Fire Efficiency Study Passes Huntington City Council 7-3

by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter
Council Finance Chairman Steve Williams listens to the debate on the Fire Department study
Council Finance Chairman Steve Williams listens to the debate on the Fire Department study

HUNTINGTON, WV (HNN) – McGrath Consulting Group of McHenry, Illinois, has been awarded a contract to conduct a comprehensive review of the Huntington Fire Department. The $32,385 McGrath bid represented the second lowest. Councilman Jim Insco asked that Kramer & Associates of Cincinnati, Ohio, who submitted a $27,400 bid, receive the contract.

However, the Finance Committee had recommended McGrath Consulting Group based on what council Finance Director Steve Williams called , “a detailed process” to rank companies submitting bids. The process had been put in place following specification gaps in a proposed Big Sandy Superstore Arena seating contract and an earlier contract involving the purchase of police radio units.

Previously, purchasing director Darryl Miller had explained that both companies have former firefighters that held assistant fire chief and fire chief rankings heading the firms. A total of seven bids on the consulting study were received.

Brandi Jacobs-Jones, director of administration and finance, explained that McGraff’s services go beyond finances. It’s website states they analyze the department’s organizational structure, provide labor mediation services, assist in facility planning, consolidation opportunities, audits for policies and procedures of departments, risk analysis, compliance with local , state and federal mandates, alternative funding and audits.

As part of the McGrath team, Dr. Victoria McGrath interviews members of the department. She has 17 years of experience in the public and private sectors.

The independent study came after members of Local 289 of the IAFF presented Huntington City Council and the Wolfe Administration with a petition of “no confidence” in Fire Chief C. Creig Moore.

Wolfe proposed the independent study after a six hour dialogue with firefighter’s union members.

In addition, the International  Association of Firefighters will conduct a two-part free study analyzing finances and fire station response times.

Following the council meeting, Capt. Jan Radar told HNN, “I welcome the study. As long as any company uses NFPA Standard 1500 and NFPA Standard 1710 that would be ok with us.” Ms. Radar indicated that the IAFF will also conduct a study. “I hope they [council and the Wolfe Administration] are willing to look at the IAFF study as well.”

Currently, the city has 99 firefighters and Local 289 Vice President Shane Masters explained the staff level is supposed to be 116 firefighters.

Council voted down Insco’s motion to go with Kramer & Associates.

“They are closer and have a working relationship with Marshall University,” Insco told council members.

Councilman Scott Caserta , who seconded Insco’s motion to open additional debate, gave his approval to the union IAFF study.

“I don’t think anybody knows Huntington better than our own IAFF,” suggesting an “in house” study costing the city nothing, Caserta said.

Council woman Rebecca Thacker voiced her support for the free union generated study, which based on prior proposals, would be conducted by the International Association of Firefighters, but, not by , members of the Huntington local.

Frances Jackson , like Captain Radar, supported both studies.

“I’m glad the IAFF is conducting one,” stressing that the results of the two studies combined are less likely to be challenged for bias, the chairwoman of council’s Public Safety Committee explained.

Mayor Kim Wolfe told council that the purpose was to have a “professional, unbiased” study. Wolfe earlier told the Herald-Dispatch, “we want to ensure the safety of our citizens and our firefighters. If the consultant can find savings, then it will further benefit our department and citizens.”

For a look at the websites of Kramer & Assoc. and McGrath Consulting, you can visit: http://www.mcgrathconsulting.com/theconsultants.asp and  http://www.emergencyserviceconsultants.com/about.nxg .

 


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