Representatives from member fire departments of the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System are wrapping up a three-day conference in Springfield this week.
MABAS, as it’s called, is a statewide organization that represents nearly 12-hundred fire departments. An agreement with the state emergency management agency means firefighters can be called to serve in the event of major catastrophes.
Locally, it can be used to provide special equipment to a fire department that may need it for a particular situation.
South Jacksonville Assistant Fire Chief Richard Evans is the vice president of the local MABAS division, which includes Morgan, Cass and Scott Counties.
Evans attended the conference that finished today, and says the topics included railroad safety; specifically, crude oil that’s being transported by rail companies around the state.
“This crude oil is different than normal, because it is highly flammable and burns at a much higher temperature,” says Evans.
“We actually had trains in this area that came through here, so there was training on major incidents. A lot of this stuff needs specialized equipment and supplies, so they made all the fire departments aware of what might be needed.”
Also on the agenda this week was natural disaster preparedness.
“There’s have been some tornadoes in the Illinois area in the last two or three years. We have seen MABAS bring a lot of equipment and resources in,” says Evans.
“All those agencies are able to get funding to pay overtime to their personnel. We have some local assets, but some of the bigger communities have a lot more resources. Some of these resources are on semi-tractor trailer units that bring in supplies and equipment we can operate up to a couple of weeks.”
Evans notes the Illinois MABAS division was called to assist with the 2014 Ferguson, Missouri riots, another topic of discussion in Springfield this week. Terrorism response and preparedness was also talked about.