Friday, July 27, 2001

Firehouse merger talks OK'd




By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BELLEVUE — City Council voted Thursday night to open talks with council members in neighboring Dayton over a proposed merger of the two cities' fire departments.

        The Dayton council approved a similar move at a Wednesday night meeting, paving the way for joint meetings and eventually public hearings on a plan put forth by the fire chiefs of both cities.

        Bellevue Fire Chief John Daley and Dayton Fire Chief Dennis Lynn have said a merger into a single fire district, based at the Dayton firehouse, would save money while providing better overall fire and EMS protection for the two river cities.

        A study was conducted and a merger proposal drawn up by Brian Dehner of the Northern Kentucky Area Development District, working with both fire departments.

        Bellevue Councilman Tom Rechtin said he had some questions and problems relating to the report, including an indication that some response times could be longer under a merged department.

        “For much of the city (Bellevue), the response time will not change,” Chief Daley said. “In some instances, it might be 35 seconds more than it is now in some parts of the city. That is not going to make much difference. The hard fact is, very few people are rescued from burning buildings. Response time can be critical on EMS runs — but for structure fires, it's not going present any real problems.”

        If a merger is approved and a fire district is established, it would be run by a commission with its own budget, estimated in excess of $1 million annually and funded equally by both cities.

        Councilman Steve Guidugli said he had heard from some Bellevue volunteer firefighters that they were concerned the merger was an attempt to do away with the volunteers. He said he wanted to hear from more volunteer members of the department.

        “I think a public hearing is the proper place for volunteers and everyone else to make their feelings known,” Bellevue Mayor Jack Meyer said.

        Chief Daley said the proposed merger was not intended as a means to do away with volunteers of either department.

        “We will continue to need volunteer firefighters,” he said.

       



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