County wide fire dept examples?

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SCPD

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I didn't know where to post this but, the county I live in is looking at combining all their separate fire departments into one "County Fire Rescue" to save money. Has anyone ever heard of this being done? And why does it save money to combine them all into one county fire rescue dept? Did it turn out OK in the end? Thanks. :)
 

CommJunkie

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Not sure of the circumstances, but I know Brevard County, FL is a County Fire Department, with a few volunteer stations mixed in.
 

com501

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I didn't know where to post this but, the county I live in is looking at combining all their separate fire departments into one "County Fire Rescue" to save money. Has anyone ever heard of this being done? And why does it save money to combine them all into one county fire rescue dept? Did it turn out OK in the end? Thanks. :)
ONE chief instead of a dozen, ONE deputy chief, ONE set of office staff, and perhaps a few less stations.

Take every station in your county and draw a 5 minute circle around each one. If there is more than one station, anyplace there are overlaps, its a good bet they will close those stations, too. Also, central maintenance, central fueling, a lot of advantages to consolidation, including less personnel needed, since any firefighter in the county can cover any station, if there is an absence.

From a union labor standpoint, no, they hate it. From a municipal budget standpoint and the savings to the taxpayer, its a no brainer.
 

W2NJS

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It's difficult to imagine how in these times a county could have separate and independent fire stations in view of all the regulatory requirements for the fire service, and that's just to start with. One would hope that right now all of your companies at least operate on the same fire radiochannels. Combined, centralized, county-controlled departments are probably more the norm than the exception these days.
 

ibagli

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It's difficult to imagine how in these times a county could have separate and independent fire stations in view of all the regulatory requirements for the fire service, and that's just to start with. One would hope that right now all of your companies at least operate on the same fire radiochannels. Combined, centralized, county-controlled departments are probably more the norm than the exception these days.
It depends on what state you're in, though. Not every state has strong county government. I don't think counties in Ohio even have the authority to organize county fire departments (even if they can, none do). A countywide department would be possible, but as far as I know only if all of the townships and municipalities independently agreed to form a joint fire district. Good luck getting that.
 
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zerg901

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https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AoX8tpb0l73sdDhNRmVDaS1KNmlpd2pjNU9fN1p0T2c&hl=en_US#gid=0

This spreadsheet attempts to answer the question - "Which countys really have just 1 fire department"?

Jacksonville / Duval County in Florida - Tallahassee / Leon County in Florida - Nashville / Davidson County in Tennessee - these seem the be the biggest agencys that come closest to be a real countywide FD

Some of the rural countys that have just 1 town do have a "countywide FD" - not because any FDs got merged - but because there aint no other FDs in the county

I put 3 stars (***) in the "state" column for any FD that looks like it might be a real countywide FD

I ralize this might be a little bit of overkill for your question - but if you just scan thru the list maybe something interesting will catch your eye that you can research further

------------------------------------

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AoX8tpb0l73sdEZaVTY3aUlza0RuSHpPV1B0ZzBDM3c&hl=en_US#gid=0 - this spreadsheet shows major "fire" dispatch centers - which offers another way to look at "countywide" fire operations

In general I would say that 75% of the FDs in the USA are part of a virtual county FD - they share radio channels, dispatch, training, etc

Looking at the police side - it is common to have county police agencys (Sheriffs Department) - it is pretty common to have county 911 dispatch centers - county courts - county land records - some places even have county librarys - I dont know if anyone has any "countywide school systems" (maybe NC + SC?)
 
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com501

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Pretty much every county in Nevada has a school system that is countywide, with only one Superintendent per county.
 

N8IAA

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Well, Cobb, Gwinnett, Forsyth, Hall, and DeKalb counties in the Metro ATL area have county FD's. Works for them. County school systems in all counties I mentioned.
Larry
 
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wmullins8195

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I work for a county (two actually) that have merged all of the volunteer agencies into one "system", along with the career personnel. Trust me, this is usually a good thing.
 

902

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I didn't know where to post this but, the county I live in is looking at combining all their separate fire departments into one "County Fire Rescue" to save money. Has anyone ever heard of this being done? And why does it save money to combine them all into one county fire rescue dept? Did it turn out OK in the end? Thanks. :)
This is a cost-cutting strategy known as "consolidation." Some do it at the county level, others do it as special districts, but the bottom line is that it's not the politics that make it work, it's the firefighters who make things work.

There is also a continuum. This goes from cooperative procurement and elimination of hard boundaries for response on one side all the way over to a full and single department on the other. I've seen this with public works, law enforcement, and dispatch center services, as well. The lack of adequate funding makes people consider things they would have dismissed to retain local control only a couple of years ago.



Pros:
  • Standardization
  • Uniform command structure
  • Uniform response
  • Planned procurement
  • Planned resource deployment
  • Quality of service maintained above minimum acceptable levels
Cons:
  • Limited opportunities for bidders
  • Limited opportunities for employment/volunteering (if volunteering is even possible)
  • Responders may lack the accrued local knowledge a single smaller department may have about their community
  • Limited promotion opportunities
  • Closest stations may close and response may be from further away
  • Perceived loss in span of control
  • Political minefield for both proponents and opponents
Issues for debate (no right or wrong answer, or situationally right or wrong based on your perspective):
  • Taxpayers in higher density areas can claim they disproportionately receive less service while subsidizing more rural areas in the served area that lack an adequate tax base.
  • The overtaking agency or jurisdiction can be looked at as the Borg or imperialistic.
  • The taken-over agency may be inappropriately viewed as subordinate to the larger agency or inadequate
So, the short answer is that it could be really good or it could be the community's worst nightmare. It depends on a whole lot of variables.
 

krokus

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Wirelessly posted (BlackBerry8530/5.0.0.973 Profile/MIDP-2.1 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/105)

Horry County, SC has county-wide setup. (Or did, when I visited.)
 

hfxChris

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Halifax county here in Nova Scotia merged all of the independent FDs (as well as all municipal services, including policing) into one government system and one fire department back in 1996. I know there was a lot of resistance back then from the departments losing their autonomy, and there may very well still be some "bad blood" about it to this day, but 15 years has given them a lot of time to work out any issues. I know the whole point behind not just merging the FDs, but all of the local city/town governments into one regional municipal government was reduction of costs and as far as I know that goal was met.

As for the fire service specifically, a couple of smaller sub stations were closed, some stations replaced (which probably wouldn't have happened before), a lot of new equipment for the more rural stations that again they may not have been able to afford before. In total there are 59 stations serving 380,000 people, with a mixture of stations staffed 24/7 in the cities, a mix of career and volunteers in some areas, and 100% volunteer stations in other areas.

Some other cost savings that I would imagine, although I have no stats to back this up, one unified dispatching system (in the case here both fire and police county wide), and better use of apparatus - there's probably no need for every single station to have an aerial unit or a tactical/heavy rescue unit.
 

W2PMX

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You can add New York City to that list. The city consists of 5 counties, and the fire department (you've heard of it - FDNY) covers all 5 counties. Granted, each county operates sort of semi-independently on some levels (like radio), but it's all 1 department, under one local government. (Frank can go into it deeper - he spent his career with FDNY.)

Does it work? Very well, and has for over a century.
 

radioman2001

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Don't know of this would count, but about 12 FD's in lower Westchester County New York created a consortium to share services, (bidding, fuel etc) while keeping their autonomy. Westchester has a common dispatch system that took over 35 years to create because of the departments fearing loss of local control. In the same vein Westchester County is the only county in the area that I know of that has an individual 911 PSAP for each agency. The radio system has enhanced communications for all the FD's and special agencies. I suspect it will eventually be a reason for combining all FD's and PD's into one agency. PD's are already starting to merge.
 

902

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You can add New York City to that list. The city consists of 5 counties, and the fire department (you've heard of it - FDNY) covers all 5 counties. Granted, each county operates sort of semi-independently on some levels (like radio), but it's all 1 department, under one local government. (Frank can go into it deeper - he spent his career with FDNY.)

Does it work? Very well, and has for over a century.
Oh! :eek: You left out the famous Brooklyn Fire Department which was its own FD when Brooklyn was its own city, independent of NYC.
 

902

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I was going to add some history but it got too long, so I just deleted it all.
History's cool! :cool: It also helps remind some of the politicians that they didn't invent some of these ideas. If they're wise, they'll read up and see the good and bad things that happened way back when, and take them into account when they try to repeat history and expect a different result.

Brooklyn Fire Department
 

buddrousa

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It is a good thing to have a county wide fire system but remember this if you do a county wide system for all county departments and you have a disaster just think 5 or 6 fire departments trying to use the same system all at the same time that will load a well designed trunking system much less one repeater
 

b7spectra

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Well, Cobb, Gwinnett, Forsyth, Hall, and DeKalb counties in the Metro ATL area have county FD's. Works for them. County school systems in all counties I mentioned.
Larry
Shame on you, Larry! Cobb has Cobb, Marietta, Smyrna & Austell Fire. DeKalb has DeKalb and Decatur Fire!
 
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