Barnstable County Control, the Mutual Aid Center for Cape
Cod, is located in the Barnstable Sheriff's Department Communications
Center at the Public Safety Building in Barnstable village.
The Cape has
a well developed mutual aid system that saw its beginnings in the 1950s
when area fire chiefs made agreements with each other to provide help
should it be needed. Large forest fires across the Cape required the
response of help from many departments as did large building fires.
The Yarmouth Fire Department served as the mutual aid center for
decades, keeping track of apparatus and equipment lists, vehicle in and
out of service status, and dispatching of mutual aid by basic run cards.
In 1994, the mutual aid center went to the "County" at the "Radio
Shack" in the Sheriff's Department. This center had been the CMED
center since 1974 and was well adapted to assume the responsibilities for
mutual aid as well.
The system has continued to evolve over the years. Computers are
now used to determine mutual aid moves and to track vehicle status.
A magnetic map board is also used to show visually where apparatus is and
where "holes" in coverage may exist on the major incidents. The
Center conducts a daily roll call of stations at 0915 daily to verify
radio operability and vehicle status. The first Sunday of each month
is also a tone test day when each department's mutual aid tones are also
Originally the "county" radio frequency 33.70 was also used by most of
the towns for ordinary operations. As departments began to get
busier, they migrated to their own channels. The "county" channel
has been maintained for mutual aid dispatch and inter- department
communications. Several years ago the Cape went to an 800 mhz
trucked radio system. This improved communications in a number of
There is a "Mutual Aid Dispatch" channel on talk group 38032.
This is the primary mutual aid dispatch and inter department channel.
There are now also (3) OPS or operations channels used for fire ground or
other incidents. OPS 1 (Channel C4) is talk group 38064. OPS 2
(Channel C6) is 37978. OPS 3 (Channel C8) is 38000. The first
available channel is assigned on request by BCC.
Barnstable County Control serves a number of rolls during mutual aid
incidents. Departments contact BCC via radio and request aid for
their specific incident and district area. The run cards for those
types of incidents (Structure, brush, special calls, etc) and the
districts are all kept on the computer. The BCC dispatcher looks up
the run card and verifies the availability of the assignmed apparatus and
tone dispatches the assignment (ie: 2nd alarm, 3rd alarm, etc...)
Units are then dispatched by the individual departments. They
respond to the scene on the assigned OPS channel or for cover age on the
talk group of the town being covered.
The run cards within this website carry data on file at BCC as of the
date recorded on each card. They were effective by the implementing
department on the date "revised" They are posted on the more recent
date on the page. In some cases, run cards may be outdated
(apparatus listed that is no longer in service, has been assigned to
another station, etc..) It is the responsibility of each department
to write and provide their own run cards to the county via the Fire
Chief's Mutual Aid Committee. In some cases there cards may need to
be updated. It is also possible that the cards on this site contain
errors or can be out of date. They are here for general information
and are not definitive or guaranteed to be followed exactly for a variety
We hope however that they will demonstrate the systematic use of the
mutual aid system and provide a reference point for understanding the
mutual aid system.