Fountain Valley back to exploring shared services

After opting to keep its own Fire Department intact, the loss of redevelopment funds has led Fountain Valley to reconsider sharing fire services with neighboring Huntington Beach.

The potential loss of up to $1.4 million in redevelopment funds from the general budget is forcing Fountain Valley to reexamine its options of sharing services, said Fountain Valley City Manager Ray Kromer.

"With us losing redevelopment money, we're just kind of making sure we're reexamining everything," he said. "We're just making sure we didn't miss anything with our preliminary discussion with Huntington Beach."

Sharing services at this time, however, will be done on a smaller scale from what was previously discussed. Fountain Valley is looking to only share the fire chief, a part-time nurse and a training officer, Kromer said. The three positions are currently vacant in Fountain Valley.

The city in October explored sharing some of Huntington Beach's command staff or partnering with the Orange County Fire Authority to provide services, but backed out when Fountain Valley officials realized their department staff would miss out on promotions and that the response time could be delayed, and began looking to hire a new fire chief.

"We haven't hired a fire chief yet, and we don't know how things are going to shake out with our redevelopment funds, so we said we've already investigated sharing with Huntington Beach, so let's give that a try for now," Councilman Larry Crandall said.

Former Laguna Beach Fire Chief Mike Macey served as Fountain Valley's interim chief for six months. His contract ended about six weeks ago, Crandall said.

"He had another commitment, so that's all he had time for," Crandall said.

Fountain Valley's three battalion chiefs have taken on the duties of the fire chief.

Sharing Huntington Beach's fire chief, training officer and a part-time nurse could save Fountain Valley between $80,000 and $100,000 a year, but that number is preliminary at this time, Kromer said.

Huntington Beach City Manager Fred Wilson said both cities plan to meet soon to discuss details of the plan.

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