The Brainerd City Council has given the Brainerd Fire Department approval the go ahead to form a committee to look into becoming a fire service district.
A fire service district would mean having the fire department enter into a joint powers agreement with the contracted areas that the fire department already covers, to form its own entity where firefighters would work together in providing more efficient fire protection, rescue and medical services.
If the fire department would enter into a joint powers agreement, it would not be part of the city but rather it would have its own governance board. The board would be run by people who serve as residents covered in the fire district, elected officials or appointed officials.
The joint powers board would have authority to establish administrative structure, establish the operating and capital improvement budgets, enter into contracts, hire/fire employees and own and operate equipment, vehicles and facilities.
If the committee agrees that the fire department should enter into a fire district, it will have to fund itself and get legislative approval.
Mark Turner, full-time equipment operator with the Brainerd Fire Department and president of the International Association of Fire Fighters union, said if the fire department forms a fire district that taxpayers are expected to save money in fire coverage through insurance premiums. Turner said citizens in the fire district coverage area would also receive a higher level of fire protection and services.
Turner said that East Gull Lake, Baxter and Unorganized Territory have expressed interest in joining a fire district.
“After doing extensive research on districts we are confident that this will create a higher level of service, faster response times in all coverage areas and all this can be accomplished with a savings to the community,” said Turner.
Brainerd Fire Department history:
• Prior to 1990, fire protection outside of Brainerd city limits was provided by a Rural Fire Association. Years after, extensive negotiations were had and an agreement was formed.
• Brainerd Fire has been providing full fire service protection to contracted areas since 1994 and include: Baxter, East Gull Lake, Unorganized Territory and the townships of Crow Wing, Fort Ripley, Long Lake, Maple Grove, Nokay Lake, Oak Lawn and St. Mathias.