"Mutual aid - help among neighbors - is an integral part of emergency response. Mutual aid becomes more important and more complicated as the magnitude of emergency incidents increases and the size of individual community budgets decreases. Given the current economic and social climate, it is simply unrealistic to assume that a single community has all the resources required to cope with any and all emergencies it may face. The State of California has developed over the last 40 years an exemplary Statewide Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System. Designed as part of the State's overall multi-hazard emergency response, the mutual aid system has been used in a wide range of fire and non-fire incidents. The system is not unique; many States have mutual aid systems. However, because it is exercised continually on the plethora of wildland fire incidents in the State, the system has achieved a degree of sophistication not often seen in other systems. A testament to the respect the Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System has gained within the State, similar systems have been designed, or are being developed, for police, emergency medical services, public works, and other disciplines in the State that have a role in emergency planning and response. This report includes California's Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System and its evolution, how mutual aid is used in major fire and non-fire incidents, and discusses some reasons for its success over the years. The purpose of the report is to share lessons learned to help other States advance their systems and give the fire service in general some useful ideas on providing mutual aid."
U.S. Fire Administration/Technical Report Series: USFA-TR-042/January 1991
U.S. Fire Administration: http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/