New York is finally making some effort towards municipal collaboration. Brooklyn Park recently approved a 2012 budget, $50,000 of which to go to hiring a consultant for the fire department. Brooklyn is hoping to learn how its fire department can work alongside those of other area cities, and share resources.
“Our goal with the study was to take an intelligent look at this and see if it makes sense financially, public-safety-wise, coverage–wise, all those perimeters” explained Brooklyn Park Mayor Jeff Lunde.
The new move comes after Lunde’s announcement regarding change: “We have to change things, rather than just say things have always been done this way.”
Lunde said that although Brooklyn Park is taking responsibility for the project, he hopes neighboring cities will join as well. Today, the city’s fire department operates in a paid on-call/staffed setup. The budget of around $2.75 million covers a city of 76,000 people.
Regional fire districts already exist in other areas such as Lino Lakes, Centerville and Circle Pines, and Mounds View. An outside consultant such as the one being hired will be able to see opportunities as simple as sharing ladder trucks and other specialized equipment, which can significantly reduce costs and boost efficiency in the region.
“The fact that we might do a study that would include other communities doesn’t necessarily mean we would ultimately merge or share services” said Fire Chief Kenneth Prillaman. “We want to find opportunities… The best way is to have a consultant come in and look at fire departments around us to look for redundancies or efficiencies to be had by considering a different service delivery model.”