In 2007 the communities of Bedford and Maple Heights recognized that regional cooperation in providing fire services would be cost effective and beneficial to their communities and residents. The areas to be addressed under the agreement include:
- Joint capital planning and purchasing.
- Future shared dispatch planning.
- Joint training exercises.
- Joint Fire/EMS outreach ventures.
Many of the goals outlined in this agreement have been achieved.
The Cities of Bedford and Maple Heights shared a common goal of to providing the highest possible level of firefighter and civilian safety through efficient fire ground operations. In order to achieve this goal it was imperative that adequately staffed fire apparatus are dispatched in a timely fashion to an emergency scene. In 2010 the departments implemented an aggressive auto response policy as well as adjusting apparatus response and firefighter assignments in order to achieve this goal.
A system was implemented in which fire crews from both cities were automatically dispatched, by the host city, on all alarms within each municipality. This automatic dispatching decreased the amount of time it took for each city to process a call through their respective dispatch centers and have units responding within a condensed time frame.
The response plan also included a fully staffed ladder truck responding on all fire alarms and incidents. In order to achieve this, the Bedford Fire Department no longer staffs a ladder truck at our station while Maple Hts no longer staffs their engine located at station #1. The two communities are sharing these resources. The adjustments of firefighter assignments enabled each city to staff, and respond with, fire apparatus with four firefighters. The City of Bedford benefited by having a fully staffed ladder truck responding from Maple Heights Station #1 on all alarms. This equated to a 45% increase on initial alarm responding firefighters.
Oakwood Village Fire Department agreed to enter into the auto response initiative for certain incidents occurring in Bedford. For credible reports of structure fires or explosions the City of Bedford benefited from a 70% increase in initial alarm responding firefighters as a result of the automatic dispatching and apparatus staffing practices of the three communities.
Historically the firefighters from Bedford and Maple Heights would train together on specialized topics (i.e. Confined Space, Rope Rescue and Rapid Intervention/Firefighter Rescue). As 2010 was ending the training officers from both departments were developing a program that would involve the departments training together on a monthly basis.
The theory is that the two departments are slowly gravitating toward efficiently functioning as a single entity at fire and emergency incidents. Therefore cohesive strategies, assignments and tasks at incidents should be addressed. Topics and exercises will focus on daily operations (i.e. fire ground operations) utilizing resources of both departments.