There was sufficient need to band together to provide efficiencies in purchasing, training, and centralized policies.
The roadmap to the Alliance would wind past five major milestones. The driving reason behind the participants’ willingness to work together from 1991 to 1995 was for the betterment of the fire service. To the participants, the fire service is not a job, but rather a calling.
The first meeting with over 80 participants, representing five counties was at Butler Twp. Fire Station #3 in June 1991. The purpose of the meeting, lead by Tom Grile was to discuss service-related problems and to develop more cost-effective solutions. They identified several costly duplications such as dispatching and training programs. Grile had fire service and dispatching cooperation plans from several sources. The members of the first meeting thought it was worth their time and effort to schedule another meeting, elect a chair, and develop a work plan.
The second meeting put in place the “Fire Service Study Group” (Fire Group). The newly elected chair appointed several committee chairs for the following committees: Administration/Management, Budget, Fire Suppression, EMS, Fire Prevention, Training, and Supply/Support. Each Chair was asked to encourage participation by inviting others to be involved in the process.
Miami Valley Fire/EMS Alliance
History Milestones: 1991 to 1995 12
The third meeting finalized the work plan. Each committee had a deadline of Dec. 1991. Results varied, and not surprisingly, they discovered committees needed input from each of the other committees to complete their work plan. An example of cross-collaboration was the Fire Suppression Committee needed EMS activities when plotting station locations and likewise the EMS Committee needed involvement from the Fire Suppression Committee.
The Fire Group recommendations called for more formal interaction between departments, with an emphasis on efficiencies and reducing costs through a consolidation of effort. In spite of the distaste for a single response organization, it was obvious there were huge benefits to be gained by working together in joint-purchasing, dispatching, training, and other functions.
In Jan. 1992, several presentations were made to elected officials. As a result the jurisdictions’ policy makers decided the 75 members of the original study group should be reduced to a new group of 17 members from mayors and managers, administrators and trustees, fire chiefs from small, medium, and large departments, union officials, and volunteer representatives. The new group was 33 departments in three counties.
The Miami Valley Fire/EMS Regional Cooperative Study Committee was formed in March 1992. Co-Chairs were City Manager Jim Pierce, Huber Heights and Administrator Mike Morton, Washington Twp. Their mission was “To evaluate and recommend the feasibility of Fire and EMS service delivery systems for the region which maximizes resource utilization, minimizes cost to the community, and ensures a high level of service.”
The Chair invited each subcommittee from the Fire Group to make presentations on their activities and to answer questions. In some cases, they asked for more information and the subcommittees presented more information. After six months, the committee concluded that the instincts of the Fire Group were on the mark the area could reap the benefits of more effective fire service delivery system through cooperative efforts. While they agreed a single entity was not the solution, in its published findings they said, “While the maximum cost savings benefit would be derived from a merger of all 33 fire departments into a single department, the stark reality is such a merger would not occur in the foreseeable future.” Instead, the report emphasized a concerted cooperative effort would save money and improve efficiency without the need to relinquish any department’s identity or authority. The consensus was to use the seven functions within a dept. as a good approach. The report underscored it was necessary to have motivated chairs for success.
A grant from Mont. Co. Economic Development/Government Enterprise Fund paid for two speakers to make a presentation at Wright State to the local governments and fire chiefs. Two fire chiefs from Washington and Florida were chosen because they had led the process when they combined several departments into one. At this point a fire district was discussed, but no consensus was reached.
Long Associates, Inc. was tasked to resolve the remaining issues. Mr. Long was known for his work in solving problems for fire departments. Not only did the Fire Group want to know if their findings were accurate, the committee added additional requests to the consultant’s responsibilities to solve other questions and finalize an implementation process.
On March 1, 1994, eight months later, Long Associates, Inc. confirmed the original findings. The Long report also provided additional suggestions for increased efficiencies and reductions in costs. The report de-fined the organizational structure, determined a budget, and identified an implementation strategy. The Miami Valley Fire/EMS Alliance office was opened at Sinclair Community College Building 13 for business March 6, 1995.
The formation of the Alliance and all the milestones for the years since the beginning days, have been challenging and rewarding. The members on boards, workgroups and committees have been determined to work together for the greater good. Bumps in the road may come, but there is a strong commitment to stay focused and continue the journey. Our members are truly the Alliance Advantage.