The Rural/Metro brand name will likely shrink more than originally expected in its hometown by 2005.
The private emergency services company is considering a plan that would allow its sister company, Southwest Ambulance, to take over ambulance service in Scottsdale.
Rural/Metro executives told the Tribune that Southwest Ambulance could inherit the 911 ambulance contract with the city by June 30, 2005, when Scottsdale makes the transition from Rural/Metro Fire Department to a municipal fire department.
The contract has a provision that would allow Rural/Metro to transfer ambulance services to one of its subsidiaries in the event that the company no longer provides fire protection in Scottsdale.
While the ambulance contract is valid through mid-2007, the transition to Southwest Ambulance would likely occur before then, said Kurt Krumperman, president of Rural/Metro's fire and emergency services group.
"By June 30, 2005, those ambulances will probably be replaced with Southwest ambulances, with Southwest staff on them," Krumperman said. "It's conceivable some transition could happen before that. We've talked about it here as a possibility, and Southwest has certainly talked about it with their group as a possibility."
While the change presents a number of logistical challenges for the company, it wouldn't mean much for residents, he said. The ambulances would simply be owned by a different division of Rural/Metro Corp., and the name on the side of the trucks would be different, Krumperman said.
Rural/Metro Fire Department and Southwest Ambulance are subsidiaries of Scottsdale-based Rural/Metro Corp.
Southwest also provides 911 ambulance service to most East Valley communities, including Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert and Apache Junction.
Rural/Metro announced in November that it is ending its 52-year fire-protection agreement with Scottsdale by July 2005. The announcement came only six months after the company waged a costly election fight to keep the private contract.
Southwest officials said it's too early to discuss specifics about the plan and whether it will go into place.
"There may have been some conversations about it internally, about how that would work," said Josh Weiss, Southwest Ambulance spokesman. "But we really haven't gotten to the point where there is anything concrete."
Since seven Rural/Metro ambulances are staged at Scottsdale-owned fire stations throughout the city, Southwest would need to either negotiate leases with Scottsdale or find new locations.
Southwest typically operates from its own facilities in other cities, Weiss said.
The move might spur Scottsdale to renegotiate its ambulance contract, including charging the company a fee for providing the service in Scottsdale, said City Manager Jan Dolan.
Dolan said the city will have to answer other big questions in the coming months, including whether it would sign leases with Southwest to park ambulances at city fire stations, and whether the city should pursue its own state-issued ambulance license, known as a Certificate of Necessity.
Scottsdale Mayor Mary Manross agreed that the city will be hashing out different ambulance scenarios at the same time it is preparing to form a municipal fire department.
"At least we have time to analyze these things, and frankly we are just beginning that process," she said. "We're going to study it very carefully so that whatever decision we make is going to be in the best interest of the people in this community."