A functional merger will move the Milton (and Milton Township) and Janesville fire departments closer to complete consolidation.

The Milton Joint Fire Commission approved an addition to the shared services agreement on Nov. 18 and the city approved the addition on Dec. 1 and the Town of Milton approved the addition on Dec. 14.

After the town of Milton and city of Janesville approve the updated agreement, Chief Ernie Rhodes, who is chief of both fire departments, will begin merging functions of the department.

According to a Dec. 9 memo from City of Milton Finance Director/Treasurer Dan Nelson and Rhodes to the city council and town board, the following actions will occur:

1. Merge command staff to eliminate task saturation and join common standard operating guidelines, policies, and duplicative tasks by establishing the following sections: Administration, Operations, Logistics, Training, EMS, and Fire Inspection and Prevention by using current command staff members from each fire department.

2. Combine all operational standard operating guidelines within one year.

3. Establish a reserve fire apparatus pool to create cost savings for both departments.

4. Standardize response guidelines to create one interoperable fire department to enhance tactical capability within one year.

5. Assure all agencies have required human resource policies to create consistent administrative policies and procedures within six months.

6. Identify common goods and equipment for group purchasing within six months.

7. Create a training division responsible for building and implementing an all-hazards training plan and coordinating all personnel training.

8. Implement the “task books,” which outline training and testing to be completed for a specific job.

9. Create full-time/part-time positions to enhance consistent staffing.

10. Use one record management system for data collecting to support decision making and establishing an operational dashboard.

While waiting for a referendum to pass, the memo states a plan will be finalized for transitioning to the Janesville Fire Department. Most of this plan will be administrative in detail because the functional merger would complete the operational aspect.

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