One of the principal challenges emergency services organizations face is dealing with decreasing resources while, at the same time, trying to satisfy demands for new and/or expanded services. More and more, emergency agencies seek alternative strategies to address these and other issues. One option is developing or expanding cooperative relationships with other similar organizations.  There are many options available to organizations that desire to pursue a more formal relationship with neighboring jurisdictions. These choices may include:

Expansion of existing automatic or mutual aid agreements

Intergovernmental agreements

Functional consolidation

Operational consolidation

Contract(s) for emergency protection

Merger of independent corporations

The process may include:

Educational presentation

Evaluation of existing organizations and operations

Conducting a feasibility study

Development of implementation strategies if a cooperative effort is determined to be a viable option

Emergency Services Consulting International (ESCI) has been actively involved for more than ten years in working with emergency service providers that are considering a formal cooperative relationship. ESCI is used exclusively by the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) to provide educational workshops throughout the country on the subject of merger and consolidation. Currently, six of our staff members have personally experienced at least one successful merger or consolidation.

The process used by ESCI is objective and fair to all parties. Areas that are addressed may include:

Organizational effectiveness

Efficiency and elimination of duplication

Fiscal analysis and cost avoidance

Growth considerations

Customer need

Strategies and keys to success

ISO grading (fire service)

Political considerations and legal processes

Infrastructure needs and deficiencies

Opportunities for shared facilities and equipment

Government structure options

Evaluation of effectiveness and efficiencies

Local oversight, governing, and accountability

Available options

Each situation is unique, requiring careful consideration. Consultation with legal counsel and other specialized professionals is a necessary component of protecting the interests of all communities. Seminars are available (and encouraged) to provide an overview of the differences between the various cooperative strategies, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each.

The following list is a sampling of cooperative effort strategies that fire departments can employ:

Develop Uniform Standard Operating Guidelines

Develop Regional Specialty Teams

Develop a Joint Support and Logistics Services Division

Establish a Regional Investigation Team

Develop a Regional Fire Safety Education Coalition

Develop a Regional Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention Network

Create a Unified Occupational Medicine Program

Create a Unified Wellness and Fitness Program

Develop and Adopt Regional Training Standards

Develop and Adopt a Regional Training Manual

Develop a Regional Training Plan

Develop Shared Fire and EMS Training Facilities

Develop Mutual Training Strategies

Adopt and Implement a Regional Computerized Training Records Management System

Develop Uniform Fees for Service

Adopt a Single Regional Fire Code

Purchase Uniform Emergency Apparatus

Develop a Model Labor Agreement for Participating Departments

Develop Uniform EMS Re-certification Training and EMS Supervision

Acquire AVL and MDC or MDT Capabilities

Develop Uniform Pre-Incident Plans

Provide for Joint Staffing of Stations and Apparatus

Provide Shared IC and Operations Supervision

Develop a Unified Office of Emergency Management

Develop Uniform Incident Reporting Guidelines

Provide System-Wide Guidelines for Fire Response

Implement the Use of Peak Activity Units (PAUs)

Create a Cooperative Strategic Plan Including Neighboring Emergency Service Providers

Develop System-Wide Deployment Plan for Paramedics

Provide System-Wide Guidelines for EMS Response

Provide Joint EMS Supply Purchasing and Logistics Services

Purchase and Implement an Electronic Staffing Program

Develop Uniform Deployment Standards

Contact ESCI today for additional information about opportunities for cooperative effort and the potential for related cost efficiencies.