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2 Wash. cities explore merging fire, EMS services

A single department would reduce costs and develop a streamlined approach to fire suppression, paramedic and disaster preparedness in both communities, officials say

By Erin Hart
The Daily World

ABERDEEN, Wash. — The cities of Aberdeen and Hoquiam will explore consolidating firefighting and paramedic services, Mayor Bill Simpson of Aberdeen said Wednesday night.

“In a phased approach, the intent would be to create a single department, reducing costs and developing a streamlined approach to fire suppression, paramedic and disaster preparedness to both communities,” a joint new release states.

The decision came after Hoquiam’s City Administrator Brian Shay and Finance Director Mike Folkers asked to meet with Aberdeen’s Finance Director Kathryn Skolrood and Fire Chief Tom Hubbard, Simpson said in his office before the Aberdeen City Council meeting.

Hoquiam Mayor Jack Durney and Simpson then met with firefighter union presidents from both cities, he added.

“A lot has changed recently and we are constantly looking at ways to deliver services more efficiently and effectively,” Durney said in the news release.

“Our fire departments already respond jointly and work well together. It’s a natural fit,” Simpson said.

“Our local looks forward to being involved in these discussions with the hopes of providing a safer, more efficient service to the communities we strive to protect. We … look for ways to adapt and improve what we do and look at this potential consolidation as a proactive step to help our individual organizations remain viable in the future,” said Aberdeen International Association of Fire Fighters President Dave Swinhart.

“We are excited to work on this together with Aberdeen as a way to potentially improve service to the citizens and create a more sustainable model for our agencies to continue to provide these services for generations to come,” said Hoquiam union president Doug Stankavich.

The Aberdeen Fire Department has an annual budget of $5.1 million with 37 employees and Hoquiam Fire Department has a budget of $2.8 million with 22 employees.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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