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East Pierce Fire and Rescue looking at merger with Edgewood, Milton
East Pierce Fire and Rescue Chief Jerry Thorson told the Bonney Lake City Council July 14 the district is taking the first steps toward merging with neighboring Pierce County Fire District 8, which serves Edgewood and Milton.
"We'll serve both agencies out of our command staff," Thorson said.
Fire District 8 (Edgewood Fire Deparment) and Milton Fire Deparment have been working under a operational arrangement since 2007. The agreement helped both departments offset costs and operate as one unit.
Thorson said Chief Ed Goodlet of Fire District 8 and Chief James Jaques of Milton Fire Department will be brought into the district's administrative team.
"We'll effectively run all three departments until we can have a vote of the public in the spring and fall of next year," Thorson explained. "We're striving for an effective date of the merger and annexation of Jan. 1, 2011."
He said the merger will bring additional revenue into the fire service and allow the district to staff a medic unit in Edgewood, providing emergency medical service and transportation to reduce out-of-service time to East Pierce.
Currently, Thorson said, East Pierce has medic units from Sumner and Bonney Lake providing aid on a regular basis in the Edgewood-Milton area.
"The merger will allow us to improve services to the Bonney Lake community," Thorson said. "We very excited about that."
Thorson said when both communities increase their rates to match East Pierce's rate, it would bring approximately $1.4 million more than what is being collected currently.
He said $1 million would be used for firefighters and paramedics and $400,000 would go toward staffing and other district costs.
Thorson said both agencies have excellent equipment.
"We're not taking resources from Bonney Lake to put up there," he assured.
This year, Fire District 18 estimates it will respond to between 1,000 and 1,110 calls.
The Milton Fire Department provides service to the town of Milton and part of King County.
In 2008, the Milton department responded to 1,206 emergency and service calls.
Thorson also noted that East Pierce has been providing assistance to Orting Valley Fire and Rescue to help run its fire department since June.
"We've had one of our assistant chiefs down there running their fire department," Thorson explained.
Orting Valley fire commissioners terminated Chief Randy Shelton July 9 after an investigation. Shelton had been placed on administrative leave May 26.
"We have not been involved with the investigation and do not care to be involved," Thorson stated. "We just want to help them out in their time of need."