Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hailey outlines collaboration efforts for fire departments

Mayor does not rule out consolidation


By TONY EVANS
Express Staff Writer

The Hailey City Council authorized the purchase of a new truck for the Hailey Fire Department on Monday and authorized Hailey Fire Chief Mike Chapman to move forward with several options to expand efforts to work together with other fire departments in the south valley.

Chapman said the "pumper" truck is one of five fire trucks the city needs to replace during the next five years. He said it could take up to a year to order and purchase the truck, and it would cost about $320,000.

Chapman was authorized to:

( Increase the standardization of operating procedures between the Hailey Fire Department, Bellevue Fire Department and Wood River Fire & Rescue.

( Better coordinate basic training courses for new members of the Hailey Fire Department and establish recognition standards for qualified instructors.

( Increase joint personnel trainings with other departments from semi-annually to quarterly.

( Consider "mixed-crew" operations for daytime staffing of Wood River Fire & Rescue Station No. 3 south of Bellevue.

( Provide fire marshal services for Wood River Fire & Rescue and the Bellevue Fire Department.

( Call for resumption of Wood River Fire & Rescue's participation in the south county auto-aid agreement.

The Hailey Fire Department currently would only be supported with a ladder truck from Wood River Fire & Rescue if Hailey called for one under the mutual-aid agreement between the two agencies. Under an auto-aid agreement, the ladder truck would be supplied automatically to the city after an emergency call went out, Chapman said.

"We are ready to sign one whenever Wood River is ready," he said Monday.

All south-county fire departments are moving forward with various recommendations to increase efficiencies among departments, outlined in a recent study funded by Wood River Fire & Rescue and the city of Hailey.

"We are going to move forward with baby steps," said Mayor Rick Davis in an interview, equating the steps to "dating before marriage," with marriage perhaps falling into some form of consolidated function in the future.

"Nothing is ruled out at this time," he said.

Chapman said in an interview that he favored "Strategy E" in the consultant's study, which calls for establishing a new fire district from all of the personnel and apparatuses in the south-valley fire departments.

"Right now, none of the three departments in the south valley is sustainable in the long term," he said.

In other Hailey news:

( The council allowed a city ordinance permitting and regulating egg-laying chickens in the city to remain in effect, rather than expiring after one year as originally written.

( The council authorized staff to move forward with a partially self-insured employee insurance plan, initiated by Ketchum city staff, to avert expected insurance premium increases over the next three years.

Tony Evans: tevans@mtexpress.com




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