Study to look at benefits of possible merger between CKFR, BFD

Whether or not it will be feasible for Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue to merge with Bremerton Fire Department will be known at the conclusion of a six-month feasibility study which will go before the Bremerton City Council Wednesday, Nov. 16. The contract with Emergency Services Consulting inc. (ESCi) was approved by CKFR Commissioners on Monday, Oct. 24.

“I’d like to see it happen. I think it will save us some money,” said Councilor Cecil McConnell of a merger. The item was placed on the council’s consent agenda.

ESCi is a consulting service to public safety agencies throughout the United States and Canada and will determine if a merging of the two entities is mutually beneficial.

“(A merger is) cost effective. It gets more people on the street and is less overhead,” Bremerton Fire Chief Al Duke told the council during its study session Wednesday.

The consultants will not only look at the pros and cons of a possible merger, but also will study the benefits of the two departments maybe not neccessarily merging, but still consolidating at a smaller level.

“They will study a range, anywhere from purchasing toilet paper together to a complete merging,” said CKFR Chief Ken Burdette. “They will look at what makes sense for us to do together and what makes sense for us not to do. Together they might say we’re not as effective to merge, but maybe there’s certain things we can share. They’re trying to look at all aspects.”

The ESCi contract states, “In its work, after researching each service provider, ESCi, and its staff, develops a full range of partnering strategies and options, beginning with a ‘do nothing’ approach and ending with a scenario involving complete consolidation of the two agencies being studied.”

A public meeting has been scheduled for Dec. 19 that will include attendance by CKFR Commissioners and Bremerton City Council members.

“We’ll start the study off with a public meeting,” Burdette said.

Although the study is only between CKFR and BFD, other local fire departments also have been invited to learn more about the study.

Both CKFR and BFD are splitting the cost of the study which will total $35,000 plus the cost of reasonable expenses that is not to exceed more than $2,400. About $20,000 has been set aside in the city’s proposed 2006 budget to fund the study.

CKFR’s portion of the cost will come from its 2006 operations budget.

After several mergers throughout the years there are now six fire departments in the county.

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