The Highland Park Fire Department operates to provide emergency service to the City of Highland Park 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. When an incident or multiple simultaneous incidents occur, such that the available local resources are taxed beyond manageable levels, then additional help may be summoned from other nearby fire departments. Similarly, the Highland Park Fire Department provides aid to other nearby fire departments. When fire departments help each other in this fashion, it is called mutual aid.
An organized system for fire departments to provide mutual aid and communicate with each other in times of need has been established, and this is called the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS). The MABAS system provides pre-established responses to various levels of need during several different types of emergencies, when a stricken community requests such assistance.
It should be noted that, in addition to personnel and vehicles responding to the scene of the emergency, resources are sent to the stricken community's fire station to provide coverage within the community should additional incidents occur.
PreDesignated Response Plans
In addition to box alarms for structure fires, communities have predesignated response plans for disasters, multiple-casualty incidents, underwater rescue and recovery, ice rescue and recovery, above-grade rescue and recovery, below-grade rescue and recovery, trench rescue and recovery, hazardous materials incidents, brush fires, fires in areas without fire hydrants and large fire investigations.
Originally started in the northern suburbs in the late 1960s, MABAS now encompasses over 70 divisions in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana and Missouri. The Highland Park Fire Department is located at the northern-most portion of MABAS Division III, which extends from the Chicago border on the south; to Park Ridge, Des Plaines, Glenview and Prospect Heights on the West; Highland Park and Bannockburn on the north and Lake Michigan on the east. MABAS Division III consists of 18 fire departments located within these boundaries. A MABAS executive board promulgates rules pertinent to the entire organization, and each division also establishes policies as needed.