Cities agree to share fire services into 2008

San Bruno and Millbrae have reaped savings from program linking departments

SAN BRUNO — Shared fire services between the San Bruno and Millbrae Fire Departments — originally part of a pilot program designed to cut costs — will continue through the end of fiscal year 2007-08.

The City Council unanimously voted this week to maintain the program, which has been running in pilot form for the last 15 months, through June 30, 2008.

The two departments have been sharing a battalion chief and truck company as part of this agreement. One battalion chief each day provided command over emergency operations in both cities, which have a combined four fire stations. With the shared truck company services, more personnel were able to respond to emergencies at a time, Voreyer said.

“It’s been a really positive experience sharing these services and we don’t see why it shouldn’t continue for another two years,” Voreyer said.

San Bruno Fire has cut hundreds of thousands of dollars from its budget in recent years, including one battalion chief position when the pilot program was first implemented, Voreyer said.

Sharing services with other cities is a key methodMillbrae has used to cut costs after a dismal budget outlook more than two years ago. Millbrae shares an Emergency Medical Services supervisor with San Bruno, a police chief with Brisbane and, until this fiscal year, shared a Parks and Recreation director with Burlingame.

Consolidating training services for firefighters with neighboring cities, which was proposed by Millbrae Fire Chief Dennis Haag in May, saves the city more than $100,000 annually.

Millbrae City Manager Ralph Jaeck said that as the budget continues to recover, sharing services remains a good long-term option for the city.

A fire assessment in the city of Millbrae, which was put into effect two years ago, was estimated to bring in $1.2 million of the city’s approximately $11.8 million General Fund budget, Jaeck said. Those assessments will sunset in 2009, Voreyer said, so his department did not want the shared services agreement to stretch beyond that time frame.

Once the assessment has ended and the shared services agreement lapses, Voreyer said completely merging forces with Millbrae could be a possibility. But any discussions on that topic are a bit far off.

tramroop@examiner.com

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