Shared Services Study Could Improve Emergency Response on Iron Range

By KBJR News 1

January 22, 2013 Updated Jan 22, 2013 at 7:27 PM CDT

Hibbing, MN (NNCNOW.com) - A new study could improve emergency response on the Iron Range.

A $40,000 grant given to the Hibbing Fire Department by the state Fire Marshal's office is helping them explore ways they could share services with several other Range departments. The study will be conducted by Emergency Services Consulting International (ESCI) and will study departments in Hibbing, Virginia, Grand Rapids, Chisholm, Keewatin, Mountain Iron, Nashwauk and Buhl.

"There are many different ways we could share services," said Hibbing Fire Chief, Scott Nehiba, "One of them would be a Mutual Aid Box Alarm System in which different departments would be tasked to respond to, let's say, Hibbing, or to the other departments."

The study will also look at sharing costly equipment among departments, which is sometimes too much money for departments to fund on their own.

"A lot of the cities aren't able to upgrade their fleet the way they were in the past, so we want to share those kind of services," said Nehiba.

It's an important study, because being short on staff and funding, makes the hard job of emergency response even more difficult.

It's a problem that the Minnesota Department of Public Safety says they see frequently.

"The resources of many local fire departments are stretched thin," said Deputy Director, Doug Neville, "So this gives these fire departments that are in similar communities an opportunity to come together, talk about what their challenges are and see if there's any areas of commonality."

An effort to work together, which could make a big difference when responding to emergencies.

"I hope everybody in the area gets better response times and a higher level of service than they currently have," said Nehiba of what he hopes comes out of the study.

The study is expected to be completed in June, at which time the cities will look at the findings and make decisions as to whether to take action and in which ways.

Written for the web by Jennifer Austin.