Everett Fire Captain Offers Alternate Measure of Return on Fire Service Costs

Everett Fire Dept.

How do you measure the return on investment of a fire department?

Currently the Everett Fire Department is one of three City of Everett departments under review as the city tries to reduce its long-term deficits.

The city has hired a consulting firm, Fitch and Associates to look at short and long term ways to improve efficiency and reduce fire service costs. Everett is being asked to consider its risk tolerance and what is acceptable for response times and outcomes.

As part of work on his Masters degree, Everett Fire Captain David DeMarco is suggesting that there may be various ways to define value in order to measure the return on the investment that Everett puts into its fire department.

He’s outlined a couple of those thoughts here and asked MyEverettNews.com to have our readers take a look at his ideas and give feedback here.

Today’s fire service leadership is employed by elected governance that demands cost accountability.

Operating a fire department is expensive, and if you are in the business of balancing municipal books the fire department represents a large portion of your budget, with no measurable ROI except that sense of community comfort.

If you’re facing deficits it is tempting to reduce services to reduce expenses because you know that as long as you don’t disrupt the community sense of well-being, the reduction will not likely draw much attention.

For this reason it is essential that the fire service learn to report their operations not just in terms of losses, or costs, but also retained value.

DeMarco cites the recent New Year’s Eve fire at the Bluffs Apartments and the way it has been measured along with an alternate view of measurement cited in an Arizona State University study…


Nearly 90 firefighters fought the 3-alarm fire.

In Everett, Washington a 2015 New Year’s Eve apartment fire cost one citizen his life and injured many others. The fire in this unsprinklered apartment building moved so quickly that families were forced to drop their children from third story windows to escape. The fire department effected numerous rescues and contained the fire to one building, which was a total loss. Currently we will report that incident as a single fatality and million dollar property loss, but using the ASU methodologies we could report it very differently:

• Value of Lives Saved
• Value of Jobs Saved
• Value of Property Saved (Adjacent buildings)
• Value of City, County, and State revenue saved

Public safety agencies need to begin to understand and report the economic impacts of their services. Not so much to impress the average citizen who just wants to feel secure, but to create understanding in those who work behind the curtain with us, and are forced to make tough choices about what does and does not get public funding.

You can read the full text of DeMarco’s platform here and then give any feedback you feel appropriate here.

The City of Everett will be dealing with the costs of funding public safety as the major part of its budget process over the next few years and as we follow these efforts, MyEverettNews.com will continue to try and bring you the various sides of the issues as best we can.


About My Everett News Staff

My Everett News is a hyperlocal news website featuring news and events in Everett, Washington. We also cover City of Everett information and items of interest to those who live, work, and play in Everett.

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