Changes in fire and emergency management services

To: UCSC Community

From: Jeff Trapp, UC Santa Cruz / City of Santa Cruz Fire Chief and Jean Marie Scott, associate vice chancellor Risk and Safety Services

We are pleased to inform the campus community of an agreement between UC Santa Cruz and the City of Santa Cruz for emergency fire services.

On Tuesday, June 24, the Santa Cruz City Council gave the city manager approval to execute a final fire services agreement with the campus. Beginning next week, July 1, the UC Santa Cruz Fire Department will be reorganized and fire suppression services for the campus will be consolidated with and provided by the City of Santa Cruz. Details of the change as announced by the university and city may be found here.

All emergency protocols will remain the same with respect to 9-1-1 services and the campus fire station will continue to be operated and staffed by Santa Cruz City fire personnel.

UC Santa Cruz has been one of only two UC campuses and one of only a few campuses across the country with a fire department. In September 2011, the city and campus collaborated to develop a shared management agreement for fire operations. Effective January 2012, both entities began sharing a fire chief, Jeff Trapp.

Both entities also began exploring additional fire consolidation opportunities and engaged Citygate Associates to conduct an in-depth feasibility analysis. Completed in spring 2013, the analysis revealed that a full consolidation would benefit the campus and the city.  Citygate outlined the challenges facing small fire departments with limited headquarters staffing. Such operations are fragile and difficult to sustain over time, as limited absences or turnover result in risk and reliance on overtime to ensure staffing ratios. In addition, fire services have become more specialized with increased safety requirements, adding pressure on small fire units.

As a result of the Citygate study, the campus and city began discussions to determine what a potential consolidation would look like. In the months that followed, additional consolidation efforts were undertaken as pilot studies to assess operational feasibility.  The largest was in January 2014, when the city and campus did a full personnel swap, with city employees assigned to the campus station and all campus fire personnel assigned to off-campus stations. Also during this time a UC Santa Cruz administrative team worked with city counterparts to develop a framework for a full consolidation.

Several services formerly under the UC Santa Cruz Fire Department will remain with the campus and be reassigned to Risk and Safety Services.  This unit will be called the Office of Emergency Services (OES) and report to the associate vice chancellor, Risk and Safety Services.  The new OES team will comprise Emergency Management, Business Continuity Planning, and the campus Fire Marshal.  The OES offices will be located in the Carriage House.

The city will maintain the same fire suppression services that were provided by our campus fire department. OES will continue to provide emergency preparedness and fire safety training. The emergency manager will be the campus internal contact for any service questions about city fire suppression services and will assist the campus community in ensuring the quality of emergency response.

This consolidation has been three years in the making and has required the engagement and expertise of countless individuals.  It has been a pleasure to work with city colleagues, and we look forward to collaborating in the future as we find new ways to partner. Thanks to the efforts of everyone in the UC Santa Cruz and City of Santa Cruz fire departments and OES, we anticipate a smooth implementation.