Millbrae fire chief proposes merging training services

Consolidating training services for firefighters with neighboring cities could save the city more than $100,000 annually, Fire Chief Dennis Haag said Monday.

Haag is proposing the change, which would mandate a joint training agreement among Millbrae, San Bruno, San Mateo and the Central County Fire Authority, before the City Council tonight.

“We all have the same mandated training, and since we've been working to drop boundaries and work together on different kinds of calls, it's easier to be on the same page with operating

procedures,” Haag said.

The department already shares a battalion chief and an Emergency Medical Services supervisor with San Bruno and a police chief with Brisbane in an effort to cut costs after a dismal budget two years ago. Fire officials in January started a pilot program to evaluate shared training services and hopes to make it official in the upcoming fiscal year, Haag said.

The department hasn't gotten the new budget projections, but Haag said that last year they were working with approximately $3.9 million.

San Bruno Fire Chief Dan Voreyer said he is “very positive” about the merger, particularly after his department took a $350,000 reduction from its $6.3 million budget last year.

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

“These are small cities, they're not San Francisco,” Jaeck said. “For each agency to fund a quarter-million of the cost annually makes a lot of sense.”

A fire assessment, which was projected to bring in $1.1 million this year, is estimated to bring in $1.2 million of the approximately $11.8 million General Fund budget, Jaeck said.

When those assessments expire in 2010, the city may then explore the option of creating a joint fire authority with San Bruno.

tramroop@examiner.com

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