“We’re feeling good about it,” said Riverdale Fire Chief Jared Sholly.
Per the arrangement, spelled out in an interlocal agreement between the two adjoining cities, each fire department would remain intact. But they would cooperate in a range of ways in providing fire protection and ambulance services, aiming to improve response times and service.
The city councils in each city approved the interlocal agreement in June and the change went into effect on Thursday. Reps from the cities had been discussing the issue for around two years, according to Sholly, in part trying to find ways the small cities can better use their limited resources.
One of the most noticeable changes may be quicker ambulance response times to the East Bench area of Riverdale, Sholly said. South Ogden responders are closer than their Riverdale counterparts and, per the agreement, will now service the area.
The change also allows for sharing of staff, better utilizing the limited manpower of the two departments. What’s more, a new battalion chief in South Ogden will oversee continuing training of firefighters in the two departments while the cooperative effort could help reduce costs by allowing joint purchases of supplies both departments need.
After a year, officials in the two cities will evaluate the arrangement, determine if the initiative continues. Sholly, though, is “very confident” it will pass muster and thinks there are additional ways the two fire departments can increase cooperation.
Officials from South Ogden, Riverdale and Washington Terrace had discussed the possibility of creating a new fire district serving the three cities. Washington Terrace backed out, worried in part about cost, and South Ogden and Riverdale officials opted to go with an interlocal agreement instead.
A new fire district would have been a new taxing entity with independent taxing authority.
In related news, a new pumpulance has been added to the fleet of vehicles in the South Ogden Fire Department. The vehicle is designed to be able to respond both to fires and medical emergencies.