The agreement, which allows sharing of many administrative and support resources and names CVFD chief Scott Freitag as head of both districts, was approved by the CYFD during their meeting earlier on Thursday.
The unanimous approval by the CVFD board was greeted by applause from the audience that included CYFD Assistant Chief of Administration Dave Tharp, Interim Chief Scott Bliss, and Interim Chief of Operations Jeff Polacek.
“Immediately we’re going to see some increased efficiencies,” said Freitag. Current supervisors on both districts are overseeing from seven to 10 people instead of the ideal three to seven. “We’re going to see that division of labor happening which is going to make things more efficient in both organizations.”
Freitag said Bliss will remain in the interim chief role through the transition, then take his new position as Assistant Chief of Support Services, which includes the vehicle maintenance department, vehicle purchasing, facilities maintenance, communications division, and research planning and development for both districts.
David McConnell has a unique view on the JMA in that he has sat on the CVFD board for about six years, all while serving as a captain with the CYFD.
In his 25 or so years with CYFD, McConnell says he has seen many changes in the population of the area, and knows the battles both the CVFD and CYFD face in stretching their dollars while providing the best possible service to their respective communities.
“The biggest advantage we’re going to see from this agreement is the ability to minimize our overhead so we can afford things like firefighters and the equipment we need to do our job,” said McConnell. “Our budgets keep getting cut but our expenses keep going up. Fuel, EMS supplies, firefighter gear, these costs keep going up and things keep getting tight. Now we can take our limited funds and spend them the best we can.”
Freitag said the JMA has drawn the attention of other municipalities and districts, many who are interested to see how both districts will work out the transitional bugs.
“We’ve seen some similar agreements on the west coast, and the Camp Verde and Montezuma-Rimrock have a contract for (shared) fire chief, but this contract goes a little bit further, “said Freitag. The CVFD/CYFD JMA provides a sharing of the entire administrative staff, including HR, finance, operations, Admin Chiefs, support services, and, according to Freitag, Battalion Chiefs in the future.
Freitag said that while some other districts in Arizona have done similar agreements, the scope and details of this JMA made it very unique.
“It’s laying some groundwork. We’ve been contacted by chiefs in the Flagstaff and surrounding area that want to come down and talk to us about what we’ve done and what we’re looking to do,” said Freitag. “We’re going to learn. As with anything new it’s going to grow and evolve. What makes this work so well with our two organizations are the people that are in the positions they’re in. We have people that are liked minded and work together. I don’t think in my career I’ve ever seen two staffs from separate agencies that work so well together.”