MABAS is a mutual aid system, which has been in existence since the late 1960s. Since September 11th, MABAS has rapidly grown throughout the State of Illinois and Wisconsin, and parts of Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and Michigan. Day-to-day MABAS extra alarms are systematically designed to provide speed of response of emergency resources to the stricken community during an ongoing emergency. Today MABAS includes approximately 1,000 of the states 1,200 fire departments organized within 67 divisions. MABAS divisions include 97 of 103 Illinois Counties. The cities of Chicago, St. Louis, and Milwaukee are also MABAS member agencies.
MABAS offers specialized operations teams for Hazardous Materials (42 teams), Underwater Rescue/Recovery (26 teams), Technical Rescue (41 teams) and a state sponsored Urban Search and Rescue team (IL-TF1).
MABAS is a unique organization in that every MABAS participant agency has signed the same contract with their 1,000 plus counterpart MABAS agencies. As a MABAS agency, you agree to: standards of operation, incident command, minimal equipment staffing, safety and on-scene terminology. MABAS agencies, regardless of their geopolitical origin, are able to work together seamlessly on any emergency scene. All MABAS agencies operate on a common radio frequency (IFERN) and are activated for response through pre-designed "run" cards each participating agency designs and tailors to meet their local risk need.
Over 800 MABAS extra alarm incidents occur annually throughout the 67 divisions of Illinois MABAS. The expansion of mutual aid to a statewide system doesn’t require all municipalities and fire districts to join MABAS as a member agency. Existing Illinois statute regarding a Declaration of Disaster allows the Governor to mobilize state assets under the direction of IEMA. Through a memorandum of understanding between IEMA and MABAS and other intergovernmental consortiums, fire, EMS and special operations resources can be activated as a State of Illinois asset when a Declaration of Disaster is initiated.
As a MABAS member agency, your community has the same agreement as the 1,000 plus and other communities - all agreeing to send pre-determined resources, without reservation, to assist a stricken community. Without a formal written mutual aid agreement (such as MABAS), a request for mutual aid assistance becomes a voluntary act, putting the Fire Chief and his employing community who might send the resource, at great risk should equipment be damaged, or a firefighter is injured or killed in the line of duty.
MABAS has been activated on several occasions by Illinois Emergency Management Agency for emergency declarations since the January 16, 2001 Memorandum of Understanding was signed. The responses include; Tamara train derailment, Roanoke tornado, Utica tornado disaster, and Louisiana Hurricane’s Katrina and Rita, Gustav and Ike response and recovery effort through an EMAC activation.
An example of a routine MABAS activation was the City of Chicago’s LaSalle Bank Building Fire, where twenty-two (22) suburban fire agencies filled in at City of Chicago fire stations to maintain continuity of emergency service to various Chicago neighborhoods.
When crisis strikes a community, costs should be the last thing thought of. MABAS provides immediate response resources at no cost or fee under daily operations.