Rocklin and Lincoln city officials are looking to team up to fill gaps in fire department management and administration that they say neither city can afford to fill on its own.
“Within Rocklin, we have a lack of midlevel management,” said Kurt Snyder, interim Rocklin fire chief.
In Lincoln, the Fire Department lacks command leadership at night and on weekends, said Jill Thompson, Lincoln spokeswoman.
The proposed agreement, scheduled to go before the the city councils in both cities Tuesday night, calls for the departments to share management and administrative personnel while maintaining separate fire departments. The plan makes sense, Snyder said, noting that the two cities are aligned geographically, already share a computer-aided dispatch system and have automatic aid agreements as well as a long history of working together.
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Each city has three fire stations. The Rocklin Fire Department responded to 4,747 incidents in 2015, and the Lincoln department responded to 4,237 incidents, Snyder said, and each jurisdiction covers approximately 20 square miles.
The agreement would establish a joint administration overseeing general operations, personnel management, training and fire prevention services for both cities. Rocklin would provide the fire chief, three shift battalion chiefs and a fire prevention officer. Lincoln would provide two division chiefs as midlevel management. The fire chief would report to the Rocklin and Lincoln city managers.
At least one Rocklin resident has raised concerns about the proposal, citing disparities between the two cities.
Rocklin has a record of fiscal stability, while Lincoln has struggled financially in the face of rapid growth, said Bill McEnroe. He has lived in Rocklin since 1989 and observed how each city has worked to provide services for the influx of new residents. He cites among his concerns differences in fire department staffing: three-person engine companies in Rocklin vs. two-person engine companies in Lincoln.
Rocklin has a population of about 62,000 and Lincoln, about 47,000, but at buildout, Lincoln anticipates a population of about 200,000, more than twice the eventual population projected for Rocklin, McEnroe said. He also sees potential problems for the fire chief in trying to serve two city managers.
“I’m looking at the long term,” McEnroe said. Over time, he fears, Lincoln would draw the lion’s share of services, at Rocklin’s expense.
Snyder said he appreciated the concerns. The proposed agreement would be for one year, beginning July 1, and is designed to be somewhat flexible, he said. If extended, it would be reviewed annually, so each city’s share of costs could be adjusted to reflect its service needs.
“There are many exit ramps out of the agreement,” Snyder said.
Either party could terminate the agreement by giving at least 180 days written notice. Should either party default on any provision or condition of the agreement, the other party could terminate the agreement if the defaulting party failed to comply within 30 days of receiving written notice.
We have what they need, and they have what I need.
Kurt Snyder, interim fire chief, Rocklin Fire Department
Each department currently is overseen by an interim fire chief. Lincoln has been without a permanent fire chief since 2011, Thompson said. Some years before hiring a fire chief, the police chief served as administrator of the police and fire departments.
Lincoln’s options, Thompson said, are to hire a fire chief and battalion chief, for a total cost of about $445,000, or to pursue the shared services agreement with Rocklin, which would result in about half the cost.
Snyder has served as Rocklin’s interim chief since September, when the city’s previous fire chief retired. It is anticipated that he would become the fire chief for both Lincoln and Rocklin, if the agreement were approved, and Lincoln’s interim chief, Mike Davis, would be one of the two division chiefs.
Each city would cover half the cost of each of the shared positions except the fire prevention officer. Rocklin would bear 70 percent of the cost of that position, Snyder said, because a Lincoln battalion chief provides some fire prevention services in the Lincoln department.
Rocklin would realize net revenue of $233,409 under the shared service agreement, he said.
The two departments established a task force in June 2015 to explore ways to collaborate. The task force eventually included fire department staff members, fire union representatives, the Rocklin and Lincoln city managers, two members from each city council and a citizen at large.
From an administrative perspective, Snyder said, the shared positions offer an economical and efficient way to fill each department’s needs.
“We have what they need, and they have what I need,” he said.
Thompson agreed: “I say we both win.”
Tuesday night’s council meetings begin at 6 p.m. in each city. The Lincoln City Council will meet at City Hall, 600 Sixth St., Lincoln. The Rocklin City Council will meet in the Council Chambers at 3970 Rocklin Road, Rocklin.