Which cities are involved in the Fire Command Staff Collaboration?
There are five cities working together to form the Fire Command Staff Collaboration study: Brentwood, Clayton, Maplewood, Richmond Heights and Rock Hill.
What is the intent of the Fire Command Staff Collaboration Study?
The intent is to determine the feasibility of combining the administrative and support functions of the five participating fire departments. The five cities cooperatively engaged Emergency Services Consulting International to provide a review of each city’s fire department, staffing practices and evaluate the potential for future cooperative efforts among the department’s administrative components. A report was issued in the spring of 2016 that included recommendations for developing a permanent collaboration and it is being utilized to move forward on the Fire Command Staff Collaboration Study.
Is the Emergency Services Consulting International Report available online?
Yes, the report is available here.
What is the total population and land area served by the Fire Command Staff Collaboration Study?
The total land area served by the five study departments equals approximately 9.39 square miles with a combined population of 45,108.
What is the status of the Fire Command Staff Collaboration Study?
As of September 2016, the governing bodies of the five cities have approved a joint resolution authorizing the city managers/administrators and fire chiefs to move forward with the development of a joint fire command staff structure (Joint Fire Command Collaborative). Three working committees have been formed: Governance, Operations and Communications. The committees consist of staff, both non-fire and fire, from all five cities.
What is the cost of the study?
There are no hard costs incurred for this study.
Will my taxes increase as a result of the implementation of the Joint Fire Command Collaborative?
The implementation of this plan will not lead to increased taxes. The ultimate goal of this initiative is to improve services and prepare our fire agencies to meet the demands of the present and future while not increasing overall staffing levels or the associated costs. While future cost avoidance is possible through increased efficiency, immediate cost reduction is not the goal of this initiative.
What is the timeline for the study?
The goal is to complete the study within 6-9 months.
Will the implementation of the Joint Fire Command Collaborative cost more?
The initial feasibility study suggested there are significant opportunities for a combination of higher service and lower costs that are likely to result from a joint fire command by these cities. The results of this next phase of detailed analysis and refinement will give a clearer picture of the savings and improved efficiency and effectiveness of these improvements.
Why is a joint Fire Command Staff being evaluated?
The mission of the fire service has grown with great intensity and scope over the past few decades. The rapid increases in technology and how those advancements affect the world in which we all live have created a very heavy burden on emergency services.
Emergency responses involving hazardous materials, domestic and global terrorism, complex vehicle accidents and fires, pandemic disease, civil disorder, mass shootings, light rail, heavy rail, varying natural disasters, high rise residential and commercial occupancies, large retail complexes, expansive manufacturing facilities, and many other demands on the fire service have surfaced or become much more complex in the past few decades alone, with some rapidly increasing in just the past few years.
The expectation for the fire service to provide emergency medical response became obvious decades ago. However, the level of service provided has expanded on a monumental level. Many lifesaving procedures are performed at the incident scene by your local paramedics, within minutes of notification, to a level even the most highly skilled doctors in emergency rooms couldn’t do just a few decades ago. In many cases, the difference between life and death takes place in the first few minutes of emergency care. Seconds matter and the fire service has responded with increased skills through increased comprehensive training, educational requirements, and the resulting skill attainment.
This approach yields the capacity to meet these technical demands by redeploying existing leadership in an efficient shared command structure.It is obvious the mission and jobs of our first responders have grown tremendously over the years. In addition to increased training, education, and skill attainment, all of the departments have increased the number of first responders staffed to help meet this growing need for services. The demands and need for the highest levels of expertise in our management and administrative staffs assigned to lead and manage our first responders have greatly increased as well. However, the staffing levels assigned to management and administrative positions has grown very little and in some cases been reduced.
What role does management play in the fire service and the collaborative?
As the years have passed the fire chiefs of each agency have had to take on many different additional roles. The individual fire chiefs must have greater education and expertise in every aspect of emergency management while also being experts in human resources, personnel management, planning, finance, governance, logistics, public relations, and many other less obvious but critical roles of managing and leading a modern fire agency. The fire chiefs know being proficient in every aspect of leading and managing a modern fire department is challenging at best if not impossible.
What are the benefits of combining resources?
The fire chiefs and city administrators / managers agree there are clear benefits to combining our resources. Combining the chief officers into one collaborative management team will allow individual chiefs to focus on specialty roles that are now demanding greater oversight and focus. Allowing the chiefs to manage one or two critical roles as opposed to every role offers clear and obvious benefits in efficiency that will lead to better service to our first responders, a safer working environment, and improved services to our residents and the community as a whole.
What areas are being evaluated during this process?
The evaluation process the three committees have begun will help determine the role each of the departments will play and adjustments will be recommended to create the best overall operations when the departments begin working under a joint fire command staff structure. Each fire department in the five cities operates with a high level of expertise and quality service to the community. The evaluation process will help the joint fire command better serve the residents and businesses of each of the five cities by implementing overall improvements.
Will my Fire Department remain the same?
All fire departments will remain with each city. Around the country, at nearly every larger fire agency a similar management structure where the chief fire officers serve in specialized roles is in place. We understand one of the concerns is that this approach seems like “big government” in which the smaller communities have little influence and identity. It is important to understand the Fire Command Staff Collaboration would not be a merger of the city’s fire departments. Each city would continue to “own” and individually fund their current fire department. However, the upper-level administration and leadership of the fire departments would be shared under a joint management structure. This approach blends the efficiency and increased the effectiveness of a larger management group without sacrificing local identity and influence. No jobs will be lost.
Each of the cities have different policies and regulations. How will a joint management team manage conflicting policies and regulations?
One of the goals of the joint management approach is to standardize policies and procedures. One of the primary tasks of the joint management team will be to review all of the different policies and procedures and develop standardized common systems.
Has something like this been done before?
While still uncommon in the Midwest, very successful examples of similar fire service joint management structures can be found in many other parts of the country.
Will more cities be added to the Joint Fire Command Collaborative after it is formed?
Currently, these five cities have agreed to do this study; it is too soon to address adding more cities to the cooperative.
Where can I find more information about this initiative?
More information is available here.