Baraboo may pay a consultant $24,000 to implement a management plan for the Fire Department.

On Thursday, the Baraboo Common Council’s Public Safety Committee voted 3-0 to recommend paying RW Management $4,000 per month for up to six months. The measure will go to the full Common Council.

Earlier this year, the Waukesha firm analyzed the Fire Department and determined its needs to add daytime staff and move to a new facility. According to RW Management’s implementation proposal, project manager Jeffrey Roemer would lead meetings of Fire Department staff and administration and develop a training plan. The firm has handled more than 50 similar projects throughout the U.S. over the past 19 years.

Fire Chief Kevin Stieve said this process will help the department “figure things out, find a system that works.”

Baraboo leaders said they’d like to see the management plan implemented in four months, capping their commitment at six months. “$24,000 isn’t a lot for a management study,” council member Michael Plautz said.

City Administrator Ed Geick would participate in the implementation process and report back to the mayor and council.

Stieve said Roemer could help mediate any friction that may result from changes to department operations. “He’s confident he can help us with implementing our strategy,” Stieve said.

In a report released earlier this year, RW Management determined adding full-time staff would help the department respond to daytime calls, when most paid-on-call firefighters aren’t available. The firm recommends hiring a full-time firefighter to respond to daytime calls and handle routine daily duties, an emergency services director to facilitate cooperation with Baraboo District Ambulance Service, and a building inspector who would also serve on the Fire Department and assist the fire inspector.

The consultant also called for the Fire Department to implement an “on call schedule” that would assign shifts during weeknights and weekends, ensuring a company of firefighters would be available to respond when full-time staff is off duty.

The department has only two full-time staffers, Stieve and Fire Inspector Tom Clark. It has 38 paid-on-call firefighters who protect 17,000 residents over 107 square miles in and around Baraboo.

RW Management described the city’s plan to remodel its Fourth Street municipal building to accommodate fire and ambulance services as “a stopgap measure at best.”

Most city offices are vacating the 1962 municipal building for a police station and city hall under construction on the riverfront. City leaders plan to renovate the Fourth Street building for use by firefighters and possibly the ambulance crew.

“The cost to remodel City Hall will likely far outweigh the benefits,” the consultant’s report states.

RW Management recommends adding a fire and ambulance facility to the library expansion project the city is planning for 2021. City leaders have been cool to that concept, noting that a new fire/EMS facility has been proposed for 2028.

Another possibility, the consultant wrote, would be asking whether the Army National Guard Armory on South Boulevard might become available.

The consultant observed that the Fire Department and Ambulance Service should better collaborate on training, purchasing and equipment sharing. An emergency services director could help coordinate such efforts.

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