Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Press Release February 16th, 2012
In an ongoing process to explore opportunities to improve efficiencies, the Burning Mountains Fire Protection District, Glenwood Spring Fire Department, Glenwood Springs Rural Fire District and Rifle Fire Protection District have taken a step forward in shared and cooperative services between the agencies. Last year the fire agencies hired a third party consultant, Emergency Services Consulting International (ESCi), to do a feasibility study to evaluate shared and cooperative services between the agencies as well as to give an internal assessment of each agency. After five months of evaluating each agency internally and externally, a final report was released in November 2011 with the recommendation from ESCi to create a Regional Fire Authority (RFA) through an intergovernmental agreement.
Over the next few months the Elected Officials and staff discussed the recommendations made by ESCi. In late 2011, the Elected Officials agreed that the formation of a Regional Fire Authority (RFA) was a viable way to improve and enhance the shared and cooperative services between the agencies.
An RFA allows each community to retain fiscal and governance control of a singular Fire Agency that provides services to the all of the jurisdictional areas of the four entities. It still retains elected officials for each political subdivision. Tax rates remain the same and ‘local control’ is retained. Each political subdivision appoints representative(s) to an Authority Board who are responsible for the policy and fiscal management for the singular Fire Agency. The singular Fire Agency would minimize the duplication of efforts and provide an enhanced level of services to the communities served utilizing existing resources.
In January 2012, the elected officials signed a Memorandum of Understanding and formed a Steering Committee to further progress ESCi’s recommendations. The Steering Committee is made up of two representatives from each the four agencies. In addition to the district representatives, a ninth slot is filled by a Garfield County Commissioner.
On February 4, 2012, the committee, as well as appointed staff members, held a workshop facilitated by Mr. Stanley Orr to establish the Mission, Values, Purpose, Vision, and Strategic Goals which will act as the driving forces behind the establishment of a Regional Fire Authority. After a long day of discussion the workshop group agreed that the Mission of the RFA is: “We are dedicated to protect life, home, and property with professional service through leadership, education, and partnerships, with safety as our highest priority.”
In the upcoming months, the Steering Committee is charged with establishing an intergovernmental agreement to establish a Fire Authority. Once the IGA is completed, it will be reviewed by each individual elected body for amendment, approval, or rejection. Along this process the Steering Committee will keep the public informed through press releases, social media, and community meetings. The Steering Committee will also periodically be asking for help on various topics of the RFA. In the upcoming days, a poll will be posted in the papers as well as on each department’s website asking for your help in naming the RFA.
The Burning Mountains Fire Protection District, the Glenwood Springs Rural Fire Protection District, the City of Glenwood Springs, and the Rifle Fire Protection District have begun explorations of opportunities to improve efficiencies through shared and cooperative services.
As a result of the decision that WestCare Ambulance no longer provide ambulance services, the Burning Mountains Fire Protection District agreed to begin providing 911 ambulance services to the Silt / New Castle areas beginning June 1, 2010. The planning and preparation associated with the providing of 911 ambulance services resulted in conversations between Glenwood Springs, Burning Mountains, and Rifle Fire Departments as how to best provide services to the respective areas with available resources and to attempt to minimize duplicative efforts by working closer together in preparedness, planning, and the providing of essential services.
In February of 2011, the elected officials of the respective jurisdiction adopted eight goals to remain focused on the intent of the efforts of the organizations. While not in any specific order, those adopted goals are as follows:
To improve services to our customers
To provide consistent services, and consistent service levels throughout the response area.
To identify programs and areas for cost savings, cost sharing, and cost avoidance to our taxpayers.
To provide for job security, safety and well being of our volunteer, part time, and career staff.
To ensure the long term sustainability of joint / shared services programs developed and implemented.
To establish a shared and consistent “outcome based” decision making at all levels of the organization (s).
To expand on the utilization of shared/cooperative services for service enhancements, emergency response system “depth”, shared preparedness costs, proactive resource management and deployment, and cost efficiencies.
To remain open, honest and transparent to our constituents, community peers/partners, customers and staff.
Overall, the intent of the efforts are to reduce duplicative efforts provided by the three Fire Departments in the areas of training, administration, prevention, and response. In addition, a “new” automatic aid agreement is designed to send the closest available responders to an emergency based upon location, not on what political subdivision in which the incident occurs. These efforts will assist in reducing response times as well as in some cases the reduction of insurance costs to customers.
A third party consulting firm, Emergency Services Consulting international, has been hired to evaluate shared and cooperative service opportunities between the agencies. In the process of their research, ESCi will facilitate three community public input meetings to gather information from members of the general public and local community citizenry. Public comments, feedback, and question / answer sessions will be facilitated at these meetings. The community meetings are tentatively scheduled for the week of August 8th. Specific dates, times, and locations will be announced in the near future.
For more information contact Connie Guerette 625-1243, Myia Lackey 876-5738, or Erin Williams 384-6436.
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