De Soto City Council to consider agreement to start unification of local fire service
The unification of the two local fire departments could take a step closer to realization Thursday as the De Soto City Council considers a memorandum of understanding outlining the merger process.
The council will also name the city’s two members to the five-member advisory committee that will oversee the transition to the new department. The city and fire district will take turns naming the fifth member to the five-member board with the fire district having that right the first two years
The actions will be further steps toward the dissolution of the De Soto Fire Department and Johnson County Fire District No. 3 and the combination of their assets into a new department called the Northwest Consolidated Fire District.
The goal stated in the document is to create the new department effective Jan. 1, 2010.
Movement toward the unification of the two departments started in 2006 and came after the fire district proposed it be done under a model used in Leavenworth County. The proposal provided a start, but momentum increased in the last year with the introduction of a bill in the Kansas Legislature that addressed city concerns that the new department be a new entity and not the absorption of the city department by the fire district.
Its passage last spring put the city, county and fire district in position to develop the memorandum of understanding of how to proceed with the consolidation and naming a five-member advisory committee charged with overseeing the transition and then become the governing board of the new department. That document is now finished..
Fire district board president Kent Dvorak said the memorandum of understanding would be on the fire board’s agenda later this month. The fire district would recommend the county commission appoint the three-member fire board of himself, Larry Kramer and Jay Lang to the advisory board.
Among the things the board will be asked to do in the coming months is:
• Develop an operations plan for the new department that will address staffing, equipment, infrastructure and anticipated capital improvements.
• Determine a Northwest Consolidated Fire District’s command staff and how the staff will be selected and retained.
• Develop a draft budget for the department’s