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Work Efforts

1. Financial Stability

Respond to financial pressures on the most severely impacted areas of the County. Require that any County financial assistance be tied to agreements that promote long-term improvements in fire services County-wide and are consistent with the principles above.

2. Focus Groups, Community Meetings, and Advisory Committee

Sponsor the convening by staff of focus groups of key stakeholders in the County (cities, fire districts, EMS providers, and County) and other community meetings for structured discussions on fire governance. The purpose will be to explain the County’s interest in achieving the long-term goal of improving fire services, ensure the County and other stakeholders understand current and historical challenges, recognize the need for a collaborative effort, discuss the proposed principles to be followed in the effort, and solicit interest in and concerns about participation, if any, in a County-wide analysis of fire services and particularly on an Advisory Committee developed in conjunction with LAFCO to assist with vetting the data analysis and recommendations as they are drafted. See Stakeholder list below.

3. County-wide Fire Services Municipal Services Review Assistance Proposal and Data Analysis

In conjunction with LAFCO, staff will develop a request for proposal for consultant services to assist with the Countywide Fire Services effort to produce a report to be used as needed as a part of a LAFCO Municipal Services Review in conjunction with any reorganizations that may be recommended as a part of this project.

All fire service agencies will be invited to participate in the effort, but will not be required to do so. In many cases Emergency Medical Services will need to be considered, particularly in areas where these services are offered by fire agencies such as Bodega Bay and the Russian River. To the extent feasible, this project will be integrated with the results of the Zone Six fire analysis conducted by LAFCO that is currently underway and build upon previous studies for standards of cover, fire finances and others.

The proposal will include:

  1. Scope
  2. Roles for stakeholders including an Advisory Committee coordinated with LAFCO
  3. Assessment of performance with existing governance structures and resources
  4. Identification of potential alternative models
  5. Desired outcomes
  6. Resources
  7. Timing

On a parallel track and to feed into the report for the Municipal Services Review, staff will analyze operational and financial data from all agencies as well as standards and benchmarks of operations in other jurisdictions throughout the country. See Attachment for initial list of data collection and analysis. This initial list is not in any priority order and will be added to as the project continues. Preliminary information from this data analysis will be shared with the focus groups, the Advisory Committee, and at the Summits.

4. Summits

Sponsor a pair of Fire Services Summits with all interested stakeholders. The first is to more publicly launch the project and will include presenting the results of the initial focus groups and the proposal for the above consultant services, and will solicit participation from other fire agencies. The second Summit would be to review the results of the work and the draft report.

5. County-wide Fire Services Municipal Services Review Report

Produce Report that includes recommendations from the above process including service and financial data and can be used as a part of any implementation actions that include reorganizations considered by LAFCO.

The desired outcome is to improve system for fire services in Sonoma County, including:

  1. Developing a strategy for improved fire services in Sonoma County, most likely reflecting a decision between a “Regional Zone” and “County-wide” approach, or a hybrid of the two.
  2. Recommendations and a plan to implement the chosen strategy.
  3. Progress during the course of the effort toward improvements in fire governance.