ST. PAUL — Eight Minnesota fire departments will study ways to make their organizations more efficient, including the possibility of sharing services with neighboring agencies, thanks to a grant from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal Division (SFMD).
The SFMD awarded $200,000 to officials in Stevens County, Ramsey, Hibbing, Columbia Heights, Hamel, Chisago City, Bemidji and the Pike-Sandy-Brit area to study how shared services could benefit their communities.
“The resources of many local fire departments are stretched thin and these grants will research ways to reduce those problems,” said State Fire Marshal Jerry Rosendahl. “Instead of responding, training, and purchasing equipment independently, these departments could be banding together and pooling resources to provide even better service for Minnesotans.”
Grants ranged from approximately $10,000 to $40,000. Rosendahl said most agencies will use the money to analyze cost-saving methods, unidentified efficiencies and ways to reduce redundancies.
Three of the agencies – Stevens County, Bemidji and Hamel – received SFMD shared services funding in 2010 during the grant’s first phase. The most recent dollars will likely be used to implement findings from their initial studies and do follow-up work.
The SFMD received 13 shared services grant applications requesting nearly $400,000.
“We’re priming the pump just a little bit to see if it makes sense for them to move forward or not on some of these ideas,” said SFMD Fire Service Specialist Bruce Roed. “Now these communities are talking to each other and trying to figure out ways to do their jobs better.”
Money for the grants came from the Fire Safety Account. Grants were awarded as follows:
• Stevens County – $18,864 ($18,894 in 2010)
• Hamel – $26,921 ($32,670 in 2010)
• Bemidji – $10,721 ($22,000 in 2010)
• Ramsey – $29,494
• Hibbing – $40,000
• Columbia Heights – $28,000
• Pike-Sandy-Britt – $20,000
• Chisago City – $26,000
About the Minnesota Department Public Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.
About the State Fire Marshal Division
The mission of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal Division is to protect lives and property by fostering a fire-safe environment through fire/arson investigation, code development and enforcement, regulation, data collection and public education. Data collected by the State Fire Marshal Division from fire departments statewide is analyzed and used to determine the best methods of public education and enforcement to improve fire safety in our state.