Over the past few weeks, I've described the major trends affecting the fire service.And I've shared how these trends have affected other industries and offered some speculation that the fire service is ripe for consolidation.
So, will the fire service consolidate?Probably. The numbers just show it as an eventual outcome on the fire service in general. The economic forces facing the fire service are huge as its historically free labor transitions to a paid labor force and the cost of equipment and other costs rise faster than revenues.
When put in an economic model, these factors indicate that the industry must become more efficient in its resources. In other words, the better run departments will assume a larger and larger responsibility at the expense of the poorer run departments.
Payers (whoever they are in the community) will ask the question "Can our fire service be provided better and cheaper?" When this answer become "Yes", the current department will be lost to a better organization.
Will your department consolidate?If your department is able to be more efficient (do more with less) or convince your community to pay more, you can survive.
If your department doesn't adjust to these economic forces, your department will be measured against a more efficient neighbor.
SummaryThe fire service is facing some unprecedented economic trends. While the politics of each situation will be unique and possibly messy, the economics of providing fire service will be measured and compared in new ways in the future.
John R. Hill