Fire Departments Announce Shared Service Agreement

By: Alyssa Fenske Email
By: Alyssa Fenske Email

DELHI TOWNSHIP (WILX)-- You may get help from a different fire department during future emergencies.

Municipalities from Lansing, East Lansing, Meridian Township, Lansing Township, Delta Township and Delhi Township have announced three new shared service agreement to enhance the delivery of fire services to the region.

The three agreements include:

1. An agreement between Meridian and Delhi to provide emergency services to Alaiedon Township
2. An agreement between Delhi and Lansing to collaborate on service provision near their border
3. An agreement between Lansing and East Lansing to provide service to MBI Technology building on Collins Road.

Fire departments say this is for the better. The agreements should lead to speedier responses and use less taxpayer money.

"I think we are all in agreement if someone has an emergency, they don't really care whose name is on the side of the fire truck," said Delhi Township Fire Chief Richard Royston.

The new agreements were created so that the closest fire department will respond to an emergency, even if it isn't in their traditional jurisdiction.

"We are providing a better service because a truck is coming from only three quarters of a mile away, compared to seven or eight miles away."

The collaboration was no easy feat. There have been talks about a collaboration for more than ten years. Progress wasn't being made on the idea until a "Shared Public Services" Study was conducted a year ago. The study suggested a careful, phased approach to service sharing between the municipalities.

"It's difficult when you get into turf issues, jurisdictional battles, and tradition," said Mayor Virg Bernero.

The agreements are a win-win situation for both the fire departments and residents in the Alaiedon Township area. Because those residents will now receive emergency response from a closer fire department, their ISO rating should go down. ISO is a rating on a homeowners risk of fire damage; the lower the rating the more they can save.

"All those businesses, all those residents, will pick up our four rating. They will go from a ten to a four, and it will be tremendous savings on their insurance," said Meridian Township Fire Chief Fred Cowper.

If you live in Alaiedon Township it would be a good idea to check with your insurance agent to see if your ISO rating has changed, or to schedule a reassessment.

If the agreements work there is talk about regionalizing the fire departments. Mayor Virg Bernero likes the idea.

"If you are all responding to the closest thing, and you are crossing jurisdictional lines, it makes perfect sense. Why not have a regional fire authority."

Bernero added that an "across-the-board" collaboration between the fire departments would have to be implemented first before regionalism could be an option.

But not everyone is as keen to the idea of regionalism as Bernero.

"It ain't going to happen," said Delhi Charter Township Supervisor C.J. Davis.

Your local fire department can tell you in you're in an area that has changed.

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