Woodbury Council Preview: Renewing Officer-Firefighter Program

The Woodbury City Council during Wednesday’s workshop is set to review several aspects of the Public Safety Department.

From cross trained cops/firefighters to an update of the city’s health and safety program, the Woodbury City Council on Wednesday is set to examine a number of initiatives within the Public Safety Department.

The council workshop will also include a discussion of the city’s Fire Relief Association and a five-year review of fire and EMS operations.


The city is looking at continuing a program that , and staff recommends adding another four of those officers in 2013.

Woodbury began the program in 2005, but it was halted in 2009 because of budget constraints. It costs $2,850 to cross train and equip a police officer as a firefighter, according to a council memo on the matter.

Such officers improve response times to fires, Public Safety Chief Lee Vague , as police are often first on the scene when a fire breaks out. Woodbury currently has nine cross-trained officers, and to staff the program 24 hours a day, it will need a total of 16.

Fire/EMS Review

The council reviews its fire/EMS departments every five years, and part of Wednesday’s discussion will center on sharing services with contiguous Cottage Grove.

Public safety accounts for 39 percent of general fund spending, and the hope is that sharing services could create cost efficiencies, according to a council memo.

Fire Relief Association

As part of an informational discussion, the city council will hear about retirement benefits available to paid-on-call firefighters, the budget question of increasing the annual pension amount, and options under evaluation by the Woodbury Fire Benefits Association regarding management of pension and retiree plan options.

Health and Safety Program

The council is also set to discuss workplace safety during the meeting. As part of the 2013 budget proposal, the health and safety budget will be transferred from Administration to Public Safety.

Check out a detailed report on Woodbury’s Health and Safety Program

The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the on Radio Drive. Find the full agenda on the city’s website.


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jm June 20, 2012 at 01:18 PM
As a new resident, this firefighter/police officer sounds interesting but who will protect my family if they are all at a burning house?
Andrea Peters June 20, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Chris, This sounds like a good program, but I wonder if the Public Safety Department is stretched to thin. Yesterday for instance, we had power outages, medical emergencies and fire emergencies...if the Police are doing medical and fire tasks...who's going to respond to crime? If I were a "bad guy" wouldn't Woodbury be a good place to target? One step further, if the Police are responding to a medical or fire issue and a call comes out for a missing child, assault, home invasion, armed bank/residential robbery, domestic assault, or witness of a drunk driver on our streets...do they leave the medical or fire call or is there an unnecessary delay to the call??? Does the City Council look at the timing of these calls? How many Police Officers are on duty at any given time? With today as the first day of summer, I know many people are going on summer vacation which begs this question again... How many Police Officers are working in our city? I sincerely appreciate the work the Police, Fire and Paramedics do here for all of our residents and businesses in our community, but are they spread too thin? Does the City Council expect too much of the men and women on our streets? How many Fire Fighters and Paramedics does Woodbury have? Chris you do a great job with your stories, but this article left me asking all of these questions. Please respond if you can!? Thank you, AP p.s. A very heartfelt thank you to all of the Public Safety Departments for everything you do!!!
Kris Janisch June 20, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Neighboring cities often help each other on calls in general AP. I know last summer there were two fires on the same day and the city alerted Lake Elmo and Cottage Grove that they'd be taxed should something else happen. I think there are about 65 sworn officers in the city; I assume the number on the streets is higher during "high crime" hours. Not sure on the number of firefighters/EMS. If you check out the council agenda I think there is some data in there about the police-to-population ratio that cities typically like to see. I think the main reason Woodbury cross-trains police as EMTs and firefighters is that they're simply first on the scene, for the most part. It's going to be a public safety-focused meeting tonight. And I could always use some company in the crowd!


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