At its Feb. 7 meeting, the Sturgeon Bay Common Council will choose between two consultants to study the Sturgeon Bay Fire Department’s coverage area.
Currently the department is responsible for providing fire protection services to the city as well as to the towns of Sevastopol and Sturgeon Bay. Sturgeon Bay Fire Chief Tim Dietman said the department has had requests to provide some services to other communities, and conducting the study will give a better picture of the situation.
“This had started a few years ago,” Dietman said. “With Jacksonport bordering Sevastopol, the Town of Jacksonport Fire Department and town board asked if we would be interested in providing fire inspection reports for the Town of Jacksonport because they were having some issues with an outside company that they had contracted with, so we did set up an agreement with them that we provide fire inspections services, go into all the commercial businesses and apartment buildings with three or more units, twice a year to do fire inspections. We’re currently doing that for them.”
Since then, several other communities have made queries about the Sturgeon Bay department providing services.
“The Town of Nasewaupee asked if we would be interested in providing protection. They are right on our south border,” Dietman said. “They laid out some of the issues they were having through their contract with southern Door fire [the Brussels-Union-Gardner Fire Dept. is their own entity, not owned by any jurisdiction] and the budgeting amounts and the predicaments they were getting put into.”
Dietman and the department also made a presentation to the Gibraltar Town Board last year, but town chair Dick Skare said it was purely informational and the town put more effort into recruitment and retention for its volunteer fire department and has decided not to ask the city fire department for assistance.
However, just being asked was enough for the department to assess just how much service it could provide to others.
“What we as a city did, seeing we had these three jurisdictions, to hire a consultant to do a feasibility study for the city,” Dietman said. “We felt it was important to be able to do to provide the protection services and manpower and not jeopardize anything in the City of Sturgeon Bay or the Town of Sturgeon Bay or the Town of Sevastopol.”
Dietman also cautions that hiring the consultant doesn’t mean the city fire department will take on more work.
“Just because we’re doing this, it doesn’t mean we want them to take us for protection. It’s just the first step to see if this is the best thing for the City of Sturgeon Bay and the fire department,” he said. “There’s so much that goes along with it. We feel – between myself and my command staff – we feel we can make this work, but we don’t want the constituents saying, ‘You’re going down to Nasewaupee now. Are we still protected?’ We’ll never leave our current areas unprotected. That will never happen. We’re just looking for some help on looking at the fine points of these arrangements. They look at us and see where we are at threshold-wise. Should we not take any more on? If we do take on more, do we hire more part-time or full-time guys or command staff?”
After the common council chooses which consultant to hire based on the fire department’s recommendation, Dietman said he expects the consultant will need about a three-month time frame to complete a report.