Collaboration key to firefighting success

To the Editor:

On the evening of Friday, Jan. 12, as citizens began their weekend, the Sheboygan Fire Department began a different activity.

For the second time in the department’s history, a MABAS alarm was activated.

MABAS is an acronym for Mutual Aid Box Alarm System and it started in Northern Illinois in the late 1960s.

MABAS is a proven method for municipalities to share resources and it now includes 61 counties in Wisconsin.

Sheboygan County is designated as MABAS 113.

This particular situation started when a call came in for a fire on North Avenue.

Upon arrival, the crew of Ladder 4 encountered heavy flames in one building, fire extending to a second building and a burn victim in front of the burning buildings.

Once a building fire is confirmed, our fire department procedures require the department to send seven of our eight city-wide resources.

Three engines, two trucks and two paramedic units responded to this incident, leaving one paramedic unit to cover the city.

Battalion Chief Risse requested a command staff recall, which notified the six off-duty chief officers that a large incident was occurring.

Assistant Chief Koch initiated a staff recall-text and nine off-duty firefighters, paramedics and officers reported for duty on their day off.

These individuals staffed two of the engines and our standby paramedic unit, which provided coverage for the remainder of the city.

While the department was fighting the North Avenue fire, they were notified by countywide dispatch of a working fire on the roof of Nemak Corp.

Deputy Chief Butler and Battalion Chief Nicolaus were released from the North Avenue fire to become the incident commander and division chief at the Nemak incident.

At this point, fire department resources were depleted and the MABAS box was activated.

The incident was immediately escalated to a secondlevel MABAS box request.

The combined first and second-level MABAS box activations brought in personnel and apparatus from Cedar Grove, city of Sheboygan Falls, Haven, Kohler, town of Sheboygan, town of Sheboygan Falls and the town of Wilson first responders and rehab trailer.

Sheboygan County also sent their mobile command post to assist.

During the time of the North Avenue and Nemak fires, the Sheboygan Fire Department also responded to three emergency medical calls and a car fire.

Loss of lives was avoided and loss of property was limited, because of the cooperation, professionalism and positive mindset of many individuals, departments and municipalities.

First, the members of the Sheboygan Fire Department who respond regularly to requests for help with skill, professionalism and servants’ hearts.

Firefighters, paramedics, lieutenants, captains and chief officers accessed and answered the evening’s challenges.

This includes the offduty personnel who left their homes and loved ones to serve their community.

When a fire incident happens most people don’t consider the other city departments who are integral to a successful response.

The police department managed traffic control, scene safety and occupant accountability.

Bus drivers and buses to warm and rehabilitate firefighters and Nemak employees were made available by our transit system.

Our water utility provided the water source containing the adequate volume and pressure required throughout the duration of both incidents.

The new countywide dispatch center’s personnel performed extremely well. They gathered information, dispatched the appropriate apparatus, tracked the incidents, recalled staff, coordinated communication and requests and quickly and accurately dispatched a first and second level MABAS box.

MABAS Division 113 represents the 23 fire departments in Sheboygan County, eight of which responded to our call for assistance that night.

The feedback received indicates the outside departments contributed qualified and effective fire fighters, company officers and chief officers.

They responded to the scene, executed the instructions of the operation’s chief and every company and chief officer performed above and beyond the call of duty, reflecting their departments’ strong leadership, training and commitment to the fire service.

On behalf of the city of Sheboygan, thank you to members of our Sheboygan Fire Department, responding MABAS departments, contributing city departments and you, our citizens, for your continued support.

Michael T. Romas

City of Sheboygan fire chief


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