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Hays and Ellis County fire departments form partnership


In an effort to improve emergency response for structure fires in and around Hays, the Hays Fire Department and Ellis County Rural Fire Department recently joined forces for a new automatic aid agreement.

As The Hays Daily News reports, under the agreement, if a building fire is reported in Hays, Ellis Count Fire Co. No. 5 will automatically send a responding unit to work with city firefighters and if a fire occurs in a 56-square-mile area in the county’s jurisdiction near city limits, the city of Hays will dispatch a crew.

“The idea is if you wait until you need (backup) and then call for it, it’s too late,” Hays Fire Chief Gary Brown said. “The insurance people are trying to encourage us to do these kinds of arrangements to get enough resources there to deal with things right away.”

Darin Myers, Ellis County Rural Fire chief and emergency manager, told The Hays Daily News that the most critical time for fire growth occurs in the first several minutes, which is also when firefighters arrive on scene.

“Having those additional resources there at that significant time in the stage of fire growth is important for us to have fire ground safety and personnel on the scene,” Myers said. “We always plan to expect the worst and get our resources there initially and not have to wait for them. That’s even more important out in the county, because our response times are a lot longer than within the city.”

Firefighters can experience fatigue when fighting serious fires, so having additional firefighters on scene will allow others to refill their air supply often.

Another benefit of the aid agreement is that it could boost insurance ratings for both the city and the county, long-term, which can result in reduced premiums for area homeowners.

The arrangement also will benefit both the city and county by allowing the departments to receive credit for the other department’s resources, which will boost fire protection for both governments at a minimal cost, Brown said.

The partnership took effect Jan. 1, the same day the first structure fire of the year was reported.