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Have we reached a point in the fire service to better serve our communities and cities, we should regionalize our resources to respond to the increasing need for manpower to fight fires ,money for budgets and equipment, by eliminating borders and creating a response area supported by a regional tax ? I believe the Idea has merit. Your Thoughts.

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The federal fire departments have really gotten on board with this concept. The major problem being, at times there are geographical obstacles within the "department" as most military installations do not abut each other. However, training, equipment and other resources seem to flow easy, and at a cost savings. As with any regionialization, there will be bugs to work out. On the other hand, especially here in New England, it will take a long time to break the "territories" that exist. It dosen't make sense to have three tower ladders, two of them a mile apart, serving a town of 15 square miles or so, just becuase they are in different tax districts.I am in favor of regionalizing, so long as common sense prevails.
Hey Jeff,

In Monmouty County NJ, Fort Monmouty Has resources that are used quite frequently to assist local communities sucn as Haz-mat, Tec Rescue, Rit and manpower. They also share their training facilities when requested. As for the redundancy of specific equipment it takes its toll on the taxpayer as well as the fire service at replacement time. When you talk about closing companies or consolidating to one building to better serve by pooling manpower not so much the equipment ,it's voo-doo. Its shocking to see millions of dollars of equipment sit in a firehouse because there is no one to man it. About 10 yrs ago a citizen wrote about a fire truck that pulled up for a fire with a driver ,he left the truck running and returned an hr latter, The citizen stated it was a half million taxi cab. As a taxpayer myself, I have a problem spending a million dollars on a tower ladder for a company with 3 responding members only at night with 4 towers surounding us. Put us in one building wtih a 75/100' stick manned as 2nd out and a different resource locally at a cost much lower is more realistic. It's just a matter of time !!!!

STAFE SAFE !! Dennis
In my area, a better way needs to be looked at.
I think the local government should take a more active role in assuring a good standard of Fire & EMS service.
County Commisioners, Township Trustees, Village Mayors, council members, whoever.
A county tax, overseen and distributed properly, would be better IMO.
There are also departments on outer edges of counties that have coverage areas outside their county into an adjoining county.

Regionalizing and breaking home rule may need to come about because of the people within a department, the people served by a department and increased demands due to urban growth.

To me, regionalizing comes about from 3 main areas:
1. Common sense, reason and logic used to better manage resources for better community service.
2. Degrading department, or departments, recognizing the signs and doing something about it.
3. Full-blown failure of a dept(s). Point of no return reached or crossed.

Maybe more reasons, or combinations of the three?

Some related articles from FE which talk about signs and symptons that may lead to regionalizing:

Jim Grady
March 1, 2006

Motivating Your Volunteer Department
March 1, 2008

John Fitzwilliam
January 1, 2001
Hey Paul,

I started this discussion solely on the premise of gathering information to at some point in the near future to make a stand on the need to regionalize. The three points you have mentioned have all ready accured in my county and I totally agree that local and county government need to play a bigger role. You have hit it on the head when stating this. But in Monmouth County this is not even on the minds or agenda of those it should be. They feel all the FD's are fine because they are filled with smoke and mirrors and cannot see they are ready to implode. My Dept. has had problems for quite some time and trying to deal with it now. What we get in return is statements such as, "we will do whatever it takes to make sure it does not happen". And when someone gets hurt they are never to be found. Right away it becomes the ?'s problem because they should have done something! When Quite a few have been trying for years. The Volunteer fire service blames the career Depts for all that happens incluiding regionalization, when in actuallity we are our own worst enemy ! Thanks for the comments, They support highly what I have been trying to pass on to others.I will also be looking at the back issues for the articles.

STAY SAFE !! Dennis
If you are looking for studies and evaluations of the process, check the EFO papers at the NECT Learning Resource Ctr. Many of these are available for download in PDF format.

Thanks for your reply but I am no longer in a position to make an effort to see this come to light. You see, because I am very progressive and believe in following policy and truly believe that in my town that this has to happen politics have taken its toll and I have been removed from the Fire Department because I do my job.(see suspended without due -process in groupes fire service law) It is truly a shame to see that in my 35 years that nothing has realy changed in the Volunteer service bringing the tremendous shortfall of volunteerism nation wide.

Thanks again for your Reply

STAY SAFE !! Dennis



Joe I like a person with an open mind, you present an objective well informed approach. I was intently interested in all you had to say up to the last sentence. "CHIEFS" what to do with them. My experience with chiefs is they for the most part are good leaders & get the job done. Some are too wrapped up with the POWER. If a chief can't accept working with a black lid he's lost perspective. We work for the community, if were in gear working, someone's having a bad day & our job is to minimize the citizens bad day. Teams of people work to accomplish the task, if you need to be the top dog maybe you should take a step back to rethink why you're there.
To answer the last question, the best man/woman will continue as chief the others can mount there white lid on the wall & pick up a hand tool or retire. He can then use phrases like "when I was chief".

Stay safe brother



Joe Campbell said:

Apparatus is not the issue here either. Like you we have no shortage of equipment, just people to get it where it needs to be, when it needs to be there. And like you describe we are becomming more and more a bedroom community for Indianapolis just 15 miles to our north. We, and most of the departments around us that would be "ripe" for consolidation utilize paid stand-by to fill shifts, day and night. Our particular department though funds the paid stand-by from the old Corporation department budget, and funds the career staff from the Fire Protection District. The funding is non-transferable. The only way to make paid stand-by more attractive is to pay it better, which would mean a tax increase....fatal words in this present economy.
I can see where the "have nots" would think it to be great, but did the "haves" feel as though they should carry the lions share of the power since they would be contributing the most?
Consolidation is a very hot topic here in central Indiana right now. In Marion County (Indianapolis) there are 9 Townships with the City of Indianapolis Fire Department in the dead center of the County. Two of the townships have been consolidated into IFD already and the political objective is to force all of the townships to consolidate by 2011. I left one of the townships after 23 years mostly because of the threat of consolidation, it may seem somewhat selfish, but I did not want to be on IFD when I got into the fire service, and I saw no advantage to being forced to be an IFD firefighter after 23 years at a very fine, progressive and well trained department.
Was that kind of power play avoided in your experience, and if so how? What about the absorbtion of existing officers and especially chiefs?
Thank you for your correspondence. Joe

Regionalization has worked well in Washington State where there are many departments creating larger more efficient organizations. They generaly do not save a lot of money on the front end but over the long term, there is a reduction in duplication of staff, equipment and at time's stations, hence a long term savings.


Look at RCW52.26 for the state law providing those guidelines.


Be safe

Interesting discussion here...  When I entered the FS I did not know that other areas of the Country did not have Local Government, Counties, State and Feds.  I was on another website and made the comment "send your RFP to the County FD, State FD and Fed FD" which was smashed by those in the NY area since there is no such thing.


In California, as many know we have City FDs (LAFD, City of Orange, San Diego Fire/Rescue, La Verne FD, Sacramento City and many, many, many others), Local Government (Cities and Counties; LA Co FD, Orange County Fire Authority, Ventura County FD, San Bernardino County FD, Santa Barbara County and many, many, many others), State (CalFire, State Parks and OES) and the Feds (DOD, Bureau of Indian Affairs, BLM, USFS and others) and locally we have seen a few FDs go County FD.  


As the financial belts (Federal and State) are tightened, I see more Regional FDs emerging.  It truly can be done as we've shown in California, Texas, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, Nevada, Arizona and other States.  In California, we frequently lose our barriers and little "domains" to give help, but it is great to receive help when you need it.  Learn from our mistakes (San Fransisco Fires) and get on the same page as much as possible for the State/Region.  I don't care how big of a FD you are, we all need help eventually. 

Hey Mike,

 I started this post in April of 2008 and here it is Feb, 2011 and the push is on, not just in NJ but on a national level. The politicans have seen the light before we have and they will make us go blind. We have failed to see our future and will now suffer the rath of government as they take more and more of what we need to do our job. Just one town away, the FD has 7 companies in a 1.5 to 2 sq miles and are requesting the town replace a 1978 eng. Do they really need it? Five Engines, a truck and a rescue remain.  We have lost site of our responcibility to those who pay our bills and now uncle sam will take control. The clock continues to click but not for long. Regionalisation and consoladition will be done at the hands of gov. and the way they see fit. If we only took the blinders off in 2008 !!


   Stay Safe !!! Dennis

Wow, it's finally happening there to.  Locally, regionalization has been very beneficial with the ability to upgrade and make heavier responses for F/S, R/Q, T/C and such.  No boundary limits, no politics and more manpower to the calls that really need it.


Hopefully you side will see the positive outcomes that we have seen.


Stay safe my friends.....

Hi all

A very progressive leader of a very progressive board took a number of years to achieve his ultimate goal of nationalising the Fire Service in New Zealand in 1976.  Now I understand that NZ is a very samll country and nationalisation does not seem such a big deal, but the reality is that each city and town local authority, there were 270 oodd, had to hand over control of their Fire Service to a national body. NZ is the size of California, but with only 4.5 million people, the geographic diversity and distance between towns is significant, and I would compare it to regionalisation of a small state in the USA.  Australia too have regionalised Fire Services.  Each State has its own service.  Some of these staes are very large, similar to a the size of some states in the USA.  The NZ Fire Service has over 300 stations, 8000 firefighters (paid and volunteer) and nationalised 270 odd seperate fire districts from cities with over 1 million people, to tiny remote villiages.  It has and continues to work very well.  There are huge advantages in terms of legislation, infrastructure, training and equipment standards, IT systems, and the list goes on and on.  I have very briefly visited some departments in the USA, including North Hudson.  They have a fantastic department and are an example of the success that can be achieved.  One of the barriers, I guess, is a sence of loss of identify and perhaps control.  It is not like that.  Although a chief may have a different rank name and a different badge, he will still be the figurehead of the Fire Service in that area.  The community will still feel a sense of ownership and pride in its Fire Department.

It can work.  Explore the opportunities and embrace the challenges.  Be safe all.


Mike D, NZ Fire Service


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