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Wake County Fire Departments

Closures & Mergers

 

Last updated: June 9, 2017

Introduction

This summary of closers and mergers of Wake County Fire Departments excludes:

  • Mergers of rural FDs into their respective municipal FDs or vice-versa. They consist of Apex, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, Morrisville, Wake Forest, Wendell, and Zebulon.
  • Fire stations closed and relocated with 2.5 miles of their old location. Such as Cary Station 1, Raleigh Station 2 (Memorial Auditorium to Pecan Road), and Six Forks (both Six Forks and Lynn Road locations).

1960s-1980s

1960 - Western Boulevard FD closes, after city annexes most of their district. The members form Fairgrounds FD the following year, and build a fire station located 1.4 miles north.

1982 - Wake Forest FD #2 ceases operation, ahead of following year's merger of Wake Forest FD and Wake Forest Rural FD.

1990s

1992, circa - Durham Highway FD closes Station 1 on Davis Drive, after city annexes site.

1993, June 24 - Raleigh FD closes Station 4 on Wake Forest Road. New Station 4 is opened five miles to north, on northern edge of the city.

1994, Wake County Fire Commission (WCFC) receives fire service study from TriData. Blog Post - November 3, 2009.

1998, July 1 - Fairgrounds FD and Yrac FD merge to form Western Wake FD. The Fairgrounds fire station is designed Station 1, the Yrac fire station is designated Station 3.

2002

2002, July 1 - Six Forks FD merges with Bay Leaf FD. The Six Forks fire station is designated Bay Leaf Station 3.

2002, October 24 - WCFC votes to choose Tri-Data as vendor to conduct Wake County Fire/EMS Capital Facility and Equipment Study. Study committee is later created.wcfc-minutes

2003

2003, Fire Marshal reports that the study committee has received second draft of Tri-Data report. (November 20, 2003)wcfc-minutes

2004

2004, January 8 - WCFC receives presentation about Tri-Data study. It includes recommendations closing seven fire stations:

  • Falls
  • Western Wake #1
  • Western Wake #2
  • New Hope #1
  • Eastern Wake #2
  • Bay Leaf #3
  • Morrisville #3.

Report excerpts:

Recommendation Impact Implementation Timeframe
Initiate closure process for Falls Station 1 No adverse system impact. The 330 calls that the Falls FD ran last year will be distributed to surrounding fire stations. This is less than one call per day distributed across three stations, so there should be virtually no impact on the operations of those stations. Closing the station does not lead to an increase in the number of road miles beyond effective reach in the region. Begin detailed closure analysis and transition process in FY2005
Initiate closure process for MFD Station 3 when CFD Station 7 opens next door. No adverse system impact. The County should contract with the Cary FD to provide service (Morrisville Station 3 had 98 calls last year, or one call every three days). Begin detailed closure analysis and transition process linked with CFD Station 7 development process.
Initiate closure process for WWFD Station 1 No adverse system impact. The area is within the effective reach of Raleigh Stations 8 and 14. The call volume would not amount to more than two calls per day. Raleigh FD could reuse the station. Raleigh FD might need to provide RWS in some of its non-hydranted areas; the County should assist in this effort by transferring an excess RWS unit to Raleigh FD. Begin detailed closure analysis and transition process in FY2005
Initiate closure process for WWFD Station 2; lease to [Cary] (if they wish) No adverse system impact. The station lies entirely within the Town of Cary FD. The station serves primarily doughnut holes, some state land, and some stretches of Interstate. The call volume presently handled by Western Wake Station 2 could be redistributed to the Cary FD stations and would not amount to one or two calls a day at the most. Begin detailed closure analysis and transition process in FY2005
Initiate closure process for W-NHFD Station 1 No adverse system impact. The station lies entirely within the City of Raleigh. The 550 calls that W-NHFD Station 1 ran last year represent a total additional workload of fewer than two calls per day to be distributed across five surrounding Raleigh FD stations. Begin detailed closure analysis and transition process in FY2005
Initiate closure process for EWFD Station 2 No adverse system impact. This station lies entirely within the Town of Knightdale, which is now protected by the Knightdale DPS. The 480 calls that EWFD Station 2 ran last year represent a total additional workload of fewer than two calls per day that the KDPS, W-NHFD WFD, and RFD might need to cover. (We recommend using the station as an EMS station.) Begin detailed closure analysis and transition process in FY2005
Initiate closure process for Bayleaf Station 3 (as a fire station) Its service areas are donut holes within Raleigh. (We recommend continuing to use it as an EMS station.) Begin detailed closure analysis and transition process in FY2005

Closure of a fire or EMS station is a special case and will necessitate the following steps:

  1. Ensure adequate alternative coverage through a negotiated contract with a surrounding fire department to provide the needed services.
  2. Meet with affected volunteers and paid personnel. Attempt to secure placement for volunteers or employees of other departments, as soon as possible. (More new stations (8) are proposed than are recommended to be closed (6), but some of the closings may come before the openings.
  3. Perform only emergency/critical repairs to the physical plant in the near future (i.e., only those repairs needed to keep the building in service until closure is completed or until the use can be converted).
  4. Decommission rolling stock (i.e., apparatus) by beyond or near the end of its useful life. Transfer title of remaining equipment to the County or other fire departments in the county.
  5. Transfer or sell surplus emergency equipment, disposable supplies, office and training equipment.
  6. Notify the community and be prepared to work with community leaders to ensure that residents and businesses understand that alternative arrangements have been made to assure needed emergency response.

Cost Allocation Methodology for Contracting Out

As discussed in Chapter IV, our recommended station location plan calls for the closure of six existing fire stations in unincorporated Wake County. The calls currently assigned to these stations would be distributed to surrounding fire stations. To accomplish this, the County would need to contract with the City of Raleigh, Town of Knightdale, and Town of Cary to arrange coverage for the small unincorporated areas that would be closer to a municipal fire station than to another Wake County station.

Such an arrangement should be cost-effective for both the County and affected jurisdictions, providing that a fair contract can be negotiated. Otherwise, there are areas of the county for which Wake County would be required to provide expensive fire protection services, if keeping the stations open, or provide lower levels of service, if the stations are closed without an alternative service provider, which we do not recommend. The County would be securing currently available excess response capacity from each department. Raleigh, Cary, and Knightdale all have stations with relatively low call volumes for career-staffed departments (well under 2,000 calls per year).

The County would be asking each city to go on additional calls to the unincorporated areas instead of waiting for the next call in the city. In most cases, no significant additional staffing or resources would be required by the adjoining department to pick up the workload transferred. (In some cases, a tanker may be needed.) There would be minor wear and tear added to equipment, facilities, and perhaps on personnel, and some expendables. The additional workload would be divided between several stations that overlap the areas of the county where stations may close. The total annual increase is estimated to be on the order of one to two calls (at most) per unit per day for the affected stations, so the County would truly taking advantage of the currently available excess fire service capacity.

[ Continued in the report. ]

See:

2004, January 22 - WCFC votes to not recommend the study to the Board of Commissioners:

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

STATION LOCATION / APPARATUS REPLACEMENT

Raymond Echevarria began discussion of TriData’s final report of the Fire/EMS Capital Facility and Equipment Study.

Raymond Echevarria provided Study Team’s report to the Fire Commission. The report is included as attachment A.

The Fire Commission began discussion of the report. Chief Scottie Harris guided comments by all Fire Commission members and persons in attendance.

Chief Tom Vaughn presented a series of questions and comments from fire chiefs and Fire Commission members. The questions and concerns are included as attachment B.

After discussion, Chief Vaughn motioned:

Do not recommend study to the Wake County Board of Commissioners since the study is based on inaccurate CAD data, is incomplete, and does not give specific information on how to accomplish the recommendations.

After second by Chief Harris, the motion passed unanimously.

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APPENDIX

The WCFC received a document listing the recommendations of the study, the recommendations of the study team, and questions/comments from the commission and fire chiefs. The document included:

Chapter IV. Station Locations and Unit Redeployment

Fire Stations (including unit redeployment)

Study Recommendation:

A set of 18 fire station closures, relocations, and openings is recommended, as shown in Table 37 of the final report. There are slight variations presented as alternative scenarios in Chapter IV.

The recommended station The Study Team is committed to efficient and effective fire protection service in Wake County. TriData offers the untested assertion that, in several service areas, a neighboring fire department will be able to offer the same (or better) service than a department presently delivering the service, Recommendations Study Team Recommendation – Fire Study Team Recommendation – EMS EMS/Rescue Chiefs’ Action Fire Commission Action closings, moves, new stations, and unit redeployments are an integrated set and need to be considered as a package. Elements can be changed, but the changes may require a related series of other changes (e.g., if a station recommended to be closed is not closed, its units obviously

Study Team Recommendation:

The Study Team is committed to efficient and effective fire protection service in Wake County. TriData offers the untested assertion that, in several service areas, a neighboring fire department will be able to offer the same (or better) service than a department presently delivering the service, at a lower cost. We recommend that Wake County not support closure of any fire station until TriData’s assertions can be tested through negotiation and cost benefits analysis, and the following conditions are confirmed during the process: that (a), there is a more effective and efficient alternative available for delivery of fire protection services in a given service area, and (b) the alternative fire department is ready and willing to negotiate an agreement with Wake County to do so. Wake County should begin the negotiation and cost-benefits analysis immediately, with the goal to present the results and any closure recommendations to the Wake County Board of Commissioners no later than December 31, 2004. For new fire station locations, it is understood that all proposed station locations are approximate (even when an exact address was indicated); and the locations can be finetuned based on land availability, cost, and other factors. For any recommended new fire station located inside a municipality, the Study Team recommendation does not imply a Wake County responsibility addition, renovation or replacement of any fire station located in a municipality unless the addition, renovation or removal helps Wake County meet its service-level objectives in a response area where those objectives are not being met.

Fire Commission/Fire Chiefs Questions/Comments

Totally disagree: 90% projectile can be accomplished by reducing CAD time and providing 24 hr. coverage at each station. Do not agree to closing stations which are paid for and replacing with 1.5 to 2 million dollar stations. Waste of taxpayer money where not needed. Donut holes should be handled individually where municipalities agree to contract with Wake Co. at a price less expensive than what current costs are.

Another Fire Station Recommendation

Study Recommendation:

6. The County should negotiate arrangements for municipalities to cover unincorporated areas near them when in the interests of the majority of citizens in the area.

Study Committee Recommendation:

The Study Team is committed to efficient and effective fire protection service in Wake County. TriData offers the untested assertion that, in several service areas, a neighboring fire department will be able to offer the same (or better) service than a department presently delivering the service, at a lower cost. We recommend that Wake County not support contracting with a municipality to provide fire protection in unincorporated areas near them until TriData’s assertions can be tested through negotiation and cost benefits analysis, and the following conditions are confirmed during the process: that (a), there is a more effective and efficient alternative available for delivery of fire protection services in a given service area, and (b) the alternative fire department is ready and willing to negotiate an agreement with Wake County to do so. Wake County should begin the negotiation and cost-benefits analysis immediately, with the goal to present the results and any recommendation(s) to contract with a municipality to the Wake County Board of Commissioners no later than December 31, 2004.wcfc-minutes

2004, July 15 - WCFC approves list of criteria to evaluate fire stations for closure:

Facilities subcommittee reports on the facilities component of the Fire Service Long Range Business Plan. They've developed a list of criteria recommended to be looked when evaluating fire stations for closure. The list is:

Criteria for Closing Fire Stations

  • Number of firefighters on initial unit – for structural fire dispatch – and response time to get first arriving unit.
  • Is water supply a problem? If no hydrants, how long will it take to get tankers on the scene?
  • Change in ISO grade (better or worse).
  • Compliance with proposed service level response time goals (urban, suburban, rural).
  • Cost to provide service based upon a long-term contract.
  • Are other services impacted or provided that will no longer be provided? (rescue, brush, tanker)
  • What future costs are anticipated (for both the current fire service provider and the proposed department)? i.e. apparatus replacement, station replacement or renovations.

If there is measurably better service at same cost, consider the proposal alternative. If the same service can be provided at less cost, consider the proposal alternative.

Other Considerations

  • Workload should be considered based on the number of incidents that originate in the primary service area and not based on the number of incidents responded to by units in the station?
  • Need to evaluate the impact on current forced annexation contract areas (number of responses and the cost for service).
  • Any savings/efficiencies created by closing fire stations are to be used to support operating expenses in the fire tax fund.

Chief Harris motioned, “Fire Commission agrees with and supports this list of criteria and considerations and requests the County Manager to begin discussions with Raleigh and Cary. To enable the Fire Commission to meet its commitment to complete a long-range business plan by January 2005, the Fire Commission requests a report on the status of the discussions at the September meeting.”

Chief Vaughn seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.wcfc-minutes

2006

2006, January 19 - WCFC:

FIRE STATION CLOSURE EVALUATION PROCESS 

Ray Echevarria provided copies of draft process for fire station closure evaluation and draft budget approaches for fire station closure. Upon second to Mr. Dewey Poole’s motion to adopt the documents, the Fire Commission unanimously approved Mr. Poole’s motion.wcfc-minutes

2006, January 19 - WCFC informed that the Fire Marshal's office has held a meeting with the Western Wake Board of Directors, and the process of evaluating Station #2 for closure is continuing.wcfc-minutes

2006, July 20 - WCFC:

REPORT FROM COMBINED APPARATUS, BUDGET, AND FACILITY COMMITTEE MEETING

Ray Echevarria provided a report from a combined meeting of the apparatus, budget, and facility committees. Their discussion centered on the impact of committee work associated with stations identified in the Fire Service Long Range Business Plan for closure evaluation. The committee made the following three recommendations:

  1. Operating budget issues: Continue funding to maintain service. All expansion requests will be closely reviewed.
  2. Facility related issues: Do only work that is necessary to maintain service. Not all work will be completed, and each item will be evaluated individually to identify need.
  3. Apparatus replacement issues: Each apparatus or vehicle due for replacement will be evaluated individually to determine need.

Mr. Myrick made a motion to accept the recommendations as proposed, seconded by Mr. Poole. The motion passed unanimously.

2006, November 16 - WCFC:

REPORT ON EVALUATION AND APPLICATION OF FIRE COMMISSION’S CLOSURE CRITERIA – WESTERN WAKE FIRE STATION #2

Ray Echevarria reported that at an earlier meeting with the Western Wake Board of Directors, the Board requested that tonight’s presentation.

Mr. Gatewood, made a motion, seconded by Ms. Hinson, to postpone the presentation of the report. The motion passed unanimously.

2007

2007, January 18 - WCFC:

Ray [Echevarria ] provided an update on the work with Western Wake regarding the station closure recommendation. A special-called meeting of the Fire Commission may be held in the next few weeks regarding the recommendation.wcfc-minutes

2007, April 16 - WCFC receives:

Report from Fire Marshal's office on closing Western Wake Station #2. The report contained the following staff recommendations:

  • Discontinue funding service from Western Wake Fire Station #2 (does not effect full-time employee at Station #1)
  • Create “Cary Suburban Fire Insurance District”
  • Contract with Town of Cary Fire Department to serve Cary Suburban Fire Insurance District
  • Effective July 1, 2007

The recommendation included that the Fire Commission refer this report to the committees for consideration.

[Western Wake Fire] Chief Jim Bona presented Western Wake’s response to the report presented. Chief Bona’s report explained that it has not been shown that the station closure would not clearly demonstrate an acceptable cost savings and would possibly result a lower level of service to some areas. Western Wake requests that a station closure not be recommended unless the criteria can be justified beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Discussion and questions from Fire Commission members followed.

A motion was made to appoint a special committee consisting of two members from the apparatus, staffing, and facility committees to research this issue. Any other Fire Commission members are welcome as well. The motion was made by Chief Vaughan and seconded by Mr. Jones. The motion carried unanimously.wcfc-minutes

2007, May 10 - WCFC receives:

WESTERN WAKE FIRE STATION #2 AD HOC COMMITTEE

Chief Perry provided a report on the ad hoc committee on Western Wake #2 closure. The committee is in agreement with the intent to close the fire station; however, they do not agree with the July 2007 time frame. At this point, the committee is working towards a July, 2008 implementation; however will wait until the next meeting to make a recommendation to the Commission, after further information is obtained.wcfc-minutes

2007, July 19 - WCFC accepts recommendation from Western Wake Station 2 closure ad hoc committee.

Chief Sidney Perry presented a report on the Western Wake Ad Hoc committee. The committee recommends that the Fire Commission:

  1. Discontinue funding for Western Wake Fire Station #2 effective July 1, 2008
  2. Create a Cary Suburban Fire Insurance District
  3. Contract with Cary Fire Department to serve the Cary Suburban Fire Insurance District
  4. Contract with Cary Fire Department to provide a supplemental response to Western Wake in those areas currently in Station 2’s area that will not be part of the Cary Suburban Fire Insurance District.

Committee recommendations regarding apparatus and personnel were discussed.

[Western Wake Fire] Chief Bona addressed questions and explained issues that Western Wake has with the closure of the fire station, including the impact on insurance grading, personnel, and apparatus concerns.

[Wake County Fire Services Director] Ray Echevarria explained that if, at some future time, information becomes available different than expected (i.e. insurance grading outcomes or a change by the Town of Cary), that information will be brought back to the Fire Commission for evaluation. Chief Haraway made a motion to accept the committee recommendation as stated. Mr. Fletcher seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.wcfc-minutes

2007, September 20 - WCFC:

[Wake County Fire Services Director] Ray Echevarria presented the current status and action plan for the service replacement of Western Wake Fire Station #2. The goal is to have an agreement in place prior to the beginning of the FY09 budget preparation cycle.

Ray called attention to the fire station closure section of the business plan. Due to the completion of the Western Wake evaluation, he solicited the Commission’s pleasure regarding proceeding with another station for evaluation. Mr. Jones expressed that he desired that the Facility Committee develop a recommendation and bring it back to the Commission. This was the consensus of the Commission.wcfc-minutes

2007, November 15 - WCFC:

The Facilities Committee also identified stations to be evaluated for possible closure. These stations are to be evaluated for potential closures at the rate of one evaluation per year over the next several years. The stations identified for evaluation are Bay Leaf Station 3, Falls, Wake-New Hope 1, Western Wake 1, and Eastern Wake 2. Much discussion followed on the ranking of fire stations to be evaluated. The Fire Commission asked the Facility Committee to develop criteria for adding fire stations to the list for closure evaluation.

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CARY FIRE DEPARTMENT CONTRACT FOR CARY SUBURBAN FIRE DISTRICT

Ray Echevarria presented a draft list of items to be included in the contract to be negotiated with Cary Fire Department for serving the Cary Suburban Fire District. The list of items were explained and discussed.

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PUBLIC COMMENTS

Dewey Poole explained that as a result of Eastern Wake 2’s addition to the possible facility closure list, he met with Chief Gupton to explain why this action was taken. Mr. Poole distributed the criteria for evaluating fire station closure.wcfc-minutes

2008

2008, March 20 - WCFC:

In his Facilities Committee report, Chief Brinson provided an update on the Fire Station Closure evaluation project.wcfc-minutes

2009, May 8 - WCFC:

The Facilities Committee provided an update of the fire station closure evaluation process:

As requested by the Fire Commission, the Facility Committee has completed their obligation for ranking the list of fire stations to be evaluated for closure. No further direction by the Facility Committee will be taken.

PUBLIC COMMENTS

Chief David Cates provided comments regarding the closure of Western Wake station #2 and budgetary implications. Chief Cates explained that significant savings cannot be realized from station closures.wcfc-minutes

2008, June 16 - WCFC:

County Commissioners approve recommendation of WCFC to close Western Wake Station 2 starting July 1, and with the Cary FD starting contracted service of the newly created Cary Suburban Fire District. They vote to discontinue funding of the fire station. Four other county-funded fire stations are being evaluated for closure: Bay Leaf #3, Falls, New Hope #1, and Western Wake #1.mjl-blog

2008, June 30 - Western Wake Station 2 at 325 E. Durham Road closed. The fire station is no longer dispatched for responses to the former Yrac Fire District. The fire department retains ownership of the property, and continues using the building.

2008, July 17 - WCFC:

Chief Vaughan inquired about the fire station closure evaluation process. Director Echevarria informed the Fire Commission that the process is pending a meeting between the County Manager and Raleigh’s City Manager to determine Raleigh’s interest in the project.wcfc-minutes

2008, September 18 - WCFC:

Apparatus committee presents their recommendation for apparatus replacement plan, which includes:

If an individual Station is on the Fire Commission list for possible closure, delay all replacements until a decision is made to either close or not to close the Station, this will be the same criteria being utilized by the Facilities Committee.wcfc-minutes

2008, November 20 - WCFC:

FIRE/RESCUE DIRECTOR REPORT

Fire Services Director Echevarria informed the Fire Commission that information requested at the November 5, 2008, work session is provided for information only. Director Echevarria also informed the Fire Commission that a kickoff meeting was held for the fire station closure evaluation process.wcfc-minutes

2009

2009, January 15 - WCFC:

OTHER BUSINESS

Lee Price asked Director Echevarria about the status of the fire station closure evaluation process. Director Echevarria informed the Fire Commission that the incident data is under review and the process continues.wcfc-minutes

2009, May 21 - WCFC approves merger plan for Falls and Wake Forest fire departments:

Battalion Chief Lee Price asked about the status of the fire station closure evaluation process. Battalion Chief Price asked for a report on the process at the July 16, Fire Commission meeting.

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MERGER PLAN FOR WAKE FOREST AND FALLS FIRE DEPARTMENT

Wake Forest Fire Chief Freddy Lynn provided the Fire Commission a proposal outlining a proposed merger of the Wake Forest and Falls Fire Departments. Chief Lynn advised the Fire Commission that the Presidents of both departments’ boards have signed a letter authorizing the merger, and the merger will take approximately two years to complete.

Chief Lynn answered questions from Fire Commission members about the proposal.

After discussion, Mr. Billy Myrick motioned for the Fire Commission to accept the proposal and allow up to two years for the merger. After a second by Ms. Suggs, the motion passed on a unanimous vote.wcfc-minutes

2009, July 16 - WCFC receives:

REPORT ON EVALUATION AND APPLICATION OF FIRE COMMISSION’S FIRE STATION CLOSURE CRITERIA

Director Echevarria provided an outline of the evaluation and application of the Fire Commission’s fire station closure criteria to four fire stations – Bay Leaf Fire Station #3, Falls Fire Station, Wake New Hope Fire Station #1 and Western Wake Fire Station #1.

The presentation summarized the staff analysis of the criteria adopted by the Fire Commission. Director Echevarria advised the Fire Commission that cost data is incomplete, and he is waiting for an estimated fire contract cost from the City of Raleigh.

After the presentation, the Fire Commission discussed the information and next steps. Fire Commission members decided to focus on the first two fire stations recommended for action in the report – Bay Leaf Fire Station #3 and Falls Fire Station. Fire Commission members discussed the importance of allowing the fire departments to provide information in response to the report.

After discussion, it was the consensus of the Fire Commission to schedule a special called meeting prior to the September meeting to allow the Bay Leaf and Falls Fire Departments an opportunity to provide feedback on the report. Additionally, Fire Commission members wanted to schedule the special called meeting after receiving cost data from the Raleigh Fire Department.wcfc-minutes

2009, July - Falls and Wake Forest fire departments begin process to merge Falls into Wake Forest. - Blog Post.

2009, October 12 - Wake County Board of Commissioners receive update from the Wake County Fire Marshal on the fire station closure project.

They're shown a presentation which includes (a.) complete assessment of cost criterion, (b.) Fire Commission reviews staff analysis, (c.) Fire Commission receives feedback from fire departments and others, (d.) Fire Commission considers recommendation, (e.) Informational sessions for citizens in areas served by fire stations, and (f.) Recommendation forwarded to Board of Commissioners. The fire stations evaluated for closure: Bay Leaf #3, Falls, New Hope #1, and Western Wake. - Blog Post

2009, November 21 - WCFC receives:

Update from Fire Marshal on fire station closure process. Their office is still waiting on the Raleigh Fire Department to return their proposal for providing suburban fire protection to the areas covered by the stations being evaluated for closure. That information is expected soon, and a special-called Fire Commission meeting is expected in December. At that special-called meeting both Falls and Bay Leaf fire departments are expected to make presentations to the Fire Commission. The Fire Marshal's office is also planning information workshops for citizens, perhaps in January. They're also planning to create an e-mail address and voicemail number, for citizens to provide feedback. - Blog Post

2010

2010, January 21 - WCFC votes to suspend fire station closure process.

Western Wake, Wake-New Hope, Bay Leaf, and Falls fire stations were undergoing evaluation, to see if contracted city protection would provide equal or cheaper cost, but at the same or higher level of service.  the county fire marshal reports that the city's cost for contracted protection of those station areas was higher than the county's cost. Specific numbers are not provided, and no action was requested from the group by the fire marshal. After extensive discussion and based on the verbal information about the numbers, the commission approves a two-part motion. First, to suspend the closure process. Second, begin evaluating county fire resources-- stations, staffing, apparatus, etc.-- on a county-wide basis. Points made and issues raised during the above discussion include the length of time that the closure process had been taking (nearly six years), the two earlier studies made that suggested station closures in 1993 and 2004, the need for possible improvements and added resources to the four aforementioned stations, and the city's limitations with regard to protecting areas without hydrants.

From minutes: Informed the Fire Commission that the City of Raleigh has provided a cost estimate that exceeds the current cost of service delivery. He also advised the Fire Commission that the proposal was under review by the County Manager’s office. Fire Commission members expressed concern about the length of time the closure evaluation process is taking, the lack of cost data, and lack of details on service delivery. Members discussed the need to evaluate fire protection on a countywide basis rather than focusing on the four fire stations. After discussion, Battalion Chief Lee Price motioned for the Fire Commission to not support the fire station closure project and evaluate fire protection on a countywide basis. Chief David Cates seconded the motion. During discussion, Commissioner Coble offered a friendly amendment to “suspend” the fire station closure project. Chief Price accepted the friendly amendment to his motion. The amended motion passed on a unanimous vote.wcfc-minutes

Blog Post

2010, June 25 - Western Wake Old Station 2 sold to private owner, who uses the building for vehicle storage and repair. The 3,222 square-foot building is a one-story, cinderblock building on a 0.56 acre site.wake-real-estate-records

2011, July 25 - Wake Forest and Falls fire departments sign operational consolidation contract, the first legal step toward merging Falls with Wake Forest.

Sources:

2012

2012, January 19 - WCFC:

Wake Forest Fire Department / Falls Fire Department Merger

[Wake County staff member] Demetric Potts reported that Wake Forest Fire Department and Falls Fire Department entered into a full Operational Consolidation in July 2011. They have established multiple committees to assist with the administrative issues and procedures during the merger process. They have also established a guideline for their volunteers so that everyone has the same expectations. Chief Early and Chief Wilson have jointly established the new organizational structure for Wake Forest Fire Department. The departments have been in contact with the NC Secretary of State regarding the paperwork for dissolution of the Falls Fire Department and the merging of the two departments. The merger has been moved up to this March/April in order to include the Falls District with the Wake Forest ISO rating inspection.wcfc-minutes

2012, March 22 - WCFC receives recommendation from County Manager that fire departments look at consolidations and margers:

SUPPORT MODIFICATION OF WAKE FOREST AND FALLS FIRE INSURANCE DISTRICT BOUNDARIES

[Wake County Fire Services Director] Ray Echevarria stated that one of the goals of the Board of Commissioners is to see mergers and consolidations of fire departments to promote efficient and effective fire protection services. Ray stated that we have just that going on with the merger of the Wake Forest and Falls Fire Departments. Wake Forest Fire Department is also scheduled for an ISO inspection which is when the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) comes to do grade and assign them a public protection classification. It was reported that Wake Forest and Falls Fire Department were told by OSFM that it would be in their best interest to merge prior the inspection. Ray reported that all fire insurance district boundaries have to be approved by the Board of Commissioners and we were taking that to the Board and tonight we are looking for the Fire Commission’s support. Upon motion of Chief Cates and second by Lee Price, the Fire Commission unanimously approved support for the Modification of the Wake Forest and Falls Fire Insurance District Boundaries.

FIRE TAX DISTRICT MERGERS AND CONSOLIDATIONS

County Manager David Cooke stated that there are two goals that the Board of Commissioners has, one is to look at consolidations and mergers not only in the Fire Service but also in EMS and there have been a number of those already done. Another goal is to not raise the property tax rate due to the climate of the economy. Mr. Cooke stated that he thinks those two things are related, and he stated that this is from the Manager’s Office perspective so he is going to own this, and it is a document that he shared in October with the Durham Highway Board. Mr. Cooke stated that what he wanted to establish as part of that context was that if you look at just a ten year perspective, and how service area has declined, how population has grown about 9%, and the budget has grown about 170%, so that is not sustainable as we go forward to other points. Mr. Cooke’s Handout to the Fire Commission members is attached below.

The Future of the Fire Service in the Fire Tax District

Current Context

Wake County's Fire Tax District provides funding for fire protection in the unincorporated areas of Wake County and in the Town of Wendell through 14 contracts with not-for-profit corporations and 6 contracts with municipal fire departments.

The total Fiscal Year 2012 Budget for the Fire Tax District is S20, 253,000.

While municipal boundaries have expanded, the service area for the Fire Tax District has declined. In the year 2000, there were 615 square miles in the unincorporated areas; in 2010, there were 558 square miles. Several not-for-profit fire department insurance districts have been steadily declining over the years.

Over the same time period, the population of Wake County increased by 43.5%; although the population increase in the unincorporated area was only 9.5% (in the Town of Wendell population Increased 37.%.)

The cost of fire protection, for a number of reasons, is outpacing population growth and does not reflect a decline in service area. In the fiscal year 2000, the Fire Tax District budget was $7,485,421. The cost of fire protection has increased 170% since 2000.

During the same time period municipal departments have constructed new stations 1n Wake County as they have expanded municipal boundaries and municipal fire departments are often the first responding stations to many of the areas served by not-for-profitt departments.

Recent and Forthcoming Changes

  • The County expects that falls and Wake forest will merge and the district will be divided between Bayleaf, Stony Hill and Wake forest.
  • Bayleaf Station #3 will be owned by the County for an EMS Station; Wake County will lease to Bayleaf··for a yet-to-be-determined period of time--space for volunteers to assemble and to house some apparatus.
  • Members of The Eastern Wake Fire Board will be appointed by the Board of Commissioners.

Expectations and Assumptions

  1. The assessed value growth in the Fire Tax district is expected to be flat to very little growth over the next several years.
  2. Staffing costs for firefighters will continue to put upward pressure on the fire department budgets.
  3. The County believes that savings will be achieved through the consolidation of not-for-profit fire departments.
  4. The County believes that financial accountability will be enhanced through the consolidation of not-for-profit fire departments.
  5. There are areas or the County that are never intended to be included In municipal boundaries (Falls lake watershed, Swift Creek watershed, little River watershed, Jordan lake watershed, Research Triangle Park). These areas will be served by not-for-profit fire departments or municipal fire departments.

Conclusions and Next Steps

  1. The County Manager will not recommend an increase in the Fire Tax District tax rate until the Consolidation of fire departments occurs.
  2. Identify the areas of the County for consolidations (Falls. Lake, Swift Creek, Little River/Eastern Wake County)
  3. Northern Area: Generally the land west of falls of Neuse Road, north of 540, and east of Wake/Durham county line comprises the Wake County portion of Falls Lake watershed. In time, this area should be served by one fire department.
  4. Swift Creek Area.
  5. Little River Area/Eastern Wake County.wcfc-minutes

2012, March 25 - Falls FD merges with Wake Forest FD. - Blog Post - March 22, 2012

2012, May 10 - WCFC:

FUTURE of FIRE SERVICE in the FIRE TAX DISTRICT

Deputy County Manager Joe Durham stated that the Commission members had a copy of the power point presentation that he provided to the Wake County Board of County Commissioners at their Work Session on Monday, January 14th. Mr. Durham stated that they would hear him say again that we have a current financial model that is not sustainable. He stated that he would not go over the presentation in great detail he just wanted to reiterate that we have a shrinking service area with continued increase in cost over the past eleven years of 170%.

Mr. Durham stated that as we look at expectations and assumptions going forward the assumptions are that we will continue to have flat growth in revenue with increases in expenditures. Mr. Durham noted that a point he wanted to make here as he did with the Board of County Commissioners is that the growth will be less in the unincorporated areas than it will be in the incorporated areas. Mr. Durham shared again that the Fire Tax District Budget is not sustainable in its current form. The County believes that savings will be achieved through strategies such as consolidations and mergers, realignment of stations, and shared use of resources. He stated that this is a staff strategy that was presented to the Wake County Board of Commissioners and these are things that we plan on pursuing further.

Mr. Durham stated that one of the Commissioners goals is to look for efficiencies in our public safety arena with both Fire and EMS. We will start with there will be no consideration on an increase in Fire Tax District property tax rate until strategies for a sustainable fire service are identified and pursued. Mr. Durham shared that one of the things that we will be doing over the next thirty days is meeting to define some specific steps and strategies that will be used to achieve that goal. We will also look at areas for consolidations such as Falls Lake, Swift Creek, and Little River / Eastern part of the County, and also will begin meeting with the Board of Directors of the not-for-profit fire departments to begin sharing the “Future of Fire Service” with them and our goal is to talk about things that we can do to create sustainability. He stated that we know that this is not going to occur over the next sixty days or the next year or two. This is a long term strategy and there are challenges that are in front of us. He stated that he would be glad to respond to any questions or concerns.

Chair Jones stated that he understands what we are doing, he understands that we are trying to provide a better service with less money because that is probably what we are going to have. He stated that it’s going to be a long term, long range plan and it’s going to take a lot of time and we need to try to get everybody to buy in on what the plan is going to be, and a lot of the planning can be done administratively or at the Wake County staff level but also there should be an equal component of the plan from the users. Mr. Durham replied that this can’t be County staff driving this directing / commanding, but we will initiate those conversations and discussion that have to occur.

Vice Chair Myrick stated that typically consolidations happen with not-for-profits and towns and he wanted to know what would happen in the areas where there were no towns. Mr. Durham stated that those were opportunities as well. It would mean working with the not-for-profits in certain areas looking for consolidations and mergers there, but also looking for opportunities between the not-for-profits and municipal fire departments. Vice Chair Myrick asked if the goal was mainly to merge with the towns. Mr. Durham replied that it’s about doing all that we can do to look at mergers and consolidations and we are not just targeting the towns or not-for-profits, it’s doing all that we can do and we will bring back those opportunities that we have identified. It’s going to require a lot of conversations and discussions in order to make this happen.

Vice Chair Myrick stated that with consolidations and mergers there should be equal or better service at a cheaper price not the same service at the same price. Mr. Durham replied that we have to create those savings that will be realized both short term and long term. Mr. Durham stated that we are not doing this just for the sake of mergers, as we are doing this we will need to identify cost savings, if not then why are we doing this.

Chief A.C Rich asked Commissioner Matthews what is Wake Counties’ vision, what do you want the fire service to look like in Wake County. Chief Rich stated that he thinks this is very important because we speak in generalized terms of the “Future of ” being revenue driven. He stated that one of the pieces that is important especially for our elected officials is to determine what they want because that is where it lies, and in order to have real good understanding of the way we want to look which he sees as a fundamental issue but yet a complicated methodology, but the way we want to look; the way we want to be. Do we want to be predominantly volunteer, do we want to be predominantly paid. Chief Rich stated that he sees Mr. Cooke’s presentation as an idea (Mr. Durham stated that the presentation was his) a shared idea, but before we have goals and objectives he thinks we need to have a clear vision and personally he sees this as a very sensitive process and to whatever degree the Fire Commission has influence on it he thinks it is important to have collective representation because for example in the budget process last year the chief officers put together what could be considered a sustainable model through 2017 understandably collective work could be done.

Chief Rich also stated that through the Fire Chiefs Association there is a lot of feedback and input on what that vision would really be defined as, and it may be that what we determine is not consolidation, it may be incorrect for us to say that consolidation is the answer, and we may find out that there are other ways to do business better perhaps, and he thinks that if we call it a Blue Ribbon Committee, certainly for the Board of Commissioners you have such a tremendous asset the representation of these folks in this room, singular/dual people the backbone of their organizations are volunteers, folks that give of their time and he thinks that is something that we have to consistently recognize. Chief Rich stated that the would like to encourage Mr. Durham, Mr. Matthews, the Fire Commission, and all his fellow Chief’s out there that we can do it and we can do it together.

Commissioner Matthews stated that we do have a great deal of talent in this room, all the Chief’s wouldn’t be where you are at if you weren’t good at what you did and he respects all of you and at the same time we do all need to work collectively, because whatever the decision that comes out we all have to live with it. The main thing is that we have the best personnel, the equipment we need to get the job done, and we most certainly have seen a transition from volunteerism versus the full-time due to first responders and the training that went along with that. Every department has its own issues, but what we have to do is bring all those issues together and sit down at the table and talk about them and what might necessarily work in Wake Forest might not work down in the Duncan area or some other area, so everything is brought to the table and we factor it all in and it won’t be an overnight project, if it is an overnight project it won’t be a good project somebody is going to get left out and he thinks that is very important that we come together collectively.

Lee Price stated that some of the concerns of the Fire Chiefs and departments is that they want to be involved in the process and work with staff on this, and when you receive the information like this, that this is going to the County Commissioners the “Future of the Fire Service” and the Chiefs and department’s knew nothing about it, that hurts that trust level and makes them wonder what’s going on here. Staff has come up with this plan “Future of the Fire Service” and no one else knows about this, not the Fire Commission, not the Chiefs, or anybody and that trust level goes out the window because everyone is thinking well they got a plan and we don’t know about it so what are they trying to do to us. Mr. Price stated that he thinks the key is to involve everybody in this group and we can come up with some good plans and something that is cohesive that will work. Mr. Durham stated that he appreciated those comments, but wanted to say that there was nothing new from what you see in front of you, he has said it, David Cooke has said it, he has said it more than once and there is nothing new. Mr. Durham stated that there are more details but all these things have previously been shared and at the end of the day it’s all about creating those cost efficiencies.wcfc-minutes

2013

2013, June 20 - Eastern Wake News reports on a merger considerations with Knightdale FD  Eastern Wake FD. Blog post from June 21:

That's the headline of yesterday's story from the Eastern Wake News. The opening paragraphs summarize the situation well: "Eastern Wake Fire and Rescue is an independent fire [department] that serves 17,292 people between Raleigh, Knightdale, Wendell and Garner. [They're] funded by Wake County tax dollars. But, because [the county] says its current fire service structure is unsustainable, the county manager’s office has asked Wake towns to consider merging with independent stations nearby."

The town of Knightdale is open to the idea of a merger. In April, they began a study of the financial benefits of a merger. Based on the results of that study, the town recently submitted a merger proposal to Eastern Wake. There are some kinks to be worked out, as the article notes. The proposal, called a "preliminary draft document" by the Deputy County Manager who is coordinating the merger, would reduce the number of Eastern Wake personnel from 27 to 24 employees, shrink their service area some, and change their Hester Street fire station to an all-volunteer facility. These are points to be further discussed by both parties, notes the story.

Currently, it costs KFD and EWFD a combined $2.69 million to provide service to both areas. That amount is reduced to $2.56 million under the town's current proposal. There's also an estimated $2 million of savings for the town, as it negates the need for a future fire station on Hodge Road. 

The proposal is rejected and the merger project is subsequently shelved by the town.mjl-blog, oh

2013, committee(s) created to discuss if consolidation could/would/should among county-funded fire departments. Consultant(s) are utilized. One project examines feasibility of pursuing consolidation of Bay Leaf, Durham Highway, and Stony Hill fire departments.oh

2014

2014, January 16 - WCFC:

Director Wright shared with the Fire Commission that Executive Service Corps concluded its contract with the County for providing facilitative services to the Consolidation Committees of Bay Leaf, Stony Hill, and Durham Highway Fire Departments. He stated that his office would be looking to engage another facilitator that is more familiar with fire department operations so they can continue the process/discussion.wcfc-minutes

2017

2017, July 1 - Northern Wake FD begins operation, as a consolidation of Bay Leaf FD and Stony Hill FD.

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