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East Pierce Fire and Rescue will not pursue merger with Fire District 18

East Pierce Fire and Rescue commissioners decided not to pursue plans to merge with Piece County Fire District 18 (Orting Valley Fire and Rescue) – at this time.

At the Sept. 1 meeting at Fire District 18 headquarters near Orting, East Pierce commissioners and Deputy Chief John McDonald presented their decision to the board.

Fire Commissioner Chair Rick Kuss read a letter that explained that East Pierce is currently working through the process of merging with Pierce County Fire District No. 8 (Edgewood) and the Milton Fire Department.

In addition, two members of the command staff are retiring – one in October and the other early next year, Kuss stated.

He added a five-year strategic planning process is placing heavy demands on East Pierce staff members

Kuss explained that the East Pierce board met in special session to consider the district’s request to merge and "how arduously" the board tried to find a solution. The board voted unanimously not to honor District 18’s request

Kuss noted that he abstained from voting on the issue due to a perceived conflict of interest regarding his employment with the city of Orting.

Under the current administrative oversight contract with District 18, East Pierce Assistant Chief Dave Wakefield has been serving as interim chief since May. The contract ends Sept. 30.

Kuss added the contract can be extended if another solution cannot be found right away.

Read full story in the Sept. 9 issue of the Courier-Herald.

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