Spokane County Fire District #10 Hoping To Work More Closely Tog - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Spokane County Fire District #10 Hoping To Work More Closely Together; Merger Possible

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Spokane County Fire District #10 Press Release: 

Three West Plains fire agencies are hoping to work much more closely together, possibly to the point of a merger of the three. Airway Heights Fire Department, Medical Lake Fire Department, and Spokane County Fire District 10 are exploring opportunities to increase how much they cooperatively work together.

Currently, all three utilize automatic-aid agreements to jointly use firefighters and apparatus on larger incidents. All three agencies have been training their new volunteer firefighters together for the last two years. Just this month (October 2013), the three agencies' training programs were consolidated. All three jurisdictions will now train using a common quarterly schedule on the same topics and curriculum. This will improve how well the three agencies work together on incidents, and greatly improves the efficiency of training delivery. In the past, each agency would need to develop a training program separately. Today, each can focus on a portion of the curriculum needing development, allowing the others to take care of other, commonly needed topics. As well, instructors can now be shared.

There is a desire to build upon this and look for additional efficiencies or opportunities to improve service to the citizens by doing more cooperative efforts. A Request for Qualifications will be released this month to hire a consultant to conduct a Cooperative Services Assessment. This project will examine all three agencies and make recommendations for action. All models will be considered, including a full merger of the organizations.

The reason to bring in a consultant comes down to wanting to make the best decisions for the citizens. By bringing in an outsider, all possible solutions can be examined without bias. As well, there is no one within the three agencies that have any experience in these issues. "Every time we look into an opportunity to work closer together, we create more questions," noted Mitch Metzger, Fire Chief of Airway Heights Fire Department. "In a way, we don't know what questions we should be asking."

There will be no costs incurred until a consultant is hired and a contract agreed upon. The elected bodies of each agency (the City Councils of Medical Lake and Airway Heights, and the Board of Fire Commissioners for District 10) will make the final decision to move forward with a consultant, and also to move forward on any recommendations.

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