All fired up about consolidation again

It’s certainly welcome news that the Grand Junction Fire Department and the Clifton Fire Department are exploring ways of working together to avoid duplication of services and equipment, and to reduce confusion over which agency responds to calls in the east-central part of the Grand Valley.

Count us among those who believe consolidation of special districts such as fire districts is desirable, creating more efficiency and less duplication than a proliferation of smaller districts.

But we also recall it was just a few years ago that Mesa County officials led a valleywide effort to examine fire service and discuss possible consolidation of some departments. The net result was a lot of discussion and debate, but no significant change in the way fire and emergency services are provided.

Territorial pride and protection is a major reason for that. Most small districts were created because no other agency at the time would provide the services that residents of those areas wanted. People in those districts are understandably proud about having taken care of their own needs for decades, and reluctant to abandon their autonomy to a larger, less-localized agency, even if there might be cost savings in such an arrangement.

Despite tougher economic realities, we doubt that much has changed since the last effort.

While the idea of consolidation has been mentioned once again with respect to emergency services in the Pear Park area, a more limited proposal appears to be receiving greater interest. The Grand Junction and Clifton fire departments are discussing the possibility of sharing space in a new Pear Park fire station, and better coordinating their emergency responses in that area.

It is a step in the right direction — one that should be welcomed by all who would like to see more efficient delivery of fire and emergency services in the Grand Valley.


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