Seven out of Lincoln County’s nine fire departments decided Monday night to move ahead with a professional analysis of each department’s strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for enhanced cooperation between them. North Lincoln, Depoe Bay, Newport Rural, City of Newport, Central Coast, Yachats and Siletz said “it’s a go” for participating in the study by ESCI of Wilsonville, which has performed performance assessments on over eight hundred fire departments over many years.
Each participating agency will be analyzed for personnel, management practices, equipment and equipment purchasing, training, unique fire fighting circumstances as they vary from community to community and areas of mutually beneficial cooperation and collaboration. The five month study will give each department a snap-shot of where they are compared to where they might be in all of those areas of professional fire fighting.
Study organizer Ray Woodruff of Waldport says although there has been a lot of rumors that the study is a prelude to fire department consolidations, it’s not that. He said it’s more of an inventory of what fire fighting resources exist, how they can be better managed and grown smartly. Depoe Bay Fire Chief Josh Williams said each department will get a full report that is strictly applicable to its own department. It will also allow each department to explore opportunities for reducing costs for firefighter training, equipment and supplies purchasing and opportunities for working closer together to meet challenges in coverage and planning.
Although the Seal Rock Fire Protection District Board and the Toledo City Council declined to have their fire departments participate in the study, Seal Rock Chief Tracy Shaw and Toledo Chief Will Ewing attended Monday night’s meeting as observers.