Easton became the latest Massachusetts community to opt-in to two mutual aid laws for public safety and public works.
The laws allow Commonwealth communities to share resources with one another in the event of a disaster.
"If we were to be impacted or overwhelmed by any man-made or natural disaster, we could ask for assistance or we could be asked to provide assistance," Easton Fire Chief Kevin Partridge told selectmen this week.
Partridge told selectmen that Easton is not bound to deploying resources to other communities if it is unable. While the town would cover its own costs, it would be eligible for reimbursement and afforded the same rights, duties and privileges as if it were in town.
The agreement does not apply to day-to-day mutual aid. Easton Police and Fire Departments already work with surrounding communities on a daily occurrence.
"We have signed agreements for surrounding communities for day to day," Police Chief Kevin Partridge said.
A similar public works mutual aid agreement was approved by selectmen as well, which "allows municipal officials to share public works resources in support of every day, non-emergency operations across boundaries."
"We don’t have to respond, we don’t have to provide the service," DPW Director David Field said. "It’s opt-in and you’re allowed to do it if we had the resources available."
Selectmen unanimously approved both laws.
"I know I’d like other communities to respond if we faced a situation like they faced in Monson, which was overwhelming to the public safety departments there," Board of Selectmen Chair Colleen Corona said, referring to a tornado that struck the western Mass. town in 2011.
Below are full details of the mutual aid laws provided by Easton's Emergency Management Team:
Statewide Public Safety Mutual Aid Law GL C.40 sec 4J
- Multi-discipline mutual aid for cities and towns
- Used when impacted and overwhelmed by a public safety incident or disaster
- can receive or share resource
- Provide only if we have opted-in as required by law
- Not required to provide the assistance
- Emergency Management, EMS, building inspectors, health agents, DPW, Fire, medical reserve corps. Police, etc.
- Cover your own costs unless agreed otherwise
- Eligible for reimbursement
- Afforded same duties, rights and privileges as in our town
- Same rights to defense, immunity and idemnifications
Statewide Public Works Municipal Mutual Aid GL C.40, sec 4K
- Creates statewide public works municipal aid agreement
- Allows municipal officials to share public works resources in support of every day, non-emergency operations across boundaries
- Able to realize efficiencies and savings
- Help to prevent mitigate, respond to and recover from public works incidents
- Procedures to follow and document requests and uses