Success highlights county’s mutual aid system
By Mira Brody EBS STAFF
BIG SKY – On Sunday, Dec. 6 at 8:06 p.m., the Big Sky Fire Department responded to a report of a structure fire at 2500 Little Coyote Road. Residents of the condominium complex were evacuated and accounted for, and no one was injured. The cause is still under investigation.
Due to the fire being in a multi-residential unit and a multi-story building, the fire department upgraded the initial First Alarm System to a Second Alarm System, requesting mutual aid from partnered fire departments. Those who responded include the Yellowstone Club, Hyalite, Central Valley, Bozeman and Gallatin Gateway fire departments. The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Department also provided scene security on-site.
“I think as Gallatin County … we’re pretty blessed with our mutual aid program,” said Chief Greg Megaard with the Big Sky Fire Department. “Anytime anyone calls us for help we go, and it’s reciprocal … so when you look at all the units coming up to help us when we need it—which we get opportunities to do the same for them—it’s very beneficial to get all those resources on scene.”
Upon arrival, fire was found on the floor system of one of the units with very little extension into any of the adjacent units. There was heavy smoke and water damage, and the fire was fully contained by 10:17 p.m.
One of the responding departments was the Bozeman Fire Department, who sent out one engine and a Battalion Chief. Operations Chief Mike Maltaverne called the event “pretty significant” due to the nature of the building but noted that since all firefighters in the county have standardized training, once another engine arrives, it’s easy for them to jump in and get to work efficiently. He says the success of last night can be attributed to the county’s mutual aid system.
“Think of it like neighbors helping neighbors or friends helping friends,” said Maltaverne. “So if Big Sky has a complex incident like that, then we go up to help them, same thing if we have a complex incident … it’s a great system, it’s very robust, it gets a lot of firefighters to an event like that much quicker. You’ll see firefighters using [this system] across the county. We count on them and they count on us.”