May 10th, 2023
Town of Sahuarita enters contract to bridge fire coverage annexation gap
(Sahuarita, AZ) – The Town of Sahuarita has entered into a Fire and Emergency Services Agreement with Rural Metro Fire Department, Inc. for fire coverage beginning June 1, 2023, and lasting up to 18 months.
The contract outlines fire services to be rendered to Town of Sahuarita properties for $10,000/month fee. The 18-month timeline will account for the anticipated Green Valley Fire District’s annexation process to be concluded, one way or another, and will ensure that RM maintains a presence here in the community for the duration.
“Rural Metro and Green Valley Fire have a very collaborative, transparent working relationship,” said Shane Dille, Town Manager. “We anticipate a smooth transition of services when that time comes and can expect open dialogue throughout the process.”
In late fall of 2022, Rural Metro announced its corporate decision to eventually fade out the service currently offered to the northern part of Sahuarita, as subscription revenue has been on a steady decline in past years. What will follow is an annexation process led by the Green Valley Fire District.
Until that process is complete, there emerged a need to establish a continuation of services. The Town of Sahuarita as a property owner was not previously a subscriber to Rural Metro. Upon discovering this, a small task force, comprising Mayor Murphy, Councilmember Davis, Manager Dille, and Finance Director Mariotti, saw an opportunity to find a solution.
“We want to ensure our town-owned facilities, parks, and lands are protected as fire service providers change,” said Dille. “In entering this contract, we provide the platform for Rural Metro to hit their bottom line and stay present in the community until the annexation can come to fruition.”
The service agreement outlines different levels of support for the various properties owned by the Town and contains an incentive to keep Rural Metro present by detailing a time standard for responses. This will ensure that the department maintains a local presence.
“We are confident that this contract will meet the needs of the town as well as Rural Metro,” said Chief Karl Isselhard of RMFD during last night’s Town Council meeting. “The annexation process doesn’t happen overnight – it can be a yearlong process – and we are interested in supporting the continuation of service while that process is underway.”
“We support the Green Valley Fire District annexation and are united in our desire to ensure public safety in the best way possible,” said Isselhard.
You can read the FAQ about the fire coverage process and annexation transition here.
February 14th, 2023
Town of Sahuarita's approach to the fire coverage issue.
(Sahuarita, AZ) – The Town of Sahuarita has been made aware of Rural Metro's decision to eliminate fire and emergency response services to the northern area of the Town. In a letter from Rural Metro to their subscribers dated February 8, 2023, they explained the reason for the decision,"...the number of current subscribers does not provide the appropriate funding for the two fire stations currently serving your community." Media reports that Rural Metro was leaving the area because of an annexation effort by Green Valley Fire District were incorrect.
While the Town of Sahuarita is not statutorily required to be in the fire protection business, we are deeply concerned that businesses and residents in the north half of our community will be left unprotected in the near future. Because of this concern, the Town has entered into discussions with both Rural Metro and Green Valley Fire District in order to find a reasonable solution to this problem. The Town stands ready to act as an honest broker to ensure that our residents have the fire and emergency services needed to maintain public safety.
We will keep Town residents and other interested parties updated by posting on the Town of Sahuarita website and engaging in social media posts as we seek a resolution of this critical issue.
For more information read: Sahuarita Sun/Green Valley News Rural Metro Fire and the Green Valley Fire District.