A memorandum of understanding with the Clayton, Englewood and Union fire departments was recently implemented to improve service delivery and provide significant cost savings for the three cities.
By John Bush – Senior Reporter, Dayton Business Journal
Sep 23, 2020, 6:25am EDT
A new collaborative effort among three fire departments is solving staffing issues and potentially saving millions of dollars for the local cities involved. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Clayton, Englewood and Union fire/EMS departments was recently implemented in an effort to significantly improve service delivery for the three cities. Though the fire/EMS departments will be “highly coordinated,” officials say they will remain independent.
The cooperative agreement, which officially began on June 1, will reduce capital expenditures and eliminate equipment redundancy, potentially saving $5.2 million over the next 15 years. “The fire collaborative will mean better service for our residents and the residents of our neighboring communities,” Clayton City Manager Amanda Zimmerlin said. “The MOU between the three cities surpasses traditional mutual aid and addresses staffing shortages, coordinated training opportunities, and significantly reduces capital expenditures for all three cities with a plan to eliminate equipment redundancy. This will potentially save $5.2 million over the long run.”
Clayton Fire Chief Brian Garver said that, in addition to the millions of dollars in savings over the next 15 years, the collaborative addresses staffing shortages among the three departments. The Clayton Fire Department currently employs 13 people. “We were all struggling with keeping multiple stations open with adequate staffing,” Garver said. “We continually had to divide staffing among the different stations, but we never really had the ideal staffing we wanted at each.” With the new collaborative, Garver said they have enough employees to adequately respond to emergencies. He noted the Clayton Fire Department had about 1,000 hours of shifts that went uncovered in a given month, and that number is now down to 12 hours.
“From our standpoint, staffing is now ideal all the time,” he said.
The MOU also aims to improve response times, adjust service boundaries to take advantage of the closest station geographically, create more efficient use of supervisory personnel and improve radio communications. Garver noted jurisdictional boundaries previously hindered the departments from responding in the quickest time possible. “Now we can get to an emergency quicker because the closest fire house isn’t always necessarily the jurisdiction you live in,” he said, noting the Clayton-Union-Englewood areas are ‘cut up’ when it comes to boundary lines. “We’re now taking the philosophy that the closest, most appropriate fire apparatus is responding, regardless of jurisdictional boundaries.”
Garver said training also has improved. He noted the Clayton Fire Department provided 100 classes in June and July of last year, and in 2020 that number jumped to 233. Training hours improved as a result, increasing over 800 hours in that two-month period.
Clayton Director of Development Jack Kuntz said the collaborative “makes a lot of sense,” noting that pulling resources together will help the cities better serve their respective communities. He added residents and the business community will benefit due to quicker response times during an emergency. “In times when they need this service the most, they’re going to be able to get the quickest and best emergency service provided to them,” he said.
Kuntz also noted the significant cost savings that will result from the MOU, which Garver said is $1.3 million for Clayton alone. The extra funding can be put toward capital improvements and city services. “In terms of capital improvements, capital purchases, etc., millions of dollars will be saved long term by having this agreement,” he said. “Essentially it comes down to providing better, quality services to residents and businesses while saving tax-payer dollars, so I’d say it’s a win all the way around.”