Assessing Feasibility of Improved Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Delivery System

The Client: City of Coconut Creek, Florida

The Project: Transitional Study for Fire and EMS Services

The Opportunity: Coconut Creek, the “Butterfly Capital of the World,” is a well-planned city with a unique environmental consciousness nestled between Miami and Palm Beach. Spotlighted as one of the “Best Cities to Live in America” by Money Magazine, Coconut Creek is home to 61,000 residents and supports a diverse, growing business community. Coconut Creek has been contracting for fire and EMS services with the city of Margate since 2004 but has continued to face escalating costs. The budget has increased 94 percent since the two cities began working together, with Coconut Creek paying more than 50 percent of the annual $22 million fire budget. In addition, the cities struggled over operational issues, with Coconut Creek noting a lack of call data sharing and slower-than-acceptable 911 call processing response times. Concerned by these escalating costs for fire and EMS services delivered through a decades-old interlocal agreement (ILA) with the neighboring City of Margate, the City of Coconut Creek sought an experienced partner to conduct a Transitional Study to assess the feasibility of a new, city-managed fire rescue department in the City of Coconut Creek. The City selected Public Consulting Group (PCG) to carry out the full scope of work based on the strength of its prior engagements with communities facing similar challenges. Backed by extensive experience, PCG’s Fire and EMS Team was well positioned to partner with Coconut Creek and lead its Transitional Study, which officially kicked off in December 2019.

The Solution: To ensure the City of Coconut Creek had a comprehensive understanding of the opportunities, challenges, costs, and other pertinent issues involved with establishing a city-managed fire rescue department, PCG employed a multi-pronged approach to conduct the study. PCG’s approach included:

  • Collecting and reviewing data (e.g., geographic mapping, billing, budget, dispatch, and other data) for fire and EMS services Coconut Creek delivered through the ILA. More than 60 documents were reviewed to inform the study, including data from Coconut Creek, Margate, the Margate-Coconut Creek Fire Rescue (MCFR) Department, Broward County, Coral Springs, and North Lauderdale.
  • Conducting extensive interviews with key stakeholders in Coconut Creek, Broward County, and the neighboring cities of Coral Springs and Margate.
  • Establishing service benchmarks and performance targets based on numerous national fire and EMS standards and best practices.
  • Developing response time performance and response coverage maps using GIS technology.
  • Completing a cost analysis to define recommendations for the City of Coconut Creek to maintain their own fire and EMS department by the start of fiscal year 2022.
  • Completing a five-year budget projection for the new Coconut Creek Fire Rescue Department.

This methodology enabled PCG to objectively assess the existing delivery system and determine if the City could feasibly establish—and more importantly, sustain—a new, cost-efficient fire and EMS delivery system that provides an equal or better level of service to the Coconut Creek community, compared to the current system.

The Result: Final recommendations were presented by PCG to the City of Coconut Creek on time and within budget. PCG’s report included considerations for start-up costs, implementation timeline, staffing, training, equipment and facility requirements, EMS dispatch services, incorporation of Margate/Coconut Creek ILA separation provisions, and other important information.

Based on the results of the study, PCG determined that the City of Coconut Creek could provide emergency medical and fire protection services at a cost equal to or lower than the existing delivery system. In agreement with PCG’s recommendations, Coconut Creek made the decision to invest in its own fire and EMS department and sought additional implementation support. The City benefits from already owning key infrastructure, including two fire stations and a fleet of fire trucks. Following the decision, the City of Coconut Creek performed its own financial analysis and it matched with the recommendations and analysis provided by PCG. This accuracy is a true testament to PCG’s extensive experience working with fire and EMS customers. PCG’s customer service–focused approached remains valuable as they continue to provide implementation support as the City looks to establish their City-run Fire and EMS facility by October 2021.

“PCG’s team of Public Safety Consultants provided a comprehensive analysis of the cost and implementation process for fire and EMS services, that helped our city officials reach a decision that was in the best interest of the residents and visitors to our City.”—Jeffery Gary, Fire Chief of Coconut Creek Fire-Rescue.

To learn more about PCG’s fire and EMS consulting services, including Transitional Studies like the one conducted for the City of Coconut Creek, contact us today at

To gain more information on Coconut Creek or learn about the current implementation status, please visit the links provided below.

Coconut Creek Fire-Rescue

Creek Publishes Fire Rescue Fact Sheet

Margate Commissioner Expresses Concern Over Fire-Rescue Split With Coconut Creek

Margate Works To Preserve Fire-Rescue Partnership With Coconut Creek

Coconut Creek Fire Rescue / Dispatch Implementation Update

Fire Rescue Department Implementation Plan Status Report January 31, 2021

Posted by Sarah Dicicco

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