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I am requesting input on the pros and cons of forming a countywide fire district. I am the chair for an exploratory committee on taking our 21 individual fire departments and forming a countywide fire district. 16 of the 21 departments are now fire improvment districts and the other 6 are municipal. We are looking into a countywide district due the lack staffing, improving response times and lower insurance ratings for the entire county.

Thanks and have a safe holiday season

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Bob-

I don't envy you in the least. As the committee chair, it doesn't matter the outcome. You are going to be seen as dirt from half the folks and power hungry from the other half. They are going through this very thing on a smaller scale in Catoosa County, Georgia and the the end is nowhere in site. The volunteers are disenfranchised. The politicians have been voted out for allowing it to occur. It has been very ugly.

I do however believe that a county wide department is more beneficial than a bunch of individual departments. It is more efficient to have all the stations on the same page at multi-company incidents. Good luck and God bless.

Kevin
Bob,
I have to agree with Kevin when he says he does not envy you. I work on a city department that contracts a peice of euipment to a county wide response district. We provide a utility truck for air supply on county calls. So my input here is limited. What I have seen is alot of ego and chest bumping at times among the various county departments. It seems to almost always revolve around a lack of accountabilty of monies allocated and there use. Please keep in mind I am only relating what I have seen, no real facts. I'm only making the suggetsion that you should employee an independent oversight person to account for money, maybe it will dispell some of the future problems.

As far as the pros go, I see alot of great guys who are now getting the training and euipment they need to move forward. I have seen a great improvment in response times and quaility of customer service. So is this a fight worth waging, I think so, if everyone keeps the big picture in sight. The goal is to provide a better service to our customers. Work hard and lead them to that goal, you will see the benefit.
I can write you a book! We are entering into year #2 of a county-wide system. The best advice that I can give you is to first, make sure that everyone is in the loop about what the purpose of the consolidation is. Second, Make sure to get input from all involved. If people feel like they are being listened to, it will make it a whole heck of a lot smoother. Be honest with everyone involved. Meet with all the folks that are running the individual depts. (or stations) and let them know what the vision and purpose of the consolidation is. My advice would be to sell it on the improvements that will be made in services delivered. DO NOT try to sell it based on ISO or insurance savings. For the most part individuals homeowners will not save enough on their insurance to cover the tax increases that come along with changing and/or standardizing your organization. As for the municipalities, will those city depts be contracted, or absorbed with the consolidation? We had 18 vollie stations, 3 Municipal Depts, 6 Rescue Squads, A HM Team, A Technical Rescue Team, and a Dive team that were consolidated into a county-wide service. Our Council passed an ordinance to create a special tax district in the un-incorperated areas of the county and set the initial tax millage at 2.9 mills. This millage is set to increase yearly until it hits 6 mills. These funds are set aside for large capital expenditures. The municipalities are contracted to provide services in their respective call areas that are outside the city or town limits. My advice is simply this: 1) Get everyone together to present the goals, and purposes of the consolidation. 2) meet with each individual chief or director (whatever you call the guys that are running each inividual dept) and ask them what their individual concerns are, and what they each expect to get out of the consolidation. 3) Form an advisory committee from a cross-section of the county (you can even let each reigon nominate someone for the position) 4) Start by forming the goals and objectives together. 5) As a group develop a three year plan. 6) Together gain buy-in from the citizens once everyone is on board 7) Move forward and progress. Is it going to be easy? Heck NO! Will everyone get exactly what they want, and be happy? NO! But if you want to do it, and be successful, I feel that this is the easiest way. I have been there, and I can tell you exactly what not to do! Feel free to contact me if you want to talk further.

BE SAFE!

EGH-PFB
J. Scott Loftis
Scott,
Thanks a million for your input. I would very much like to talk with you on this subject, you have alot of input since already dealing with this. I will get back with you after the first of the year. Thanks again and have a safe christmas holiday.

Bob

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