Saturday, July 2, 2011

Should Deerfield Beach Fire\Rescue Department go to BSO?

Below are residents’ answers to the questions:

What do you think the pros and cons are of the Deerfield Beach Fire\Rescue Department moving to the Broward County Sheriff (BSO)? Are you in favor of the move or not? (As more answers come in they will be posted)

 • I believe it will be the same employees so that is ok, no one looses their job. AND if it gets rid of the Fire Assessment, that it is a GOOD thing!! D.A.

• YES, it is a great move! It will save Deerfield Beach a lot of money both now and, what's even more important, in the future too. Let’s do it. Thanks for asking. J.H.

• I am very concerned about turning over more than 50% of our budget to BSO. While there are claims of savings for the first few years, these may be eclipsed in the near future by increases in BSO costs we will have virtually no control over. As we know, once you turn your fire or police over to BSO, it is extremely expensive to bring them back as city employees. The only way I would consider doing this is with a 10 year contract that would specify the number of officers we would have per thousand residents and hold the annual increases in our cost to a certain percentage. If my memory serves me right, the police BSO contract we had did have a maximum % increase that was allowed. I think the contract term was three or five years. My concern is also that BSO is under control of the county. If they tell BSO you have to cut the budget as they did last year, we have virtually no say in how BSO determines where to make the cuts. I think we need figure out how to reduce the cost of our fire department and keep them as city employees. The vast majority of our fire fighters do not live in Deerfield. So from their perspective, they probably want to go wherever the pay, working conditions, pension and advancement opportunities are the best. As for getting additional use of high tech equipment if we go to BSO, I believe we can use this now, if we really need it. I cannot really think of any good reason to do this unless we actually save a lot of money over an extended period of time. P.M.

• I have changed my mind several times on this subject. The only thing I feel strongly about is that it should not be "voted on" by the public. We have elected officials for a reason. The big "con" is the lack of home rule and the fact that DB would have all of its "eggs" in the BSO basket. In the middle, is the thing that you always hear me talking about; what are the hard numbers? The savings need to be greater than just turning our equipment into cash. Having spent some time looking into what is happening is other parts of the country I feel that taking an early step towards regionalization is the only thing that makes sense. That is therefore the big "pro". At the end of the day I come down on the side of reducing our budget and going with BSO AS LONG AS THERE ARE SOME VERY SERIOUS SAVINGS. S. P.

• I previously voted to not move forward with the consolidation. My confidence in our City government has diminished to the point that I trust the County more than our elected officials. H.A.

• I support the move to BSO and believe that the die was cast years ago when the commission passed generous pension increases the city can't afford to pay. D.G.

• Sheriff Lamberti was not fair to the FireFighters that are currently employed with BSO. Ask their Union President. K

• In favor S. J.

• I still haven't decided. I still think we are still over staffed. J.Z.

• I am not really in favor of it…And I am concerned about what the Sheriff’s department may try to do and actually do to our parking lot behind the fire station. I doubt they will leave it as is. I highly suspect that they will make changes that diminish our use of our publically owned land. The Broward County Sheriff’s Department has grown so large! We would be just another notch on their gigantic corporate-like bed post. They will almost certainly call for renovations to our existing facility. Who’s going to pay for that? Not the Broward County Sheriff’s Dept. I’m sure. In this initial; round of negotiations, has this been discussed? M.B.

• It depends on the service lose/gain and our cost$$$ up/down. C.M.

• I know at least two firemen and their families who are for the move. I have been told that it will save the city money and they have contracted for the same level of service. That will be proven correct or not as time goes on. I guess that means I am for it.
(However, I am currently working on trying to stop a Detox facility from being located adjacent to the Cove neighborhood. We are looking for support and ideas for the July 7th planning meeting. The neighborhood had a meeting last week at the Old School house which was well attended. Way more people than chairs. Even our Mayor and District 1 Councilman were present, both very last minute additions. Joe Miller says he has proposed banning FUTURE operations from being located in residential areas and has said privately that he did not understand what he was voting for last year when the council amended the zoning to allow this (Unanimous approval, no discussion in minutes). Frankly, I think if it isn’t a good idea for the future, then it isn’t a good idea now either. The proposed location is the building that used to house “Reel Smokers World” on Federal. This property butts up to family residences with no security proposed. I would really like to give you more info, get ideas that your readers would like to share and get the word out to as many people as possible to attend the Zoning and Planning meeting July 7th. Which was moved yesterday to the Old School house. I guess we will have to bring our own chairs. http://www.facebook.com/pages/No-Detox-Facility-in-Our-Neighborhood/227225527305046 ) M. S.
• Don't know enough about it to have an opinion. E. M.

• The City could do a better job and and create a greater cost-savings than a BSO merger ever could. D.C.

• I think turning over more than 50 percent of the City’s Budget is a problem. I also think that this issue should go to referendum so that the Voters will have a say. The Mayor was told by the city attorney that she could vote on the BSO Merger, but I don’t understand why, when there is definitely a conflict of interest on her part. Commissioner Popelsky said that he believes in home rule, but wants to see the figures in the contract before he makes a decision. I think Commissioner Popelsky is correct about seeing the figures and hopefully the contract proposal will be open to the public, so both the commissions and the Public are more enlightened about this possible Merger. M. H.

• PLEASE talk to the Fire Fighters UNION chiefs they have a huge story to tell! Then ask the Fire Fighters that work for the City (all of them) and get their input!  K.

• Great move, this should save the ccity a little more money.  E.J.


7 comments:

  1. I am for the potential merger. The city manager has stated a significant savings while keeping or enhancing city services. We need this and the utility tax to decrease property taxes....

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  2. Be careful if you are thinking of the great deal if you use BSO.
    It might be less for the initial start but lookout here is why.

    1- You will still be subject to Fire Assessment Fee.
    2- The County Auditor has stated in writing that the fees that BSO is charging are way below what the actual costs are to deliver that service. The service charge will rise substantially.
    3- EGO the rate or annual fee will go up and returning to a self owned (self managed, it is your own dept.) can be very costly. Check with Lake Worth as they are currently seeking to return the service to ownership by Lake Worth.
    Possible solution.
    Look at what they (Fire Dept actually do.)
    Mostly Emergency Medical Service, EMS. Very small amount of actual putting out fires. A lot of accident calls in the middle of the major roadways.
    One might want to consider a privately run ambulance/EMS service.
    Also, Different approach for handling road accidents.
    And a more regionalized Fire protection/suppression service.

    If you are concerned about costs you need to take an ’out of the box’ look at what you need and how to get it.

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  3. The issue with BSO Fire Rescue is that they have historically bid extremely low on their first contract with a municipality, operating at a large deficit. Upon contract renewal, they will then bid much higher amounts, which the municipality is then forced to pay as they no longer have their own fire department.

    Look at the Lauderdale-By-The-Sea fiasco, where the town was forced to reinstate their volunteer fire department at significant cost. It is also important to look at the City of Dania Beach. Upon BSO assuming fire rescue services, their first course of action was to close a fire station.

    It is important to also look at the way BSO Fire-Rescue operates, when they need additional resources in a contracted municipality such as in the case or a large-scale incident, or when multiple emergencies overwhelm available resources, BSO will always call for other BSO resources regardless of the distance that they're coming from as opposed to requesting mutual aid from surrounding departments. Currently, the nearest BSO units to Deerfield Beach are in Lauderdale Lakes with response time likely being over 15 minutes. This occurred in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, with resources being sent from as far away as Weston when the neighboring fire departments from Pompano Beach and Ft. Lauderdale were available and never called.

    If Deerfield Beach is looking to consolidate, they would be far better off looking into a merger with Pompano Beach as opposed BSO. You will not find a city that has contracted out to BSO and hasn't regretted it.

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  4. BSO did not close a fire station in Dania Beach. DBFD and BSO had fire stations that were literally less than 1 mile away from each other. They consolidated these stations into one location and turned the other into a much needed west side police sub station saving the city millions. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for BSO to call mutual aid. Just the other day Sunrise, Lauderhill and Fort Lauderdale all had units and a BSO fire in Lauderdale Lakes. Get your facts straight.

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  5. Great move. The city is in financial ruin. That's why they are threatening layoffs and pay cuts. Maybe they should have saved money from years ago for the rainy days of today. Send them to bso and save millions

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  6. Wrong about the cost to Lauderdale By The Sea. Bringing back the VFD saves the city over 2 million a year and I heard they recently got a better ISO rating then with BSO.
    Deerfield is doing it right in keeping all the assets, if it dosnt work out, not much to bring back their own departmetn. The best part was getting red of the defined benefit plan which is a rip off for the residents.

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  7. There are way too many firefighters in DFB. They seriously need to downsize through attrition so there is not layoffs.

    How about we have a solid force, and set up a volunteer group to assist.

    I am a DFB tax payer.

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