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Dearborn Fire Department to Discuss Consolidation with Melvindale

The potential plan to consolidate the two cities' fire services could see action by the end of 2012.

Though any action is still far off, the City of Dearborn confirmed Thursday that talks are under way between Dearborn and Melvindale to explore the idea of consolidation of fire services between the two cities.

Chief Joseph Murray will be meeting with leadership in Melvindale to discuss the possibility further within the next few weeks. The hope is that the discussions result in an official memo to members of city council that will detail what the process would entail, and how the result would or would not benefit both cities in terms of coverage and cost.

As a result, eight vacancies currently within Dearborn’s fire department have not been filled.

Melvindale’s fire department currently employs 15 full-time firefighters, which Murray said would all be retained if the two departments merged services.

However, he added that the Dearborn Fire Department is “still interviewing, in case (the consolidation) doesn’t work.”

Since assuming the office of fire chief in July, Murray  about sharing services–in both informal and formal ways.

Council members on Thursday expressed concern as to how this particular plan would be implemented, especially in terms of keeping up with Dearborn’s standard of services, and how each community would be charged with footing the bill for fire services.

Murray said that a lot of details still needed to be discussed; however, he added that the benefit could be mutual. For example, Murray noted that southwest Dearborn could see quicker fire response from Melvindale’s fire station nearby.

It’s expected that the city will have a clearer view of the issue within the next month.

Bob September 07, 2012 at 10:45 AM
I wonder how this will effect the city's charter-mandated minimum staffing requirements. According to the charter, Section 10.17., "There shall be a separate fire department, the director of which shall be the Fire Chief, who shall be appointed by the Mayor and shall be educated, skilled and qualified by experience in fire science and the administration of a fire department. The Fire Chief shall be the executive officer of the fire department and shall be responsible for the administration of the department. The Fire Chief shall organize and carry out the duties and functions of the department. The City shall employ no less than 1.24 full-time paid professional firefighters for each 1,000 persons residing in the City of Dearborn as indicated by the most recent United States Census." Key words: "SEPARATE" fire department and "THE CITY SHALL EMPLOY" no less than 1.24 full-time paid professional firefighters for each 1,000 persons residing in the City. This makes it sound like if Dearborn consolidates fire services with Melvindale any firefighters employed by Melvindale would NOT count toward the charter-mandated minimum staffing requirements since they are NOT employed by Dearborn, unless I'm misunderstanding the wording. Also, if the department is operating with eight open positions, seems like they are already not following the charter now and it sounds like they don't plan on it until this issue is resolved. Guess the rules don't really matter.
Michael D. Albano September 07, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Thanks Bob. Also, does anyone have any updates on the talks between Dearborn and the Heights merging also?
Michael D. Albano September 07, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Clarifying ?. I meant talks to merge only Dbn. and Hgts. Fire Depts.
Steve Rowley September 07, 2012 at 02:51 PM
The 8 open positions were due to the city delaying interviews, not the fire dept. The fire dept wanted interviews to take place months ago
City of Dearborn (Editor) September 07, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Murray has said that he intends to meet with all neighboring FDs to look at how they can share costs or services - everything from ordering supplies or even trucks at the same time to get discounts, to as far as this possible scenario with Melvindale. As far as Dearborn Heights goes, I don't believe anything further than their current sharing of the fuel pump is in the works, but I'll look into it.
City of Dearborn (Editor) September 07, 2012 at 04:05 PM
That's a very interesting point, Bob. I know that Murray and the city have stated that they're aware of how much work would go into an agreement of this magnitude for such a vital service, so I expect that the answers will come out to many of the questions this raises within the next few weeks.
Moe September 07, 2012 at 04:51 PM
This sounds like a bad deal for Dearborn, the only way to save $$ is to cut personnel. If we close the station in the South end the Melvindale guys can get there faster than from our other stations as long as they are not busy in their own town or on one of their mutual aid runs. Many if not most of the runs the Southend rigs have are in support of the other stations so if this goes down some of our residents may have to wait longer for fire or rescue response if their local station is busy.
Alexander September 07, 2012 at 05:20 PM
These mergers that only involve a couple departments are a bad idea. They are only beign discussed as a last ditch effort to save money and they do not promote effective fire protection. The only case in which a merger is a good idea its if it was county wide or involved several communities that could form a consolidated fire protection district that is proactive in delivering services. That means utilzing combined revenues and redistributing resources so that each community they serve is adequately protected. In this case more personnel could be hired and placed on shift and more resources could be dispatched to a scene without having to hassle with mutual aid agreements and so forth. That's what they do in LA county and many other places.
Lee Jacobsen September 07, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Merging Fire depts is a great idea. Other companies in the private sector do it all the time to get more efficient, and to lower costs. Instead of two Fire chiefs, two ass't fire chiefs etc the top level adm gets lean and mean with just one chief, allowing more funds for firefighters on the ground floor. Last I heard from Dearborn Hts and merging, Dbn Hts was waiting for Dearborn to get more modern with their dispatch and communication devices. Right now , apparently both cities are using different channels? Jessica, can you confirm??
Joe DFD retired September 08, 2012 at 06:14 PM
I think what the new chief has failed to mention is that, response time in any emergency is the biggest factor. Don't forget, the Chief is a Department Head who serves at pleasure to the administration and if other administrators (Finance) convince the Mayor to close Fire Station 3 on Wyoming, because they want money to support other pet projects or perks and play the "LIfe Safety Game" as they do in Detroit, he will order it done. Right now the average response time from Dearborn Sta. 3, 3630 Wyoming, in the Southend is 3-4 minutes. I don't believe anyone has factored in the detour time needed for Melvindale FD to arrive on scene. If the Dix Ave. Draw Bridge is in the up position, for ship passages or just stuck open due to it's age and lack of repair. The detour would be down to Fort St, across the Draw Bridge, if that up isn't open, to Miller Rd, then up into Dearborn or go up to Rotunda, which almost passes Dearborn Fire HQ, and across to Miller Rd and down into the Southend. Right now, it appears they are looking at cash flow.
steve secatch September 09, 2012 at 01:19 PM
It does work. Tri City fire Dept contracts with West Bloomfield for 4 on duty FF/ paramedics per shift. WBFD provides the equip and Tri City supplies the station. The contract cut WB response times in parts of their Township where their 5 station have long response time and they receive ALS transport fees in these 3 cities , plus thousands of dollars from their contract to provide services. The FFs are waiting for calls all day long, might as well response to border cities and collect easy money to help keep their taxpayers cost lower. With over 100 FF, Dearborn could handle extra 3 or 4 runs a day
Mark Moros September 10, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Merging can work If done properly. In the early 1900's Dearborn twp, Fordson and Springwells all merged to become the City of Dearborn. Why cant we learn from the past and merge entire municipalities rather than just departments? That would be a true savings to the taxpayers. Plymouth Twp and the City of Plymouth merged fire departments approximately 10 years ago which gave them 30 full time firefighters. That merger failed miserably because the two separate sets of polititions could not work together. Now the City of Plymouth has a volunteer fire department and Plymouth Twp is down to 14 firefighters. Talk about going backwards.
Michael D. Albano September 10, 2012 at 07:30 PM
As long as a consolidation save the cities money and doesn't affect the quality of Fire Department or the response times, I have no issue with it. There is so much waste in government it's unbelievable. Take the city of Dearborn Heights for example - approx 1/2 the pop and land aprea of Dbn, yet it has 3 school districts. That means 3 superintendents 21 school board members and who knows how many school board Board. employees
Rudy Caparros December 17, 2012 at 07:55 PM
WARNING: FIRST RESPONDERS' use of THE CHLORINE INSTITUTE "C" KIT may cause the catastrophic failure of a chlorine tank car, instantly creating a toxic gas plume with a distance of not less than seven miles. The first mile will have chlorine concentrations of 1,000 ppm, causing death after one or two breaths with no opportunity for escape. TO learn more, see PETITION C KIT, click on "First Responder Warnings."
Lee Jacobsen December 17, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Cal, since chlorine gas tank cars are not around, your warning is 'moot'.

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