Highland Beach Fire Rescue | Highland Beach Establishing Independent EMS & Fire Rescue
The City of Highland Beach began with a benign, yet impactful dispute related to water treatment. Recognizing their own need for internalized water treatment services and Boca Raton's then unwillingness to provide the aid needed, Highland Beach incorporated in 1949. In the years that followed, Highland Beach remained a pseudo-independent township, acting on its own accord while relying on the municipal services of its neighboring towns.
EFFICIENCY THROUGH CONSOLIDATION
While water treatment, city administration, and the police department have remained staples of Highland Beach's city services, the Fire Department and Emergency Medical teams that dispatch to Highland Beach are sourced from Delray Beach to the north. In spring 2021, the City of Delray Beach refused to renegotiate the terms of the service contract. In conjunction with key findings from third party feasibility analysis, the City of Highland Beach chose to act.
WHY HIGHLAND BEACH CHOSE TO ACT
Much like its 1949 incorporation, Highland Beach once again was compelled to take matters into its own hands. Highland Beach approached the table to work through their differences with the Delray Beach Fire Department. Despite good faith efforts, the writing was on the wall. Highland Beach is one of the wealthiest per-capita cities in the United States, with an average age of nearly 68. The city has the financial health, and aged citizenry that puts it squarely in position for a new Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services.
WHAT THE ANALYSIS SHOWED
The third-party feasibility analysis showed both financial and medical motivations to found its own Fire and Emergency Services. The study showed a number of key data points and inferences that spurred the action from the Highland Beach administration, including:
- Significant increases to costs were associated with pensions and personnel costs.
- Highland Beach pays $7,000 per service call.
- Highland Beach does not receive a backup ambulance from the Delray FD.
- Highland Beach could save $2 million on EMS and Fire Dept. costs.
- Response time could be significantly improved.
HIGHLAND BEACH MOVES FORWARD
On April 20th, 2021, the City of Highland Beach issued a 36-month termination notice to the City of Delray Beach. The city requested a vote for the authorization of up to $10 million dollars to prepare for the internalization of its fire station. The budget request includes the following key necessities to launch the Highland Beach Fire Department:
- Expand the existing fire station to accommodate new equipment, personnel, and vehicles.
- Outfit the team with the necessary personal equipment.
- Purchase an additional fire truck and ambulance.
- Hire a Fire Chief, firefighters, EMS, and support staff.
- Legal, licensing, and consulting.
HIGHLAND BEACH: FINANCIALLY (AND PHYSICALLY) HEALTHY
Unlike our shameless federal spending and ever-increasing national debt, the City of Highland Beach has a balanced budget and financial means to expand its municipal services without an increase in taxes to its citizens. Funds for the new Highland Beach Fire Department is planned for as part of its FY 2021-22 proposed budget of $20,569,777. The Town Commission has kept its budget tidy and balance sheet clean while it aims to further improve the city services offered to its mostly wealthy (and elderly) residents.
Citizens and administrators of this tiny seaside hovel are thrilled to gain another significant arm in its municipal cadre, furthering its severance from co-dependence on its neighbors - an effort that began with the very first vote in 1949.
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