Newport City Council and Depoe Bay Fire District Directors agree to explore higher level cooperation between their respective fire departments
The Newport City Council and the Depoe Bay Fire and Rescue District Board have agreed that the days of individual stand alone fire departments “doing their own thing” with volunteer recruitment, training, equipment purchasing and medical services, are fast becoming a thing of the past. Both the council and the board have given instructions to their respective fire chiefs to begin implementing cooperative strategies that will standardize and better coordinate fire department operations within and between their departments.
Since both need a steady supply of volunteers, the chiefs will now seek to consolidate their recruitment efforts and to put those recruits, as well as veteran volunteers, through a more standardized training program. In so doing, when both departments show up in mutual aid on a fire, the command structure on down will be seamless and performance and technical expectations of personnel will make firefighting and rescue operations more efficient.
Much the same for equipment purchases. Since no single volunteer fire department can afford, individually, to buy every piece of equipment they’ll ever need, cooperating and coordinating with an adjoining fire department on purchasing can help ensure that more of such equipment can be readily available to both.
These and other “economies of scale” advantages to mutual cooperation and coordination will now be studied and recommendations made to their respective boards for their formal approval.
“The question of a more formal consolidation of ALL operations is way down the road and, frankly, at this time it’s really unknown. It could be a number of years away, if then,” according to Depoe Bay Fire District Board member Barbara Leff. Leff added, however, that “There are many intelligent ways to cooperate between the departments to better insure that both are giving the highest level of fire fighting and rescue services, along with fire prevention, at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayers. We need to explore them and decide what’s best for the communities we serve.”
Leff said her fellow Depoe Bay District directors will soon be holding a workshop session with Fire Chief Josh Williams to discuss cooperative options prior to their September board meeting. Newport Fire Chief Phil Paige will also be in close consultation with his city council so that all concerned are on the same page.
The recommendations for cooperation and coordination were revealed in a recent study by a nationally ranked fire services consulting firm that assessed fire department strengths and weaknesses and development strategies to strengthen fire and rescue operations county wide. All fire departments in the county participated in the analysis except for Toledo and Seal Rock, but both their chiefs are monitoring the progress that is made by their fellow departments.