Public Safety Departments: A Second Evaluation of the Consolidation of The City of Mercer Island's Department of Public Safety

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By Christian D. Tubbs

In the author's previous applied research project (ARP), the literary research indicated a national pattern of neglect concerning the fire service in Public Safety consolidated organizations. The author's applied research project indicated that in several ways Mercer Island's Public Safety Department experienced a similar fate.

The problem is that no definitive evaluation of this fire service neglect has been conducted regarding Mercer Island's Department of Public Safety. A recommendation of the author's previous ARP included examining how Mercer Island's Fire Service has been neglected. The intent of this research project was to examine the impact of consolidation on the fire service.

Both evaluative research, through the use of a survey and a questionnaire, and descriptive methods were used to answer the following questions:

The literature review was unable to locate a singular analysis method or process for the purpose of consolidated and non-consolidated organizational comparisons. The literature review was able to identify both negative and positive impacts of consolidation upon the fire service. Primarily the impact to the fire service appears to be negative, but several cases were found where consolidation has had positive consequences. In conjunction with the impacts of consolidation, research also found several effects to service delivery as a result of consolidation. Some of these were minor, and some had greater significance.

The surveys, interviews and questionnaires indicated that consolidation efforts have had both positive and negative impacts to the fire service. Some of these impacts remain internal, while others affect service delivery. The results of Mercer Island's consolidation are similar to the national trends.

The recommendations include conducting an independent analysis of the consolidated Department at Mercer Island, specifically looking at those items identified in the report. The Mercer Island City Council should then meet to analyze the findings. Additionally, as responsible stewards to the community, The Mercer Island Department of Public Safety should request a reassessment of its ISO rating immediately. Finally, there should be movement nationally to establish common methods of measurement to assist in comparative analysis.