UNDATED -- Several cities in the St. Cloud metro area have hired an outside consultant for a regional fire study.

St. Joseph, Sartell, Waite Park and St. Cloud are all participating in the study that will look at fire service and potential opportunities to share services, training, equipment, and more.

The study will certainly look at each of our individual communities and provide us with individual recommendations of how we might be better served in the future, but it's also going to hopefully give us some recommendations and thoughts about what are some things that we might be wanting to consider jointly.

Waite Park City Administrator Shaunna Johnson says each city's fire department is unique, for example, St. Joseph does medicals while Waite Park does not, Sartell has a full-time fire chief while St. Joseph and Waite Park don't, and of course, St. Cloud's is a full-time department while the other three are volunteer departments.

Johnson says the regional study does not mean they are considering a consolidation of the departments. Each of the cities already have a mutual aid agreement in place.

Johnson says the cities are all seeing an increase in calls for service.

Even looking at what are the calls that we are getting in, and what can we do from the fire prevention side and reduce those calls, and why are we getting an increase in calls for service?

Johnson says while the number of calls continues to rise finding firefighters to respond has been dropping. She says in Waite Park for example they typically have 30 firefighters but right now they are down to about 20, which is concerning.

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The cities of St. Cloud, St. Joseph, Waite Park and Sartell have each agreed to spend a little over $15,000 for the regional fire study conducted by Emergency Services Consulting International.  The cities are using federal ARPA funds to pay for it.

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