Joint fire services study for UH and Shaker Heights

On May 15, consultants from Emergency Services Consulting International (ESCI) spoke to the University Heights community about a Fire Service Feasibility Study between the cities of University Heights and Shaker Heights.

The study focuses on how University Heights and Shaker Heights can efficiently deliver fire services. The study also looks at how the cities can spend less money delivering the same services or spend the same amount of money for increased services. The cities funded the feasibility study with a Cleveland Foundation grant and selected the public safety consulting company, ESCI, to conduct the study and deliver a presentation.

“We hope that what the study will show us at a minimum is how to deliver our services more efficiently,” said Susan Infeld, University Heights mayor.

ESCI studied the fire departments separately before presenting its findings to groups in each city. The presentation included data, such as the call volume of each fire department and the amount of travel time it takes for stations to respond to fires. Philip Kouwe, ESCI senior vice president of operations, noted that the departments share many characteristics. “Basically, any functions that both fire departments have together, you can look at coordinating,” he said.

“The feasibility analysis is really saying to the community: if you work together in your fire departments, this is what it might look like, this is what it might cost, and this is how you might go about it,” Kouwe said.

ESCI encouraged everyone at the meeting to fill out an input survey. The surveys will help ESCI to better understand the community’s concerns with current fire services and the proposed joint fire services, as well as expectations for cooperative services. The information will be factored into the company’s final analysis.

After completing its analysis this summer, ESCI will present a comprehensive report to the cities. “Anything that we deem to be a strategy that’s feasible and that would result in an advantage to the cities, we’re going to provide that in the report,” Kouwe said.

University Heights and Shaker Heights will be able to look at many options, including sharing fire services, sending the closest unit to respond to a fire emergency, consolidation, or a legal merger. Kouwe encouraged the groups to meet to review the report to decide the best options for the cities’ fire services.

Simone Jasper

Simone Jasper is a senior at Beaumont School. She is a staff writer for the Beaumont Voice student newspaper, and an intern for the Heights Observer.

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Volume 5, Issue 6, Posted 2:49 PM, 05.29.2012