ISHPEMING — When firefighters need a helping hand, they often look to their neighbors to help take care of blazes that can threaten life and property.

The City of Negaunee, Ishpeming City, and Ishpeming Township are among fire departments that participate in an automatic aid system. If a call comes through to central dispatch regarding a structure fire, firefighters from a neighboring department will always be called out to provide assistance.

“Before, we would have to wait until we got on scene or on our way and kind of make that decision on our own,” said City of Ishpeming Fire Chief Ed Anderson. “So this takes the decision-making out of our hands, and it’s been already pre-planned, and we found that it’s worked out well in the short time that we’ve been using this automatic aid system.”

Having the extra manpower can save anywhere from five to ten minutes of response time, and if help isn’t needed, it’s easier to cancel a call than to initiate one. Many rural fire departments are primarily staffed by volunteers, so having the extra assistance available can be beneficial during work hours.

“During the daytime, many people are working, so it just gives us that extra edge of safety. We know someone else is coming to our aid,” Anderson added.

The decision as to which neighboring department is called out is made based upon location of the fire.