SIKESTON -- Four fire departments of the Region E fire mutual aid system are back after sending equipment and manpower to the Springfield area, according to Capt. Jim Hailey, fire mutual aid regional coordinator.
Fire engines from Sikeston, Bloomfield, Kennett and Cape Girardeau were sent to lend assistance to the Springfield area departments. A fire fighter from Jackson was also sent to complete the Cape Girardeau engine crew requirement.
The Region E crews were released Saturday and the state Emergency Operation Center stayed on alert until Sunday.
All had been sent to a staging area at Logan-Rogersville Wednesday afternoon and were re-deployed to where they were needed from that point.
The Region E crews replaced equipment and crews from St. Louis, Cole and Boone counties. Other regions had been operating there since Monday afternoon.
The departments were sent because calls for service were exceeding the abilities of the local departments due to the power outages caused by the ice storm and the improper use of heating equipment.
Trees were falling across roadways, further inhibiting the departments from responding: houses were burning up because fire crews could not get to them, officials said.
The Region E crews reported being sent to a number of calls including at least one structure fire and numerous carbon monoxide emergencies.
The Sikeston crew was sent to a smoke investigation at a nursing home and assisted in evacuating two wings of the facility before mitigating the problem.
The Bloomfield and Cape Girardeau crews responded to a fully fire engulfed gas station/convenience store. The Bloomfield crew reported responding to two additional structure fires since their arrival.
Mutual aid is a system in which participating departments agree to provide services to assist other departments with incidents that exceed their capabilities.
This is most often called upon for large fires during which fire departments from three or four cities work together to provide enough personnel and equipment to extinguish the fire.
The Region E teams worked with local officials to ensure the that proper equipment would be dispatched and staged for use. This type of incident usually attracts a lot of people that come into these areas on their own. Even though they are well-meaning, this is a very dangerous practice and one that is prohibited under the National Incident Management System.
Operating under National Incident Management System is a requirement of both federal and state regulations.
The Region E fire mutual aid system consists of 13 counties in Southeast Missouri from Iron and Madison counties in the north to the Arkansas state line and from the Mississippi River to Ripley and Wayne counties in the west.
There are 75 departments within this area of which about half participate in the mutual aid system.
Having larger departments, Sikeston and Cape Girardeau were not as affected by the deployment as Kennett and Bloomfield. Other departments within Region E agreed to provide manpower and equipment to these towns if needed.