Community View | NACFD board chairman praises management services agreement with Kingman
It’s been over one year since the Northern Arizona Consolidated Fire District #1 has entered into the management services agreement with the City of Kingman. As the Board Chairman for NACFD #1, I felt it necessary to provide the citizens an update on this agreement and the impact on the level of services to all areas of the district that encompasses the area just north of the City of Kingman, as well as the areas of Valley Vista, Hackberry, Valentine, Truxton, North Stockton Hill Road and Chloride.
NACFD #1 approached the Kingman Fire Department about the possibility of assisting the fire district with administrative and operational oversight through a management services agreement. This approach was taken following the second of two separate unsuccessful searches for a full-time NACFD fire chief. After several months of research, an intergovernmental agreement was developed that was modeled after a similar agreement between the City of Flagstaff and the Summit Fire District. This agreement had completed its initial pilot phase and successfully entered into a five-year agreement between the two agencies for the City of Flagstaff to provide management services to the Summit Fire District.
Utilizing this successful model, the NACFD #1 Board of Directors voted unanimously to enter into an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with the City of Kingman for management services for a “pilot” period of two years. Following this approval, the Kingman City Council voted unanimously to enter into the agreement in August 2019.
The IGA provides oversight of both the daily administrative and operational functions of the district utilizing the services of the fire chief, assistant fire chief of operations, a second assistant fire chief of fire prevention and support services, battalion chief of emergency medical services, battalion chief of training, and the three battalion chiefs assigned to operations and emergency response. All eight of these administrative staff members are provided by the City of Kingman as part of the IGA. The IGA provides this service and much more at a cost of less than the cost to the district for one fire chief position and simply provides a much higher level of support and service than provided by one position.
At a recent NACFD board meeting, the one-year analysis was presented for an update of what has occurred in the first year of the IGA with this structure. When people think about a fire department, they think about emergency response and in the last 12 months the total response time to incidents has decreased by nearly two minutes. The IGA has increased the level of response and reduced response times to incidents while increasing the safety of personnel during emergency operations.
The liabilities to NACFD have also been decreased as the services within the IGA have resulted in the implementation of all standard operating procedures, scheduling and payroll system, billing practices, an extensive fleet maintenance program, hydrant testing, and a record maintenance and documentation system to support all department functions and responsibilities.
The training of the department has increased dramatically with the implementation of an annual training plan, officer development, driver and engineer training, and much-needed incident command training. This training has been delivered by a variety of forms but an important aspect is in conjunction with Kingman Fire Department to ensure single and multi-company operations are coordinated. It also helps that crews utilize the Kingman training tower and burn building providing a much-needed increase in training and real-world experience.
NACFD relies heavily on the mutual aid/automatic aid agreements with the City of Kingman and with both department’s personnel being trained together, the on-scene working relationship has never been better. You might ask, “Who benefits from this training together?” The answer is everybody benefits from this. Command staff, firefighters, but most importantly our residents of the City of Kingman, the residents of NACFD, and even residents outside both city and NACFD #1 boundaries and visitors passing through the community. The benefits of the contracted services between both the City of Kingman, and NACFD #1, is remarkable and continues to improve daily.
With all of that said, NACFD #1 board members have been under constant criticism for decision making as well as constant allegations of wrong doing. However, I am happy to report to all of our area citizens, residents of the NACFD, friends and visitors, that all allegations and subsequent investigations have found no wrongdoing on the part of your elected Fire District Board members. Numerous complaints to both county and state officials have revealed no wrongdoing on our behalf.
The focus of these attacks has extended to the City of Kingman and its Fire Chief Jake Rhoades, with no other reason than to undermine the fire district and eliminate the IGA with the city. I would like to remind the residents of the City of Kingman, NACFD #1 and the outlying areas, that the city’s fire department staff, including Jake Rhoades, is not the Fire Chief of NACFD #1. Fire Chief Jake Rhoades is the Fire Chief of the City of Kingman Fire Department executing the IGA and doing so professionally and with more than expected results. The accusations, false claims and attempts to damage Fire Chief Rhoades’ reputation, and undermine what he has accomplished for the City of Kingman, are unfounded, unwarranted and malicious attempts to suit their personal agenda, not the best interest of the district or its citizens.
The Kingman City Council members, City Manager Ron Foggin, administrative staff and members of the Kingman Fire Department deserve a huge “Thank You” for working toward better services provided within the City of Kingman and its surrounding communities. In closing, I would like to remind the residents of the communities served by NACFD #1 that the mission of the Northern Arizona Consolidated Fire District #1 is to serve the communities to the best of our abilities, and the IGA as well as the members of the fire district are doing everything possible to deliver the level of service that is expected and deserved by our community.
Rest assured that this IGA has increased services provided to those who need our help, and I look forward to the improvements that it brings in the future.
(Jim Bailey is the chairman of the Northern Arizona Consolidate Fire District board of directors.)