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Black Forest and Wescott fire departments

In February, the Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District Board of Directors announced it was in talks with the Wescott Fire Protection District to combine the two departments.The idea of merging the two adjoining fire districts is not a new one. A notice posted to the Black Forest fire department website dated February 2010 stated the boards of both districts were analyzing financial details of such a venture. The merger was also mentioned in a July 2013 Tri-Lakes Tribune interview with Bob Harvey, Black Forest fire chief.ìItís still an ongoing discussion at the chiefsí level,î Harvey said, adding that representatives from both boards are also involved in the discussions.Vinny Burns, fire chief of the Wescott district, said the merger has been discussed at two meetings over the past year, but he gave no timeline. Recent media coverage has given the impression that combining the districts is imminent, but Burns said, ìWeíre talking, but thatís it.îBurns said that even before the Black Forest fire, the two fire districts were working together to standardize training and responses. Operationally speaking, ìThereís not much that will need to be done when the time comes (for a merger),î he said.Harvey said the ìextremely strong working relationshipî between the two departments during the Black Forest fire proved that combining resources would improve services for both districts. ìI see this as nothing but positive for fire service delivery in the north end,î he said.

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