March 8, 2005
The Scottsdale Fire Department is talking with the Phoenix Fire Department and Rural/Metro Corp. to ensure access to firefighting equipment and a radio communications system.
The moves are not in response to purchasing problems or delays in building Scottsdale’s own radio system, Fire Chief William McDonald said. They are precautionary measures.
"We are just trying to look at all the areas we might be exposed and are trying to shore them up," McDonald said.
Scottsdale’s proposed agreement with Phoenix would allow Scottsdale’s new firefighting operation to purchase Phoenix’s backup equipment, McDonald said.
Since Rural/Metro Corp. decided to keep all of the equipment it uses for its operations in other Valley cities, Scottsdale has gone on a buying spree.
The city fire department is scheduled to take over Scottsdale’s fire protection July 1. Rural/Metro has provided fire protection for the city since the company’s creation more than 50 years ago. The private firefighting firm decided in November 2003 to discontinue its service in Scottsdale this year.
McDonald said that while he anticipates all of the equipment — ranging from protective clothing to breathing apparatus — to arrive on time, there is no guarantee.
Under the proposed agreement, if an item does not come in, Scottsdale will be able to contact Phoenix officials, ask if they have the needed equipment and, if they do, purchase it without any delay.
"This is just sort of a safety valve," said Kevin Roche, resource management administrator for the Phoenix Fire Department. "It doesn’t obligate us to have stuff on the shelves; it doesn’t require us to buy stuff for Scottsdale."
Phoenix does not have a similar arrangement with any other department, Roche said, but has begun building ties with Scottsdale. The Valley’s newest fire department has joined with Phoenix’s mutualaid system and asked Phoenix’s purchasing officials for help in choosing protective clothing.
McDonald said Scottsdale is also in discussions with Rural/Metro to continue using the company’s communications system on a month-tomonth basis if the city does not finish constructing its own on time.
Again, McDonald said everything is on schedule.
The Scottsdale Fire Department is building its own network of radio transmitters around the city that will be networked into Phoenix’s communications system. To date, there have been construction delays at only one location, a fire station near the intersection of Pima and Jomax roads, said Joe Hindman, Scottsdale Police Department technology director.
Neighbors asked that work be halted there until May so as to not disrupt the nesting cycle of owls living there. The fire department obliged.
"They’re cute little things, so I can understand why (the neighbors) would want that," Hindman said.
The department has hired nearly 200 former Rural/ Metro firefighters. Their training begins the first week of April and will focus on fire tactics and strategy, said Garrett Olson, Scottsdale deputy chief in charge of training.
Following that, new fire department employees will be taught how to work within the regional dispatch system that will place a computer in each fire engine, Olson said.