Benefits consolidating fire departments
According to Fire Chief Mike Hubert, “What makes this process unique is that it has been implemented in incremental steps to provide the benefits of consolidation while avoiding issues of community control and identity that often threaten the success of such efforts.”The City of Arroyo Grande covers approximately 5.45 square miles and serves a population of 17,036.
The City of Grover Beach is 2.32 square miles with a population of 13,213 residents.
While it's estimated that in 1990 there were only 20 to 30 consolidations happening nationwide, we estimate that currently (as of February 2000) there are more than 500 such efforts in one stage or another (Jensen 102).
The primary disadvantage of consolidation is the perceived loss of local control, and this has been the reason why consolidation is frequently opposed by individual departments as well as by local politicians(Managing Fire Services 439).These agreements when drafted, reviewed by attorneys and agreed upon by the governing bodies, will outline the terms of a contract between two or more departments and enable them to legally commingle their physical resources (manpower and equipment) in order to effect savings of economy and efficiency (A Systematic Approach to Fire 42).From the beginning, invite the press, radio, TV, whichever is available to you, to attend board meetings or workshops that address the subject of consolidation or merger (A Systematic Approach to Fire 34).Full-time paid captains and engineers are employed, but the jurisdictions use reserves to fill firefighter positions.Until a few years ago, all three jurisdictions operated fully volunteer departments.
The public safety agencies are testing out a pilot program to have a single operator/dispatcher handle a call for both the fire and police departments.