Each MABAS-IL Division has a designated primary and secondary Dispatch Center which serves as the single control point for resource tracking and coordination during an activated Box Alarm. Working closely with the Incident Commander, the MABAS-IL Dispatch Center insures that personnel and resources respond to, arrive at, and return from each incident. Although there are other dispatch centers throughout the State of Illinois, each MABAS-IL Division has a designated primary and secondary dispatch center. This allows for redundancy and backup capabilities in the event the primary dispatch center can not fulfill its roles and responsibilities at the given time. In the event of an emergency, a local agency only needs to provide the Box Alarm number, Level, and staging area for the incident to set into motion the process of bringing the resources necessary to aid in the mitigation of the incident.
The MABAS-IL Dispatch Center makes notification using a common VHF radio frequency stating the agency requesting the Box Alarm, the address of the incident, and the Nature of the Incident followed by announcing the pre-determined resource response. This systematic approach eliminates the guesswork for the surrounding dispatch centers as to what type, and how many, resources and equipment are due to respond. In the event that an agency cannot respond with their assigned resources or personnel, the MABAS-IL Dispatch Center will move to the next level to find a replacement to meet the demand. Resources responding to an incident are tracked by the MABAS-IL Dispatch Center using either a paper or computer based log, which is updated throughout the incident to insure resource accountability.
Once a local Incident Commander determines that the incident is beyond its local response capabilities, the Incident Commander will request a MABAS-IL Box Alarm to be activated. Typically there are five levels to the Box Alarm, which provides pre-determined resources, equipment, and personnel on each alarm level. If the incident cannot be mitigated with the resources and personnel through the fifth alarm, an Inter-divisional Box can be requested. An Interdivisional request is made from one Division to another for a specific type and amount of resources.
The Box Alarm requests along with the Interdivisional request are for speed of response. If an incident is beyond the aforementioned capabilities or the incident is of a disaster type response where resources and personnel will be needed for an extended period of time, i.e. days, weeks, or months, the Illinois Statewide Mutual Aid Plan will be activated.
This Plan is activated through the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and is coordinated by a statewide mobility control center. The primary statewide mobility control center for the activation of the Statewide Mutual Aid Plan is the Regional Emergency Dispatch (RED) Center. Orland Central Dispatch Center acts as a backup to RED Center. The Statewide Mutual Aid Plan provides fire, EMS, and special operations team capabilities and resources to the affected disaster area or incident.
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Any major change to a fire communications system needs to be carefully examined by experts before implementation. Be sure to verify all information before making any decisions that affect fire radio communications. In all cases, make sure radios are fully licensed and all installations and implementation policies are in accordance with the manufacturer's specifications.