Medford City Council Joint Study Session
with Jackson County Fire District #3
August 14, 2014
The meeting was called to order at 6:00 p.m. at Emergency Communications of Southern Oregon, 400 Pech Road, Medford with the following members present.
Mayor Gary Wheeler; Councilmembers Daniel Bunn, John Michaels, Dick Gordon, Chris Corcoran, Tim Jackle, and Bob Strosser.
Jackson County Fire District #3 Board members Cindy Hauser, Harvey Tonn, Colin Fagan, John Dimick, and Jim Gillin.
1. ESCI Fire Services Study: Mayor Wheeler opened the meeting and spoke to the work done by all the participants as we moved through the process. He noted the City Council will be considering a resolution at their August 21st meeting based on information from Fire Dist. #3 and staff.
JCFD #3 President Gillian addressed the group and questioned if the Council is interested in pursuing additional cooperative agreements with the Fire Dist., not consolidation or annexation, but other areas that could be reviewed.
Councilmember Bunn noted that he is interested in looking at areas where the City’s professional staff has identified as opportunities. Councilmember Strosser noted he is interested in looking at potential opportunities and did support training opportunities.
City Manager Swanson noted that the attendees have been given a copy of the staff recommendation memo as well as a draft resolution that will be presented to the Council at the August 21 meeting for consideration.
Fire Chief Fish noted he recommends that the City continue with discussions with Fire Dist. #3 on the various areas as outlined in the staff recommendation memo. Councilmember Corcoran questioned how Fire Dist. #2 and the IAFF would be involved in the discussions. FC Fish noted that some decisions are administrative but that he would work collaboratively and utilize all experience and expertise.
Mr. Fagan questioned if the City Council is still supportive of the existing cooperative agreement and Council noted they are supportive. Mr. Fagan noted that Fire Dist. #3 board members are concerned given the recent memo from the IAFF that spoke to a “safety risk” when Fire Dist. #3 is on scene in the City. He stated if the Council has concerns they need to be addressed. Council did not feel they were qualified to respond and rely on the Fire Chief to address. FC Fish noted that he has no concerns in this regard. He is working with FC Peterson regarding a procedure to address and investigate if something should arise.
Councilmember Gordon noted he felt that any future agreements with Fire Dist. #3 that will impact Fire Dist. #2 should include Fire Dist. #2 in the discussion. Councilmember Strosser noted he wants Fire Dist. #2 included and not just informed.
Mayor Wheeler spoke to the history of working together and that now there is some unrest and friction on scene that was not there before. Issues need to be dealt with, line workers need to work this out but he did not feel there is a big difference in the training.
Mr. Fagan noted that this has been frustrating for Fire Dist. #3 board members as he felt that the initial meetings there was consensus and commitment to moving forward to see if there was any level of shared service. He felt this effort was torpedoed before it could move forward. If the City Council is committed to moving forward he hopes that the Council will support the effort and the Fire Chiefs. He spoke to the disruption of the process by IAFF and Fire Dist. #2.
Mr. Dimick suggested that the new Fire Chief for Medford needs to find out what is going on, get his feet under him and then the discussion between the Fire Chiefs will provide better direction and recommendations for the Board and Council to consider.
Mr. Tonn noted that he felt that the City and Fire Dist. #3 were moving forward with the study and then something happened to derail this process. The document from the IAFF offended him and his district members. Work needs to be done to correct that and mitigate the friction and hard feelings. The statement regarding safety concerns was directed at the Fire Dist. #3 employees and was taken personally. He does not want to put the District employees in a situation where they are identified as a safety risk.
FC Fish apologized for the level of frustration; he stated he felt that he was partially responsible given the lack of time to work with his employees prior to the presentation. In retrospect, if he had had more time perhaps he could have helped this come forward in a more constructive manner.
Councilmember Bunn noted that the hurtful and mean statements were not representative of the Council. He felt Fire Dist. #3 was treated poorly and expressed hope that the cultural problem on the City’s side of the table can be address by the new Fire Chief.
Mr. Fagan noted that Fire Dist. #3 personnel are highly trained, committed and loyal to the whole community. They want to deal with what they need to and move forward professionally.
Ms. Hauser noted that she would like to see the District continue to serve the Jackson County community. She wants the culture of each organization to be protected. She suggested that they take a time out and allow FC Fish to get his feet under him before proceeding.
City Manager Swanson noted that the resolution does not have a time frame in it, but merely gives FC Fish the approval to continue to work with Fire Dist. #3 and the other stakeholders to look for opportunities.
FC Peterson noted he is looking forward to working with FC Fish. They have worked together for a long time, know each other well and he feels will be able to look realistically at the opportunities that may exist.
Councilmember Bunn questioned if the proposed resolution is necessary and if it would be helpful. FC Fish stated it would be helpful to him if the Council supported the resolution as it provides clarity in direction for him.
Councilmember Jackle suggested that the resolution include comments regarding Fire Dist. #2 and inclusion of that relationship. Councilmember Strosser agreed.
City Manager Swanson noted that FC Fish would be provided quarterly updates to the Council on the items outlined in the resolution. He spoke to working with Fire Chief Peterson and appreciation of his perspective on these issues. FC Peterson came from Medford and Mr. Swanson appreciates his sincerity in serving the citizens of both communities.
Mayor thanked everyone who participated in this process, feels that we can move forward from this point, feels we will be stronger for the effort and difficulties we have endured.
Medford Firefighter Allen Rogers spoke to the relationship of the line firefighters from Medford and Fire Dist. #3 and that they work well together. Council and Board members should not be concerned.
Bryan Bumgartner, representing the IAFF, addressed the group regarding the IAFF memo and reference to the safety issue. Councilmember Corcoran questioned if he felt this could be addressed by FC Fish and Mr. Bumgartner said yes.
Councilmembers and board members spoke to the benefit of the joint meeting and the moving forward based on recommendations from the Fire Chiefs as they look for opportunities that can be addressed.
Meeting adjourned at 7:12 p.m.