fire study to begin
By Jeff Gallatin
Published July 15, 2009
from the West Shore Council of Governments have turned up the heat
by selecting a consulting firm to do a study on having a regional
Officials tapped Emergency Services Consulting International
Inc., of Wilsonville, Ore., to do the study from among four bids.
The firm’s bid was $137,492 with COG officials hoping to pay for
a large portion of it by obtaining a $100,000 grant from the EfficientGovNow
which is giving $300,000 to three different projects designed to
help 16 Northeast Ohio counties increase government efficiency,
save money and strengthen the economy. The COG proposal is the only
Cuyahoga County project from among the nine finalists for the three
Bay Village Mayor Debbie Sutherland, chairwoman of
the COG board this year, said the ESC proposal was deemed the best
match for study needs.
“It’s a balanced proposal and will give us the best
blend of information and work in the communities involved,” she
In addition to Bay Village, the other members of the
West Shore Central Dispatch group, Fairview Park, North Ridgeville,
Rocky River and Westlake are part of the study group. Lakewood and
North Olmsted also are part of the study proposal.
“We’ve got a strong and balanced group of applicants
and we wanted an experienced organization to handle it,” she said.
“They’ve promised to evaluate all the data and give us a recommendation
as to whether to proceed. If they deem a district as an option,
they’ll tell us.”
Sutherland said the study could determine different
“They might tell us that it’s good to have all of
us involved or maybe some but not all of the cities involved in
the study,” she said. “It’s good to have objective data.”
Phil Kouwe, project manager for the COG study and
senior vice president at ESC, said they will approach it in a business
“We look at in the sense of whether it would make
sense to do,” he said.
He said all the team members participating in the
study have some experience or expertise with fire and emergency
services as well other aspects of municipal government.
“We have a lot of people who have been in the fire
service but we also have people who have worked on municipal finances
as well as other aspects of city government so we should be able
to examine everything pretty closely and give a good view of what
this would take,” he said.
He said the fact that the West Shore governments have
teamed up on other projects in both the governmental and safety
aspects of fire and emergency services will aid the study.
“We look at each city individually but it also helps
to see how they have worked together,” he said.
Kouwe said time on studies varies, but said they can
take up to about five months to do.
Other area municipal officials liked the selection.
“Doing a regional fire district is a natural next
step from the central dispatch organization,” said Westlake Mayor
Dennis Clough. “We already have a strong base with that as well
as with our working together on many emergency and mutual aid calls
for many years.”
North Olmsted Mayor Thomas O’Grady sees it as a good
way to deal with financial issues.
“Creation of a West Shore Fire District
has immense potential to reduce costs, increase services
and improve training without disruption of response times.”
North Olmsted Fire Chief Tom Klecan said the study
will be a major benefit.
“We had four very strong applications,” he said. “This
will help by examining many different aspects of the fire and emergency
Sutherland said the scope of the project should be
“What is good about the proposal is that they will
be talking to everybody, the governments, the people in fire and
emergency services and the communities. We should get the best look
possible from this on how to proceed.