Rural/Metro caught off guard by Q.C. - East Valley Tribune: News

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Rural/Metro caught off guard by Q.C.

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Posted: Thursday, October 25, 2007 3:08 am

Rural/Metro Fire Department is still recovering from learning that its fire services are no longer needed in Queen Creek.

The immediate impact isn’t known days after losing a contract that could have brought in millions of dollars from a town that Rural/Metro has been helping for years to form a town-run fire department.

In what Rural/Metro calls a shocking move, Queen Creek decided to negotiate with Gilbert for firefighters to staff its fire department for 2008.

Rural/Metro Fire Chief Gary Morris remained optimistic Wednesday, stating that Gilbert hasn’t yet committed to the service, and said the company will determine how to proceed.

“This is one step in a direction of uncertainty in regards to what Gilbert wants to do, what Queen Creek wants to do and how Rural/Metro will respond,” Morris said.

The future for some two dozen Rural/Metro firefighters who have been providing service to Queen Creek is also uncertain.

Rural/Metro is looking at all its options, and it’s unclear what will happen to the personnel, said Alison Cooper, Rural/Metro spokeswoman. Morris said it’s a matter of shifting resources.

Bryan Jeffries, executive vice president of the Professional Firefighters of Arizona, which is over the local union that includes Rural/Metro firefighters, said he is concerned about the firefighters who have been working there.

Jeffries said he and others are looking for a way to help the personnel make the transition to new roles as Queen Creek firefighters once the town begins recruitment.

Losing Queen Creek falls in a line of communities Rural/Metro has had to leave or has left over the years.

In June, Paradise Valley opted to have Phoenix firefighters serve their needs. In 2005, the company ended service in Scottsdale, which formed its own fire department.

Rural/Metro also covered Gilbert until the early 1990s and continued to serve county islands near the town until Sept. 30, 2006.

Morris said growth in Pinal County will allow Rural/Metro to expand in the area. On Nov. 3, a fire station will open in the Copper Basin Development off Hunt Highway and Copper Mine Road.

In the next 10 to 15 years the company could have six fire stations between Florence and Queen Creek, Morris said.

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