Unification Fact and Fiction

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The City of Littleton is working towards unifying with South Metro Fire Rescue (SMFR) to provide affordable and effective fire services for the community. Unification is a complicated process, so it’s important to keep our facts straight. Read on to see what’s fact and what’s fiction about this process.

The Decision Process

Fiction: Littleton Fire Rescue is the only fire district joining SMFR.

Fact: Littleton Fire Rescue will be the third district in our area to join SMFR. In November 2017, the other partners of Littleton Fire Rescue (Littleton Fire Protection District and the Highlands Ranch Metro District) gave notice that they planned to terminate the existing agreement on December 31, 2018. As of January 1, 2019, these partners will be part of SMFR and the Littleton Fire Rescue partnership will no longer exist.

Fiction: Littleton City Council has only been working on this decision for a few months.

Fact: Studies around fire service options started in 2008, and the concept of unification with SMFR was introduced to Council in September 2016. Unification of dispatch service was approved in October 2017, and partners sent letters terminating the agreement in November 2017.

When these letters were received, the City accelerated the process of evaluating options to ensure that fire and emergency services are uninterrupted during the transition.

Fiction: Littleton City Council has been negotiating the agreement behind closed doors.

Fact: Unlike most Colorado cities, Littleton’s City Charter does not permit City Council to have closed sessions to provide instruction and guidance on negotiations. The public is welcome to attend all City Council meetings and sessions.

Department Options

Fiction: Littleton has never had a standalone fire service.

Fact: Here’s a good piece of trivia – Littleton had a volunteer fire service from 1890 to 1948, which was when the Littleton Fire Rescue partnership began. Under that partnership, fire service continued as a volunteer system until 1960.

Service Level & Costs

Fiction: Joining SMFR will increase my property taxes and decrease the level of fire protection service.

Fact: It’s true that property taxes will increase with this change (about $10 per month on a $370K home). However, citizens will receive a much higher level of service through SMFR.

SMFR is a nationally-accredited fire department with an Insurance Service Organization (ISO) rating of 1, which is the highest possible rating. Littleton Fire Rescue couldn’t meet the accreditation standards and currently has an ISO rating of 3. The higher ISO rating with SMFR could also lower home and business insurance costs.