Aberdeen and Hoquiam discussing merger of Fire Departments
Aberdeen and Hoquiam have begun exploring the process of consolidation their fire and paramedic services, Aberdeen Mayor Bill Simpson told his city council last night “Over the last couple of weeks we have been meeting with [Hoquiam City Administrator] Brian Shay, [Hoquiam Finance Director] Mike Folkers, [Aberdeen Fire Chief] Tom Hubbard and [Aberdeen Finance Director] Kathrine Skolrood talking about what we could do to merge the two fire departments together. Last Thursday we met with the Unions, and they are all ready to help.”
A joint press release from the two cities said the idea is to find ways to cut costs while continuing to deliver the same level of service to the community.
In the spirit of cooperative governance, the Cities of Aberdeen and Hoquiam are expecting to explore options for the creation of a new regional approach for delivering fire protection and paramedic services. Aberdeen Mayor Bill Simpson and Hoquiam Mayor Jack Durney have authorized their respective staffs to permit formal discussions exploring the feasibility of consolidation of the two fire agencies.
“A lot has changed recently and we are constantly looking at ways to deliver services more efficiently and effectively,” said Hoquiam Mayor Jack Durney. “Our Fire Departments already respond jointly and work well together. It’s a natural fit.” said Aberdeen Mayor Bill Simpson.
The primary purpose of these discussions is to find ways to jointly improve the efficiency, economy and effectiveness in delivering sustainable fire protection and paramedic services for the two communities. In a phased approach, the intent would be to create a single department reducing costs and developing a streamlined approach to fire suppression, paramedic, and disaster preparedness to both communities.
“Our local looks forward to being involved in these discussions with the hopes of providing a safer, more efficient service to the communities we strive to protect. We as an organization continually look for ways to adapt and improve what we do and look at this potential consolidation as a proactive step to help our individual organizations remain viable in the future,” said Aberdeen IAFF President Dave Swinhart. “We are excited to work on this together with Aberdeen as a way to potentially improve service to the citizens and create a more sustainable model for our agencies to continue to provide these services for generations to come,” said Hoquiam IAFF President Doug Stankavich.
The Aberdeen Fire Department has a budget of $5.1 million with 37 employees and the Hoquiam Fire Department has a budget of $2.8 million with 22 employees.
More information will be provided as this analysis unfolds.