In the United States today, many fire and emergency services organizations are recognizing that by consolidating with neighboring organizations, they can create single agencies that reap all the operational and economic benefits that comes from merging organizations. Increases in operational service levels and economic efficiencies as a result of consolidating the current fire districts would have a profound impact on the people of Burrillville. The following is a list of some of the advantages that Burrillville and its residents could achieve if the current village fire districts were consolidated into one town wide fire district.
Single Tax Rate:
There are currently four different tax rates in town. Neighbors living on opposite sides of a district border are paying a different tax rate for their fire and EMS service. This places a disproportionate tax burden on residents of some of the districts. A town wide fire district would create a single and fair property tax rate for all residents spread out over an expanded tax base. Sharing costs over a larger base enables successfully consolidated districts to afford adequate personnel, apparatus, and equipment more easily than individual districts.
Eliminate Current District Boundaries:
Consolidation would remove the district boundary barriers of today by allowing emergency response to be based on proximity to the fire stations and not boundary lines. A new town wide district would be covered with the most efficient coverage possible by redrawing the first due response boundaries to have the closest apparatus respond to an emergency incident. By creating more rational response areas this would equalize the current coverage differences, improve capabilities, and reduce response times, which can reduce fire losses and severity of medical injuries.
Improved Insurance Ratings:
The Insurance Service Office (ISO) rates all fire and emergency service providers based on their capacity to provide emergency service. These ratings determine the amount of home insurance premiums that residents and taxpayers will have to pay to insure their homes and property. The consolidation of multiple fire service agencies usually results in an improved ISO rating for the new agency. Improved ISO ratings are possible because of higher levels of emergency response and redeployment of apparatus and equipment to more adequately meet the need of the community. An increase in fire service ISO ratings reduces insurance rates of resident and commercial properties within the newly consolidated agency.
Reduction in Duplication/Redundancy:
Duplication of equipment can be eliminated. Unnecessary duplication of services and resources are viewed as irresponsible and wasteful. Areas of duplication, including apparatus and equipment, could be eliminated to reduce redundancy and the cost of maintaining them. This elimination has an added benefit of reducing the strain on internal resources such as fleet management. With fewer vehicles, the cost to operate, maintain and service, and insure would decrease. Long-term costs can also be reduced. Items that are no longer needed will not have to be purchased/budgeted for in the future, therefore avoiding those financial impacts. This is known as cost avoidance.
Standardized Training and Operating Procedures:
A single fire service agency will benefit from having one standardized training program. The four current districts manage their own training programs with few unified policies and procedures. These conflicting procedures can place unnecessary safety risks to both fire district personnel and the public. A uniform training program would standardizes procedures and synchronize district personnel knowledge and skills, which would allow emergency operations to be conducted with greater efficiency, consistency, and safety.
A single consolidated agency would also allow for uniform and standardized operating procedures and regulations with common policies and one single command structure throughout town. All fire service personnel would benefit greatly from these efficiencies in operations and safety at emergency scenes.
Unified Recruitment and Retention Program:
The four current districts each have their own process for recruiting and retaining firefighters. They are in direct competition with each other to attract and maintain an adequate staff of firefighters. Having one town wide district would eliminate that competition and the resources and ideas of each district can be combined to attract and preserve enough quality personnel.
Centralized Fire Prevention/Inspection Activities:
A consolidated district would ensure that fire prevention programs, including building inspections and fire code enforcement as well as fire safety education are consistent throughout the town which should improve efficiency and eliminate differencing interpretations of the fire code.
Joint purchasing through increased bargaining power can save money by reducing the costs of equipment and supplies. Streamlined, centralized, and bulk purchasing can save the new consolidated district.
Uniform Tax Collections:
Tax collection departments would be consolidated for a uniform approach to collections. Duplicate services and supplies such as; collection software, legal services, payroll administration, and policy development would be centralized.
Joint records management systems put in place would centralize record keeping. This centralized data could dictate any future changes needed by the consolidated district to provide adequate emergency services for the community well into the future.
ONE TOWN – ONE DISTRICT