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MABAS is an acronym for Mutual Aid Box Alarm System. MABAS offers a statewide mutual aid response system for fire, EMS and specialized incident operational teams. Statewide mutual aid systems have been in existence since the late 1960's. Pre-September 11th, MABAS was heavily rooted throughout northern Illinois. Since September 11th, MABAS has rapidly grown throughout Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, and parts of Iowa and Missouri. Day-to-day MABAS extra alarms are designed to provide the fast response of emergency resources to communities during ongoing emergencies.

MABAS is broken down into 70 divisions throughout the state with McHenry County being denoted as "Division 5". When a fire agency determines the resources on scene may not be sufficient for an incident, a Box Alarm is requested. Each fire agency has Box Cards (pre-plans) for specific incidents. Box Alarms are intergovernmental agreements that provide efficient and effective responses to any emergency situation. 


These pre-plans specify which outside resources are due for structure fires, water rescues, mass casualties, HAZMAT's, and much more. Box Alarms are dispatched through one of two centers in McHenry County. Incidents occurring in the the northern half of the county (McHenry County Sheriff's Office) and the southern half (Southeast Emergency Communications). If an incident escalates or becomes prolonged, the Box Alarm may be upgraded. A 5th Alarm (highest local level) has a potential of bringing in resources from 20+ miles away. 

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MABAS Divisions 4 & 5 Specialized Response Teams 

The MABAS Divisions 4 & 5 Specialized Response Teams (SRT) works with its over 40 member fire departments across northeastern Illinois to coordinate specialized response services to protect the health and safety of the public. Teams are trained to respond to a wide range of emergencies such as hazardous materials releases, structural collapses, rope, confined space or trench rescues, water rescues and/or recoveries as well as wildland fires.

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