June 25, 2018
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Union mulls combining fire, ambulance departments

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

UNION, Maine — Selectmen will hold preliminary talks Tuesday on whether the fire and ambulance departments should be combined into one agency.

Town Manager Jay Feyler said the selectmen decided this would be the best time to look at whether it makes sense to combine the departments with the planned retirement in June of longtime Fire Chief Barry Norris.

Feyler said there are various scenarios on how the consolidation could occur if the town moved forward with the concept.

Elmer Savage, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said that the fire and ambulance crews were part of one department until there was a vote by the residents in the late 1980s or early 1990s to separate them. He said selectmen would likely ask for voter approval if a recommendation is made to combine them again.

“There are going to be changes,” Savage said, referring to Norris’ retirement. “So this would seem to be the time to talk about [a possible merger].”

He said anytime consolidation is looked at, there is a desire to find cost efficiencies and savings. He said any study would look at those possible savings.

The ambulance department has seven paramedics, six intermediate emergency medical technicians, 16 basic EMTs and seven drivers, according to the town’s website. The department responded to 510 calls last year, an increase of 100 from a year earlier.

The 2012-2013 ambulance budget is $176,000.

The fire department has 20 members and a 2012-2013 budget of $67,000.

Norris was out of town at a conference and could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Scot Sabins, director of the town EMS department, also could not be reached for comment Thursday morning.

The selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 30.

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