The Elk Creek Fire board agreed to spend up to $30,000 to hire a research firm to create a path forward and inform communities about a proposal to consolidate four fire departments.
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The $30,000 is Elk Creek’s part of a study as the Elk Creek, Inter-Canyon, North Fork and Indian Hills fire departments continue discussions about consolidating into one department. After two years of talking, fire chiefs have asked their boards to authorize the expenditure to help with informing the public about the proposal and asking for feedback.
The Inter-Canyon Fire Board has discussed the proposal but hasn’t voted on it yet.
While the Elk Creek board voted unanimously to spend the money, board member Chuck Newby said he wanted to ensure that the consultant didn’t simply promote consolidation. Rather, he wanted the consultant to provide information on all of the issues, both pro and con.
“I would be a yes vote on this if I were convinced that it is going to be citizen-focused with information that is fact-based and not a marketing-based effort," Newby said, "… Our citizenry expects us to convey facts and figures since there are a lot of unknowns. I want to make sure we provide the public with benefits, but also the possible challenges. I want to make sure we’re very clear and very realistic in presenting that to citizens. I don’t want there to be any misunderstanding.”
Board member Kent Wagner said the departments need to move forward to get feedback from the communities rather than just talking about consolidation among themselves.
Board President Greg Pixley was adamant that the fire departments needed to move forward with studying consolidation.
“We know that we have to find ways to address how to educate the public to find out what their concerns are, so we are better able to give them information for a better understanding of what the consolidation effort means,” Pixley said. “We are different departments, different philosophies, different cultures and different personalities, but we all have the same need, and that is to protect our beautiful community.”
He said it was important to determine the best process to create the most capable fire department that can provide emergency services to thousands of homes.
“We need to find out how to proceed,” he said. “We can’t do this ignorantly. We’re spending … less than $30,000 to explore the process of how to best incorporate our sisters and brothers in our neighboring communities and fire departments to identify the most prudent way for us to have an understanding of how to get the best protection for our community. We know there are dangers, we know there are situations we cannot control, but we can also do our due diligence to provide the process and the capability for our departments to provide the best protection.”
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