Houston Mesa Fire District and the newly formed Hellsgate Fire District have completed negotiations and have entered into a six month Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) for operational assistance.
This agreement provides for the sharing of the duties of the fire chief of Hellsgate Fire Department (HFD), Gary W. Hatch, the training of firefighters by HFD's training division and cooperative response on calls as needed, said Lori Webster, Houston Mesa Fire District board chairperson.
This agreement also provides for administrative assistance from HFD's office personnel.
The Houston Mesa Fire District board has carefully watched the progress of Tonto Villages Fire District and Hellsgate Fire District and based on the positive outcome decided to enter into a similar agreement, said Webster.
Houston Mesa Fire Department is a small district operating on a shoestring budget.
"Our community knows we have had our fair share of problems. The new fire board's focus is on increasing the quality of service to our community based on it demographics, geography and needs," she said.
Eighty-five percent of the district calls are for medical reasons, and by entering into the IGA it will be able to provide a medic on those cooperative calls.
"This alone is a valuable new service to our community and we feel the quality of service can only improve through the IGA. The IGA also eliminates the need for hiring a full time fire chief for our department and having to pay for the duplication for many of the same services the departments provide," Webster.
The agreement took effect on April 1, and runs until Sept. 30.
Either board can terminate this agreement if they desire. It can be extended for 12 months at the end of the initial contract. If the Houston Mesa Fire District board wishes to make it permanent, then a consolidation may take place.
The name Houston Mesa Fire Department remains the same and the fire board will continue in its management duties and our local fire station will remain the responding units.
Chief Hatch said, "This is a good group of firefighters and they have a great new board of directors, my job is to provide stability to the fire department and to see if we can help improve services".
He continues "the same people will be responding and everyone is staying on the HMFD.
"The agreement with Houston Mesa Fire District is basically the same as the one entered into with the Tonto Village Fire District.
"We will be providing Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) for medical calls during this agreement to the residents and their guests in the Houston Mesa area. Currently ACLS is provided to all areas of the Hellsgate Fire District and this is a standard of care that they feel is necessary to care for their residents and guests of the district."
If anyone is interested in volunteering at the Houston Mesa Fire Department, contact the office of Hellsgate Fire Department at 928-474-3835.