Lansing is joining with five of its neighbors to create something close to a regional fire department. Fire departments in Lansing, East Lansing, Delhi Township, Lansing Township, Meridian Township and Delta Township have signed "shared service" agreements.
Under the agreements, the closest fire station will respond to local emergencies, whether the emergency is in their town or not. Under existing "mutual aid" agreements, the outside fire department has to be asked to respond.
“This regional collaboration improves the effective delivery of fire and EMS services to all the citizens who live and work and play in our region,” says Rick Royston, the Delhi Township fire chief.
Randy Talifarro is the fire chief in both Lansing and East Lansing. He says the agreements will mean faster response times.
“We’re going right out the door on some of these events and working seamlessly, almost as if one group,” says Talifarro.
While the "shared service" agreements may help save money, they may not lead to a true regional fire department. When asked about the potential for a regional fire department with a single command structure, one local official gave an emphatic “no.”
Legacy costs and other issues stand in the way of creating a true regional department for the Lansing metropolitan area.