…It is useful to understand that there are four types of consolidation with different characteristics. It is also helpful to examine the history of consolidation so that we can learn important lessons from mistakes made in the past. Specifically, we will identify the main problems with public safety officers that range from an actual increase in cost, to the life safety of both citizens and first responders. In different cities, consolidation can take many different forms. There are generally four general categories of consolidation:
- Full consolidation: The administration and operations of the fire and police departments merge into a single public safety department.
- Partial consolidation: A portion of the administration and operations merge (as in full consolidation) and fire and police are performed by traditional firefighters and police officers.
- Functional consolidation: Certain operations are performed jointly, but the separate firefighter and police identities are retained.
- Administrative consolidation: The administrative functions are combined, but operations remain separate.
In the past decades, there have been examples of PSO programs that simply did not work. Serious critical issues have arisen, including increased costs, low morale, inadequate training and decreased on-the-job experience. When Peoria, Illinois implemented a partial consolidation in 1962, the city’s per capita fire losses and its per capita fire department’s budget costs soared. In Daytona Beach, Florida in 1979, the public safety costs were higher and the turnover rate exceeded 16 percent. In 1985, the city of Durham, North Carolina ended its 14-year PSO program after acknowledging its deficiencies, which included difficulties in assembling fire teams in heavy crime areas, longer response times and inadequate in-service training. (You can read more about these cases here.)…..
The Continued Era of Consolidation Distressing for Fire and Police Departments