The city of Ketchum wants public input on the future of fire and emergency medical services, and will host a workshop with the City Council on Wednesday, April 17.
The meeting will begin at 4 p.m. in the council chambers.
Before then, the council will hear a presentation from interim Fire Chief Tom Bowman on Monday, April 15, focusing on the future of fire and EMS in Ketchum and examining the possibility of unified fire and EMS in the northern Wood River Valley.
The city administration and the union local representing professional firefighters kicked off negotiations on a new contract April 3. Those negotiations continue with an open, public session at 10 a.m. Friday, April 12, in the council chambers.
“There’s this unknown out there,” Mayor Neil Bradshaw said April 3. “We’re in a period of flux. [The workshop is] open to the general public. Anyone and their dog can participate.”
The April 3 session featured negotiation over salaries, scheduling, the city’s contract with the Ketchum Rural Fire Protection District and the hiring of a permanent fire chief in Ketchum, among other issues.
In March, the City Council rejected a contract for services with the city of Sun Valley to have Sun Valley provide police, fire and emergency medical services in Ketchum.
On April 3, Ketchum City Attorney Bill Punkoney said that while the city administration does not have a plan to consolidate public safety in the north valley under consideration, that situation could change quickly.
“There’s a lot up in the air right now in terms of what this fire department looks like,” Punkoney said. “As of now, there are no concrete plans for a merger of any kind. That may arise in the future. It may look the same as it always has, it may look completely different.”
Ricky Walsh, who negotiated on the union’s behalf from the International Association of Fire Fighters, said they want to bring the Ketchum Fire Department’s salaries in line with Sun Valley’s and Wood River Fire & Rescue.
Bradshaw said the city administration wants the Ketchum Fire Department’s schedule to match Sun Valley’s. Sun Valley uses a 48-hours-on, 96-hours-off schedule, while Ketchum uses 24-hour shifts.
He said the city is serious about working to restore trust with the Ketchum Rural Fire District. The Fire District’s board of commissioners voted last month to cancel’s its agreement with Ketchum, triggering a 90-day termination period. The agreement is set to expire in late June, though Ketchum has asked to extend it until October.
“How do we restore confidence among our north county partners?” Bradshaw asked.
Walsh said the union was dedicated to crafting solutions.
“We want to be in those discussions,” he said. “This local is committed to actually coming up with solutions here.”