Fire partnership is improving emergency responses in the Jackson area

Photo courtesy City of Jackson

In Aug. 2023, the Jackson Fire Department (JFD) and Summit Township Fire Department (SFD) agreed to a new plan that allows fire units to respond to medical emergencies outside their township or city limits if the call is closer to where they are stationed. A partnership already existed for fire responses. More than half a year into the new agreement, fire officials looked at response data and found many benefits. 

JFD Deputy Fire Chief Tim Gonzales says data shows the two departments are not overwhelmed by responding to more emergencies.

“I was pleased to see that call volumes for both departments have been nearly identical to what they were before the expanded partnership,” Gonzales said.

Firefighters have seen improved response times from this collaboration. “When every second counts, an efficient response can save lives and improve patient outcomes,” Gonzales said. Crews have found that dispatching the closest unit frees up other resources to respond to additional calls. “This is particularly important in situations where multiple emergencies are happening at the same time,” Gonzales said.

There’s also fuel cost savings from reducing travel distances. Records show Jackson has saved around $6,000 on fire truck fuel since the partnership began. Summit Township Supervisor Todd Emmons says the township fire service has seen fuel costs go down as well. “Because of the shorter distances traveled, there are also considerable savings in routine maintenance costs for the vehicles,” Emmons said.

Summit Fire Chief Tim McEldowney says the expanded collaboration has improved responses to the township’s hard-to-reach areas, such as neighborhoods along Francis Street.

“A crew from Jackson’s Station No. 2 can be there in a matter of minutes, whereas it can be a six-minute arrival time for us,” McEldowney said.

The SFD chief says this partnership has increased public safety for Summit residents. “Fire departments are expensive to run. This makes the departments more sustainable while providing high-quality service to citizens,” McEldowney said.  

Jackson City Manager Jonathan Greene thanks Summit Township for this ongoing effort. “Quality of life improves when local governments collaborate. It’s fantastic to see neighboring communities work together to make our area safer,” Greene said.

The success of this collaboration has brought additional agreements for the two departments, such as responding to vehicle crashes and fire alarms. SFD fire trucks are also now being repaired by Jackson’s Department of Public Works.

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