The Centennial Fire District, which serves Circle Pines and Centerville, would remain its own entity under the contract that’s being negotiated. But SBM Fire would take over management operations and enhance daytime response service with a cost savings.
“One of the advantages of contracting with SBM for these management services is that we would have a larger organization to rely upon,” said Centerville City Administrator Mark Statz. “They have broader shoulder over there to provide us with the resources we need as the fire service changes. So that’s one of the reasons we’re thinking this will be a good partnership that will last for years to come.”
Statz also points to additional training opportunities that would be open to Centennial firefighters. Also a daytime duty crew that was already in the works, will make for quicker response times.
“That’s going to be helpful in just that we’re enhancing our daytime response with this contract. And that was something we probably were going to do whether we contracted with SBM or not, just because of the way the fire service is going regionally,” said Statz. “Everyone is struggling to find volunteer daytime responders, so we likely were going in that direction to have a full time duty crew in the daytime one way or another.”
While firefighting costs have gone up, Centerville Mayor D. Love says this move is not just about saving money. But he says there is power in numbers.
“It gives us an opportunity to look at the future as a more regional fire department, fire safety for our community. I know that’s something the state is looking at on a statewide level,” said Love. “It may allow us to get ahead of that and be an example for other communities to get together and really form a larger fire department.”
Love says the committee is impressed by SBM Chief Charlie Smith, who would be overseeing their department, while maintaining the Centennial Fire name and local control.
“So we worry about the people aspect. We want to make our fire department and our firefighters feel a part of a community and feel a part of an organization that they can remain prideful in,” said Love.
Even with the partnership, Statz says the need for more of those daytime volunteers continues.
“The more community involvement we get, the lower our costs can be for this contract,” said Statz. “This contract is flexible and if we were to get a daytime response, enough people, we could sort of cancel out that full time daytime response and save a ton of money.”
Circle Pines and Centerville City Councils would have to approve a final contract. The target launch date for the partnership is August 1st.