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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Collaboration in the Cloquet Area

A collaboration between communities resulted in a fire district.
The roundtable discussion session at the League’s 2014 Annual Conference was titled “Public Safety Collaboration Models.” That afternoon it quickly became apparent that the attendees from around the state had done their homework as they discussed the complexities and the politics of merging, contracting, or collaborating with another municipality to provided EMS, fire, or police services.

They also knew that for many cities, the collaboration discussion was more about being able to provide quality and responsive emergency service than it was about saving money. The recruitment and retention issues for EMS and fire departments are real—as is maintaining safe staffing levels and dealing with officer turnover for the police departments.

One of the successful collaborations they discussed was the Cloquet Area Fire District. The fire district is the result of cities of Cloquet, Scanlon, and Peach Lake Township coming together to jointly provide fire and EMS service. The district has been operating since January 1, 2009 and received a 2013 Bush Foundation’s “Prize for Community Innovation.”

The fire district's headquarters are in Scanlon.
I spent a few hours this spring with Kevin Schroeder, the fire chief for the Cloquet Area Fire District. He walked me through their process for the collaboration and through the numerous issues they resolved. He said that the collaboration was not immediately more cost effective—as resources had to be realigned to serve the entire district—but they were able to provide an increased level of service both in response and prevention. The district has also been operating long enough that they are now realizing the cost savings.  

When our roundtable discussion concluded, I told the group that when I left Chief Schroeder’s office that day in April, I realized he had never used the pronoun “I.”

Here is link to a four-minute video on the District, as well as the District’s website:


                                       Responder Safety = Public Safety

Up next…The 2014 LMC Law Summaries—What Impacts Public Safety

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.


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