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Delaware firefighters to use universal mayday code

All firefighters in Delaware will soon use the same mayday signal in an effort to better coordinate in worst-case scenarios


By FireRescue1 Staff

DOVER, Del. — All Delaware firefighters will soon be using the same universal procedure for when a fellow firefighter is in danger.

Delaware Online reported that firefighters are moving toward using the same mayday signal in an effort to increase coordination in worst-case scenarios.

Currently, different dispatch centers and stations use independent responses to maydays, so the change will ensure that each of the 61 different departments will have a uniform response.

The new policy requires the firefighter in danger to transmit the “WWW” — who is the mayday from, where is the location and what is the issue?

A dispatcher will then deploy a standard five-second warble tone and say, “All units, a mayday has been declared, radio restrictions unless there is an emergency. Incident commander, did you copy for mayday?”

"It puts all the firefighters on the same page. We respond with the county. The county comes in and responds with us on large fires," Wilmington Fire Chief Michael Donohue said. "When a mayday comes in, that's serious business. We don't want to have a communication breakdown."

Seaford Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jack Wilson began standardization efforts three years ago after hearing inefficiencies of individual agency responses during a mayday signal over the radio.

Thanks to his efforts, the Delaware State Chiefs Association approved the adoption of a universal procedure in June.

"Trying to get 61 companies to agree, that's a task in itself. But they understood the serious nature," Chief Donohue said. "Everybody was on board with it."   

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