Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Fire aid agreement gets final nod

Ketchum City Council approves agreement with Wood River Fire and rescue


By REBECCA MEANY
Express Staff Writer

The last entity in a tri-party agreement has signed off on an arrangement that aims to enhance firefighter safety and increase collaboration between Wood River and Ketchum.

The Ketchum City Council on Monday approved a cooperative agreement with Wood River Fire & Rescue, Ketchum Rural Fire Department and the city fire department.

"It's an addition to the existing automatic aid agreement we have with Wood River Fire and an enhancement to the countywide mutual aid agreement," Ketchum Fire Chief Mike Elle said Tuesday. "It's the first step in further collaboration [moving] toward consolidation."

Ketchum, Ketchum Rural and Wood River share a border at the Greenhorn Bridge, with Ketchum having jurisdiction to the north, and Wood River, to the south.

Ketchum Rural and Wood River already have an automatic-aid agreement for the mid-valley area, from Timber Way to Ohio Gulch Road, including the Greenhorn area and part of East Fork. Under that agreement, both agencies respond to medical, fire and motor vehicle calls.

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The revised agreement means that, rather than calling for assistance, there will be automatic response by Ketchum and Ketchum Rural for structure fires within Wood River's jurisdiction and Wood River would provide automatic response for structure fires within those agencies' jurisdictions.

Ketchum and Ketchum Rural personnel are city employees, but Ketchum Rural is governed by a board of commissioners.

"The expected outcomes of the agreement are higher quality and safer emergency services for each of the respective jurisdictions," according to a staff report.

Elle said the Ketchum and Wood River agencies have similar training and standards, so, with the agreement, each department can have greater certainty with incident response.

"What we're finding is we need more experienced help earlier on," he said. "We're trying to provide the safest environment we can."

The agreement will be enacted in about 30 days.

Rebecca Meany: rmeany@mtexpress.com




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