FLINT TWP. — Calls for emergency help could come from as far away as Chicago under an amended Michigan Mutual Aid Box Alarm System Agreement (MMABAS) approved by the township board for the fire department’s participation.
A MABAS is a prearranged response and assistance plan provided to a Requesting Party from an Assisting Party.
“It is a user-driven system designed to streamline the requesting and providing of emergency and fire services resources across Michigan for day to day mutual aid and for large scale events such as major fires, train derailments, tornadoes wildfires, domestic or foreign terrorism and other events that may overwhelm local resources,” said Michael Burkley, assistant fire chief.
Michigan joins Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and several other Midwest states that have implemented the MABAS program, he said. Currently there are 21 MABAS divisions in Michigan covering the state’s Emergency Management Regions 1, 2,3,5 6 and 7. Within those regions are 250-member fire departments; an Urban Search and Rescue Task Force; Technical Rescue Strike Teams, Hazardous Material Response Teams and an Incident Management Team. Another 16 additional divisions are in the process of being formed, Burkley said.
Genesee County is in the early stages of developing its MABAS. Flint Township is among the first to join along with the cities of Grand Blanc, Burton, Fenton and Swartz Creek, he said.
They have signed on to an interlocal agreement covering all aspects of the system including its purpose, executive board and its duties; jurisdiction over personnel and equipment; compensation for aid; insurance and liability; waivers of governmental immunity; permits and licenses and more.
The goal is to have the MABAS agreements signed by midsummer and implemented by the end of the year, Burkley said.
Burkley said that he and Fire Captain Thomas Stadler spent quite a bit of time figuring out the township’s response plan for everything from a heavy box like the Genesee Valley Center mall to the simplest house fire.
The MABAS simplifies a commander’s job, Burkley said. He can ask for a second alarm but does not have to specify who or what because it already is spelled out by region in the agreement. Trustee Frank Kasle asked about cost sharing and if the arrangement changes the way things now work with mutual-aid.
Burkley said there is a local mutual aid pact but the MABAS takes it from a local level to regional, state and out of state. If there is a 911 issue in Chicago they can request help from Flint Township which retains the right to opt out if responding to the request would overtax local resources, he said. The agreement applies to both full-time and on-call firefighters.