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Twin City Joint Fire Command an excellent idea

Rock Falls and Sterling city councils are on the verge of combining the administrative functions of their fire departments. We praise city officials for their efforts to work together, save money, and improve efficiency.

Published: Friday, Sept. 6, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013 8:42 a.m. CDT

The Twin City Joint Fire Command – we like the sound of that.

We also like the efforts put forth by the cities of Rock Falls and Sterling that have the Twin Cities on the verge of creating a new way to administer their fire departments.

The city councils for both communities will meet Monday in a rare joint session. They are expected to put their stamps of approval on an intergovernmental agreement to combine administrative functions of the two fire departments.

The cities have already test driven the cooperative concept. Since late 2010, when Sterling's veteran fire chief, Arlyn Oetting, retired, the cities have had an agreement where Gary Cook, Rock Falls deputy fire chief, serves as Sterling's fire chief.

The experiment must have worked out pretty well.

Now that Rock Falls' veteran fire chief, J.W. Larson, is ready to retire, department administration will be further melded.

As of Sept. 28, Cook will become chief of the Twin City Joint Fire Command. His salary and benefits will be shared by Sterling and Rock Falls based on population (about three-fifths covered by Sterling, two-fifths by Rock Falls). Two deputy fire chiefs, one from each city, will also be named.

Along with saving money by sharing a fire chief, the cities expect additional operational efficiencies and fewer redundancies in areas such as expensive specialized equipment.

Governmental agencies joining forces to save money and improve efficiency? We can't encourage that enough.

Congratulations to city officials in Sterling and Rock Falls for finding new ways to cooperate. Twin Cities taxpayers should be pleased. We certainly are.

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