01/18/13 986 W - + 6 - 2 UPDATED: Future of Fire Service in the Fire Tax District

January 18
Documents folder updated with presentation slides that were shown both at the fire commission meeting (see agenda and more), and earlier at the Board of Commissioners work session on Monday. The slides present a background of the financial issues, summaries of the fire tax district finances, expectations and assumptions for the future, and conclusions and next steps. Some of the things noted in the slides:

Read this information in the slides (PDF).

January 17
For those attending tonight's meeting of the Wake County Fire Commission the regular agenda includes the item "Future of Fire Service in the Fire Tax District." Will await the minutes, as Mr. Blogger will be downtown at a fire department promotional ceremony. By way of historical context, the County Manager spoke on this matter to the Fire Commission in October. Here's a summary of his comments (PDF).

For tonight's meeting, here's the agenda item's description in the supporting document:

Item Title:
Future of Fire Service in the Fire Tax District
Specific Action Requested:

That the Fire Commission receives information related to the Future of Fire Service in the Fire Tax District.
Item Summary:
Wake County staff has been tasked with evaluating fire service in the Fire Tax District in an effort to develop strategies and recommendations to ensure the sustainability of fire service in the Fire Tax District.

On Monday, this subject was presented before the Wake County Board of Commissioners. Their meeting agenda provides this summary:

Future of Fire Service in the Fire Tax District - Joe Durham, Deputy County Manager; and Demetric Potts, Fire and Emergency Services Business Officer
Item Summary:
The purpose of this presentation is to provide information about Fire Service Delivery in the Wake County Fire Tax District. The Fire Tax District Budget is not sustainable in its current form and the County believes that savings will be achieved through strategies such as consolidations and mergers, realignment of stations, and shared use of resources. The presentation will provide background information the Fire Tax District, historical and current financial information as well as expectations and assumptions.

The Board of Commissioners will receive the presentation and provide feedback. 

Fire Commission?

What is the Wake County Fire Commission? Here's a good overview in the form of a Q&A we did on the blog. Here's the commission's official site.

Fire Tax District?

For the laymen or new readers, what is the Fire Tax District? It represents all unincorporated areas of Wake County, e.g. those areas outside of municipal town or city limits. Plus the town of Wendell. Their fire protection is administered by Wake County, through fourteen contracts with not-for-profit corporations (private fire departments, like Bay Leaf FD and Hopkins FD and Wendell FD), and six contracts with municipal fire departments (Apex FD, Cary FD, Fuquay-Varina FD, etc.). And said fire protection is funded by taxing the residents (and business owners, right?) in those areas.

What's the History?

But what about mergers and consolidations? Haven't those been tried before, discussed before, proposed before, etc? Correct. Some of what's happened before...

Mergers and closures:

Statements and studies:


In my opinion, the initiative is currently an “idea” and not a “vision” as many details regarding the method have not been determined. There are many steps from the “here and now” to the (currently) unclear vision. Wake MUST determine what they wish the service to “look like.” This process is much more detailed than a simple “consolidation fixes all” perspective. It is my hope joint efforts between the WC chiefs and WC county staff will achieve a desirable outcome. Change is inevitable though.
A.C. Rich - 01/18/13 - 08:51

Falls and Wake Forest would be a private merger. Wake Forest Fire Department is independent from the town. They are contracted by the town to provide their services.
FF - 01/18/13 - 20:30

Isn’t Wake Forest FD a hybrid? Neither strictly private nor entirely municipal?

Yes, you are correct though, WFFD isn’t a town department in the conventional sense.
Legeros - 01/18/13 - 20:40

Speaking of Wake Forest….i would bet over half that town population doesnt know that.
They got WFFD on city property in a city/tax payer building using who’s money for the trucks and equipment?
So, if the Poilce and public works and parks and rec is part of the town then I wonder why the Fire Department is not.

So what is the conventional sense?
Is it that the people in the FALLS FD district that have a Raleigh address but is served by Wake Forest FD #5 even though they dont live in WF?
Buckwheat - 01/24/13 - 14:10

It was always my understanding that after the merger of WF Town & WF Rural in the 80’s that WFFD was a private fire department that contracted with the town for fire services within the town limits. Similarly, they contracted with Wake County to provide fire service to the unincorporated areas of Wake County within the designated Wakette Fire District. Essentially my take is they are a private contractor to the town with their own private BOD. No different in my opinion than if a town contracted with an outside party for say trash collection with the exception that WFFD has a representative from the town (a liaison) on their BOD since the bulk of the department’s funding comes from the town. All the assets (rigs, buildings, land, etc;) are owned by WFFD, Inc; not the town.
Outsider - 01/24/13 - 15:53

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