F’ville Fire Dept. consolidation eyed — again

Generic photo of firefighter dousing a fire. Photo/Shutterstock.

The idea of consolidating the Fayetteville Fire Dept. with the Fayette County Fire Dept. is back for the second time in two years. Though turned down in mid-2012 by a consensus of the council, the item was back on the retreat agenda after the city received a letter from Fayette County Commission Chairman Steve Brown asking that the topic be discussed.

Council members at the retreat agreed by consensus to ask the county to provide a detailed report outlining the financial and service provision aspects of a possible consolidation.

City Manager Joe Morton in a letter to the council said the item had been placed on the retreat agenda after Brown sent a letter to the mayor and council and all county commissioners about discussing the possibility of the city and county consolidating fire services.

“The issue was reviewed by City Council at the 2012 retreat. At that time, city and county staff completed a comprehensive consolidation analysis with a presentation to City Council in June 2012. Two options were presented for review – a consolidation plan and an alternate plan submitted by the Fayetteville Fire Chief to continue providing this service by reducing staff and operational costs. Although no formal vote was taken by the City Council, the consensus was to go with the alternate plan at that time. All cost-reducing measures have been subsequently implemented,” Morton said.

Back at the retreat for the second time in two years, Fayetteville Fire Chief Alan Jones commented on a February letter by Fayette County Fire Chief David Scarbrough which addressed issues such as automatic aid calls between the city and county, the intergovernmental agreement for fire services in the recently annexed areas of West Fayetteville and population density and response variables between the city and county.

Some on the council questioned if there would be any tension, or push-back, with the county if the council voted against consolidation.

Responding to the comment, Scarbrough said he could speak only for the fire department.

“Alan (Jones) and I can work for the citizens to provide fire services. The (City Council) and the (Fayette County Commission) have to make the decisions,” Scarbrough said. “I’d be out of line to speak for the commissioners.”

Morton responded, saying an area of push-back could be changes in the county’s automatic aid agreement with the city.

Councilman Ed Johnson followed, saying the concern rests largely with elected officials.

Mayor Greg Clifton also responded saying, “I don’t expect that to be the case.”

The discussion continued for a brief time, with Councilman Jim Williams requesting, and the council agreeing, that the county provide the city with a detailed report covering both finances and service provision.

Scarbrough said he believed the report could be available in approximately one month.