”. Effective management and deployment of emergency resources will be one of the most significant impacts on life loss and severity of injuries to the affected population in a disaster. Another benefit is that the system can also be used for national disasters in outof-state deployments.

Key Concepts of the Plan: The plan is directed towards enhancing disaster management at the local, county and state levels of government. This is accomplished by:

1. Providing a simple method to immediately activate large quantities of fire department personnel and resources.

2. Establishing positions, roles and responsibilities necessary to activate and maintain a viable fire service response plan.

3. Complimenting other disaster plans at the local and state level.

4. Utilizing the National Incident Management System which has been adopted by the State of Tennessee.

The plan’s goal is to provide aid to a local fire department when the normal mutual aid resources are exhausted and help is still needed. Local emergency management directors will continue to handle coordinating efforts of local resources within their counties and this plan will only be activated when those resources have been exhausted. The response to a request for help shall be a coordinated effort including state and local emergency management agencies to avoid freelancing and overwhelming already over-taxed local operations. The responding resources are intended to work IN the local incident management structure and are NOT there to take over control from the local fire chief.




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