Plymouth Considers Turning Over Fire Services to Northville
The proposal calls for Northville to assume fire department and EMS responsibilities for the city of Plymouth.
Northville’s City Council is considering a 12-year agreement to provide fire and EMS services for the city of Plymouth.
“The City of Plymouth asked us back in November to investigate providing them with paid on-call service,” said City Manager Patrick Sullivan. “In the long term, we think it’s going to be a great thing for our fire department.”
The City Council will discuss the proposal at its meeting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. If approved, the agreement will be forwarded to Plymouth's City Commission.
"We're still hammering out all the details," Plymouth City Manager Paul Sincock said. "After Northville approves the agreement, it comes to us (Plymouth City Commission). This is a partnership we thought would be a good way to regionalize Northville's paid on-call resources and cooperate with them as a community."
Plymouth has shared fire services with Plymouth Township for 14 years, but Plymouth officials decided to withdraw this year in order to find a model that would save the city money. The Plymouth-Plymouth Township fire services merger will end Dec. 31.
"We met with Northville about fire services as long as five years ago," Sincock said.
Northville would provide fire services from its current location on Main Street as well as from the Plymouth station behind its City Hall.
The city of Northville proposes providing the following to Plymouth:
- Fire suppression, fire safety inspections and fire prevention education
- 30 to 55 part-time paid on-call firefighters
- EMS response at the basic life-support level
- A proposed budget on March 1 of each year for the next fiscal year
- Open financial records between the cities of Northville and Plymouth
- Possible staffing of the Plymouth station at Plymouth's expense
- The joint department would be party to the Western Wayne County Department Mutual Aid Association
Finances of fire agreement
The proposal makes no mention of specific dollar amounts.
“Under the agreement, Plymouth would reimburse Northville for any and all administrative expenses involved in the startup of the Plymouth station,” according to Sullivan’s report.
These costs would include staff time, recruiting and training up to 25 new paid on-call firefighters in 2011 as well as equipment costs. Plymouth also would pay to staff its station, but those staffers would be considered Northville employees. Any costs for new equipment and "any and all building improvements necessary to create the Plymouth station" would solely fall on Plymouth, according to the agreement.
Both stations would report to Northville Fire Chief James Allen.
“Plymouth would pay its share of our total fire and rescue budget, based on their percentage of run activity,” according to Sullivan's report.
The Interlocal Fire Service Agreement also calls for the creation of an advisory board comprising one City Council member and the city manager of each community. Meeting at least quarterly, the group would review the annual budget and expenditures of more than $100,000.
Sincock said that though the financial details aren't totally worked out, he expects that the partnership would save Plymouth between $400,000 and $500,000 per year.
Plymouth Mayor Dan Dwyer supports the merger of services. "It's been a very positive experience," he said of negotiations. "We'll see where it goes, but I'm optimistic that everything will work out. We have an agreement on cost, and I'm anxious to get going on this."
Northville contracts with Northville Township for its dispatch services. Northville Township Manager Chip Snider said a change could mean that Plymouth contracts with the township or that a new contract might need to be drafted with the city.
"Our dispatch can handle the extra work," Snider said.
But whether any change to dispatch occurs is uncertain right now. He said the township's primary focus will be on providing services to its residents and that the potential addition of Plymouth's calls to Northville Township's dispatch would not be too significant.
Under the city of Northville's proposed agreement, there is no mention of dispatch service. That would be a detail to be ironed out later, Sullivan said.
Northville's City Council will consider the proposal at its meeting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
Plymouth's City Commission is scheduled to meet Monday, and its agenda includes an item calling for a special meeting Thursday between Plymouth and Northville to discuss the agreement.