Automatic mutual aid means if a fire breaks out, the closest department would respond regardless of jurisdiction. That's one of the first steps to regional collaboration as recommended in a recent study commissioned by six local communities.
"We may find that the complete merger is the way to go as some time goes on or we may find that somewhere short of there is best for our communities," said Delta Township Fire Chief John Clark.
Delta Township was part of the study and Fire Chief John Clark says leaders from all six jurisdictions have met about once every two weeks since June to talk about the details.
"A lot of times a meeting doesn't mean sitting down in a room, there's a lot of emails that fly back and forth," said Chief Clark.
The study recommends cost savings through sharing fire services and even merging, a daunting task to be completed in four stages.The communities are in phase one of the project moving into phase two. All four phases completed could take around seven years.
The first phase is about creating the platform for future collaboration and forming a management structure.
"We're all facing tough budgets and the idea is to get together and see where we could put like services together, save money and save lives. We believe that's possible, the study basically told us that was possible," said Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero.
Lansing and East Lansing took a head start by sharing a fire chief. However, there are still uncertainties as to how fast the project will move and whether there will be a final merger.