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 forty 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.