Columbia and Boone Co. Fire District reach cooperative agreement

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COLUMBIA - The City of Columbia and the Boone County Fire Protection District (BCFPD) entered a collective agreement this week. The agreement outlines which party is responsible for providing fire protection services, emergency rescue service, first response emergency medical service, and hazardous material response services within each jurisdiction.

The city fire chief and the county fire chief determined which agency will provide automatic aid to certain areas in the city and the county. Automatic aid means both departments are dispatched automatically to the same call for service.

BCFPD Battalion Chief Gale Blomenkamp said this agreement helps clear up outlying areas of Columbia. Blomenkamp also said the new boundaries help in areas where a BCFPD station is closer than a Columbia station or vice versa.

"The two fire chiefs were assigned to work out an equitable agreement for both organizations that reduces the call volume for each agency running into each other's jurisdictions, but still put first the customer out there in those fringe areas where it really doesn't matter to them whether it's a red fire truck or a yellow fire truck. When they have an emergency, they just need a fire truck," Blomenkamp said. 

The city will also make a one-time payment of $350,000 to compensate the BCFPD as a reimbursement of all services. The payment will be made within 30 days of the agreement. The city does not owe the fire district any other amount. 

The intention of the agreement is to balance which department answers which calls for service and the costs of the services. The intention is that no further compensation will be exchanged for the services of either party. Blomenkamp said the city made payments to the district in the past agreement that expired March 31, 2014. 

"So we are responding to fewer calls in the city, and they are responding to fewer calls in the county. So that's brought the response number underneath 100 responses for both agencies which allows us to save on our resources and save our people from running on that many calls, but it still provides customer service to those people that need it most," Blomenkamp said.  

The departments will conduct reviews of the agreement every six months in order to ensure the automatic aid from the departments is an equal amount. 

The city manager's office did not return a call from KOMU 8 News requesting a comment on the agreement.