The Westshore Council of Governments is fanning the flames regarding the creation of a Westshore Regional Fire District.
Mayor Pam Bobst told city council at its recent legislative session, that in the coming weeks, the group would be putting together a “vision statement”, detailing the findings and suggestions of a study recently conducted to explore the potential of consolidation of certain services as a way to be more cost effective. Bobst and Fire Chief Chris Flynn attended a daylong meeting of the council last week at the Westlake Recreation Center where the subject was further discussed.
“We’re first going to go after the low hanging fruit,” Bobst said, referring to the fact that the issues which would be most attractive for consolidation could include training, standard operations, and inspection. “We need to assess whether consolidation makes sense or no sense when it comes to expanding and enhancing the service to residents,” she added.
Flynn further explained that four of the cities in the council, Fairview Park, Westlake, Rocky River, Bay Village, plus North Ridgeville currently share in a central dispatch system located in the St.John Medical Center in Westlake. Lakewood and North Olmsted make up the rest of the council.
Giving further background, Flynn said that an organization called Efficient Government Now ran a competition a few years ago, designed for communities which were considering collaboration of fire services. The Westhore Council of Governments was granted $100,000 to study the amalgamation of fire fighting and emergency medical services in the seven communities. “What made this even more appealing is the fact that we’re going across county boarders,” said Flynn, referring to the fact that North Ridgeville, which joined the central dispatch last year, is in Lorain County.
Emergency Services Consultants International was hired to evaluate each city’s fire department and speak with city officials. After reviewing the consultants’ prepared draft, mayors and fire chiefs from the council cities sent back comments on which a report was formulated.
“The mayor and I are stressing that absolute consolidation of the fire district is not where we’re going to end up,” Flynn stated. He added that ideas such as working from the same fire fighting protocol is a definite possibility, due in part to the fact that the cities already use the same emergency medical procedures. Speaking to Bobst’s reference to “low hanging fruit”, Flynn said that those items which could be utilized at no cost would be explored first.
“It only makes sense. We already help each other out,” Flynn continued, adding that the fire departments of the seven cities routinely will lend equipment and vehicles such as ambulances if there is one out of commission.
Bobst also announced that Flynn had secured an $81,000 grant from the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program for the purchase of three Life Pac 15 units for each rescue squad vehicle. “This is a critical piece of equipment. One of the finest features is the ability to relay information on the scene and while in transport,” Bobst explained. Flynn said the present units were ten years old, and starting in October, could no longer be serviced.