Thursday, 31 October 2019 15:04

Working Fire Guideline

Adopted 2004

Revised September 2, 2009


To develop Standard Minimum response criteria that will be comprised of both the minimum levels of manpower and apparatus that would be sent to all confirmed working structural fires throughout Burlington County.  That Standard is ultimately designed to enhance the safety of fire department personnel, while also improving the efficiency of operations, providing the Incident Commander with a guaranteed quantity of critical resources on each alarm.  To accomplish this, when necessary, a regionalized approach comprised of automatic aid from contiguous departments & communities, Grouped Task Forces, and / or Strike Teams will be utilized.  All of which have been selected and identified by the local department, or by the Chief County Fire Coordinator.


The committee was appointed by the Burlington County Fire Chiefs Association, and was charged with establishing a Countywide Standard Operating Guideline that would set minimum response criteria for the entire County.  The Committee is comprised of President William D. Dukes, Sr., Mount Laurel Fire Department, Chairman Chief James White, Indian Mills Fire Department, Chief Frank Smith, Mount Holly Fire Department, Chief Scott Reed, Riverton Fire Department, Past Chief David Gindlesberg, Jacobstown Fire Company, and Chief Steve Pratt, Vincent Fire Company. 


The Burlington County Fire Chiefs Association appointed a committee at the September 2007 meeting for the express purpose to review and as necessary propose revisions to the policy consistent with the July 2007 Radio Policy Manual and most recent standards and recommendations. The committee consisted of Chairman Pat Bigoss. Mount Laurel Fire Department and Burlington County ESTC, Past Chief Steve Taylor, Jacobstown Fire Company and Burlington County ESTC, Chief James Steel, Medford Township, Chief Officer Mark Westcott, Evesham Township and Chief Craig Augustoni, Deputy County Fire Coordinator and Chief Country Lakes Fire Company

Grid Development  

  1. Each jurisdiction is responsible to develop, maintain, and revise as necessary response grids using the template and format contained in the July 2007 Radio Policy Manual. Grid submissions will be reviewed by the County Chief Fire Coordinator prior to release to the Burlington County Fire Communications Center for implementation.

  2. Grid development will be primarily designed into three principal time periods.  The first from 6 AM to 6 PM Monday through Friday, the second from 6PM to 6AM Monday through Friday, and the third covering the weekend & holiday periods.

  3. Each Fire Chief will be responsible to update and submit to the Communications Center revised grid information for their jurisdictions on or before March 31st of each year. Each grid update will be reviewed by the County Chief Fire Coordinator and or designee prior to submission.

  4. Grid development will follow the recommendations for the minimum response capabilities that are detailed within section 2 of this guideline. 

  5.  Failure of a jurisdiction to submit their response grids in accordance with the parameters of this guideline will result in the Chief County Fire Coordinator or designee fulfilling the development of grids for that local jurisdiction.

  6. Interim changes of the grids will also be the responsibility of the local jurisdiction. However, mid-year response changes will be limited to those that are absolutely necessary to address a new or significantly altered condition.  Annual updates and changes of the response grids will be limited to the parameters that are described in section 1.3.

  7. The Fire Chief, when developing jurisdictional grids, will provide for a minimum response. They may utilize the Table below as a guideline. This covers a minimum staff (Certified Firefighters) and turnout time and is a guideline which the local chief may adjust up or down based on local needs.


    Staffing and Response Times




    Staff /Time


    Special Risks

    Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ)




    >1000 people/Square Mile




    500 – 1000/ Square Mile




    < 500 people/square mile




    Travel> 8 miles

    Staffing = 4



    * Upon assembling necessary resources at the emergency scene, the fire department should have the capability to safely commence an initial attack within 2 minutes 90 % of the time

  8. The Fire Chief must assure that staffing is sufficient to effectively complete the following tasks at all structure fires:

    1. Assure life safety considerations including rescue are always provided.
    2. Establish an initial suppression attack while maintaining two-in two-out
    3. Establish sufficient water supply
    4. Establish Sufficient Ventilation
    5. Provide for RIT either dedicated or by assignment of arriving companies
    6. Other tasks may also be required by incident type and jurisdiction and would be in addition to those listed in 1 through 6

  9. The Chief will duplicate the above response model within each alarm for each grid. This will assure adequate resources, apparatus and personnel, to perform the listed tasks in an escalating fashion.


  1. To assure consistent resources to accomplish all tasks while following recognized safety standards and practices the following standards will be followed by all departments responding on mutual aid to other districts:

    Minimum Staff for units should conform to the County Apparatus typing policy. Primary structure apparatus include:

    Engine: 4 Certified Firefighters

    Ladder: 4 Certified Firefighters

    Rescue: 4 Certified Firefighters

    Responding units will announce the number of SCBA qualified personnel. This count will include SCBA qualified drivers. Non-qualified SCBA personnel will not be included in the count.

    Example:  Engine 2231 is responding to district 25 on automatic aid with a crew of four. Their transmission is: “Central Engine 2231 responding to 123 any street with 4”

    Note non-SCBA qualified personnel riding on the apparatus will be accounted by that agency with appropriate personnel tags as adopted by that agency and in conformance with ICS and agency specific requirements and county guidelines.

  2. When a working incident has been confirmed, it is recommended that the Incident Commander request the ‘All Hands Dispatch’ in accordance with radio policy section 3.6. The communications operator will have the responsibility of providing a resource listing to the IC at the twenty minute mark from arrival of the first unit. In the event the working incident is determined so as to prevent the report at that time, the report will be provided as soon as possible but in no case later than the next twenty minute prompt or when the report is requested by the incident commander.

  3. The report will list all apparatus by category type and will also list all SCBA qualified personnel. The IC has the discretion to request additional resources by type and number or may choose to maintain current staffing as reported.

    Example:  “CP 43 from Central advise command you are now twenty minutes into the assignment and have a total of three engines, one rescue and one ladder with Total Staffing of 18.” 

  4. Mutual aid units should only include the designated apparatus on dispatch unless prior authorization/agreement has been secured with the first due department, which would allow for the response of additional units automatically. Units are not to request to be added to an assignment. 

Cover Assignments  

  1. When necessary, and in compliance with the established procedures of the County, when “All companies have been placed in service”, the Communications Center will as quickly as possible move cover companies into the vacant stations.  These covers will be from the companies published in the grids.

  2. Predetermined cover assignments may be replaced by regional task forces as determined by the County Chief Fire Coordinator (or deputies) or by the incident commander.

Support initiatives on Structure Fires   

  1. Upon “All Companies being placed into service the following initiatives will automatically / and as soon as possible will be taken by the Communications center.

    1. Dispatch the designated R.I.C. Company if not already done.
    2. Dispatch the Designated Cover Companies
    3. Dispatch the appropriate utility companies (Both Gas & Electric)
    4. Commence the 20 minute monitoring of operations (Notification of the I/C at the 20 minute time period from the time of initial arrival and at each subsequent increment of 20 minutes until the incident is placed under control)
    5. Ask Command at the 20 minute mark if ALS and Rehab will be needed.

  2. The incident commander is responsible to provide a status update at each 20 minute period described in section 4.1. The report will include a description of actions underway and should provide an indication if current staffing will suffice or if additional resources may be required.

    Example: “Central CP 43 we have two 1 ¾’s in service and are making good progress”

    Example: “Central CP 43 we have one master stream and two hand lines in service.” The IC may add additional information as deemed appropriate by the IC.