ARLINGTON — The city of Arlington will be taking part in a joint regional fire services cooperative effort study, along with half a dozen other agencies, thanks to a unanimous vote of the Arlington City Council on Monday, Dec. 17.
Arlington Fire Chief Bruce Stedman, who had spoken to the Council one week before on Dec. 10, has been recommending since this summer that Arlington take part in a proposed study by ESCI, an international consulting firm that specializes in emergency services cooperative effort studies.
The goal of this study is to identify critical issues facing Arlington and other agencies in their ongoing mission to provide fire and emergency medical services to their citizens. To that end, the study will focus on Arlington and other fire and EMS agencies’ current service levels, strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for cooperative efforts with regional agencies.
The Arlington and Arlington Rural fire and EMS agencies are being joined in participating in this study by similar agencies from Darrington, Silvana, Tulalip Bay, Camano Island and the North County Regional Fire Authority, the latter of which didn’t confirm their own participation until Wednesday, Dec. 12.
Of the total cost of $76,062.92 to fund the study, Arlington will be funding $13,746.55, or approximately 18.05 percent of that total.
“We were fortunate that our friends in North County agreed to participate,” said Arlington City Administrator Allen Johnson, referencing the somewhat more expensive $14,018.41 price tag that Arlington would have had to pay if the North County Regional Fire Authority had not taken part. “The formula for how much each agency paid was based on its population, square miles and assessed property value, which seems to be the fairest way to do it. I’m personally delighted with these numbers. I would have thought that the amount we would have to pay would be much higher.”
With the other participating agencies already having notified Arlington of their commitments on Friday, Dec. 15, the next step on the list is for ESCI to develop a work plan and schedule site visits with all the agencies, in time for all their contracts to be signed on Jan. 15, 2013, at which point ESCI will issue agency information request forms to all its clients.
From there, ESCI expects to start its site visits on Feb. 15, and to complete its feasibility study by Aug. 15, 2013.
“A summer timeframe for a study like this is very prompt,” Johnson said.
“I’m glad so many other agencies are participating,” Arlington City Council member Marilyn Oertle said. “If we can find ways of sharing our resources, we should be able to save the public some money.”
“I was especially interested in the future opportunities to reduce duplications of functions,” said fellow Council member Debora Nelson. “That seems really wise.”