NAPLES, Italy — The Navy and local fire departments recently signed a formal agreement for mutual support of on- and off-base incidents.

The agreement — between Naval Support Activity Naples and the Italian Vigili del Fuoco (fire department) — replaces what Navy Region Europe fire chief John Morris called a “handshake agreement” in a news release announcing the signing. Under the deal, Italian fire departments can respond to major on-base fires, and Navy units can respond to fires close to the Capodichino, Agnano and Gricignano support site bases.

“We’ve always had their help and they’ve always helped us, but this helps expedite the process,” said acting fire chief Cort Jamison. “Both sides will benefit.

“It’s not just our fire department and their fire department [benefiting],” Jamison said. “It’s ... our customers.”

In September 2004, for example, Italian community departments responded to a fire in the cold-storage facility of the Navy Exchange and commissary complex being constructed at the support site.

In the news release, Morris stated that the agreement includes, but is not limited to, structural and aircraft firefighting, technical rescue, and response to hazardous materials and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive incidents. It also will include cooperation on fire prevention programs, public education and training.

Discussions on a mutual support agreement began after Sept. 11, 2001, according to a Navy release, and formal work began after a weeklong joint response exercise last year.

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