San Bernardino Seal

By Ryan Hagen, The Sun
Posted: 11/24/13, 5:39 PM PST |

SAN BERNARDINO >> If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again — but try something different the fourth time.

That’s how Councilman Fred Shorett approached his attempts to find out how much money could be saved by contracting out for fire protection services, failing to get approval from the necessary four members of the City Council at three consecutive meetings and then modifying the request in a way that passed unanimously.

Shorett says he hasn’t backed off his goal of requesting proposals from Cal Fire, the county Fire Department and others interested in potentially doing the job — something Shorett estimates could save the city $8 million to $12 million per year, although he hasn’t substantiated those estimates and says that’s the point of requesting proposals.

But he said he’s decided a better way to achieve the ultimate goal — being as efficient as possible — is to first do a study of the San Bernardino Fire Department’s needs and possible better or less expensive ways for it to provide service.

“This could still lead to contracting out, so I haven’t abandoned that at all,” Shorett said. “Perhaps they’ll say we don’t need 12 fire stations — or perhaps they’ll say we need 13. I’m not making a judgment on that, because I’m not the expert. I’m just saying someone should make that assessment.”

And at the Nov. 18 City Council meeting, all five of the council members present agreed with him, instructing City Manager Allen Parker to prepare a request for qualifications by the next council meeting if possible. Companies that might have the ability to assess a fire department’s needs would then be invited to submit their qualifications — a resume, essentially — and city staff will recommend what it considers the best-qualified company.

To read entire story, click here.