Garfield County voters to decide fire department plan

The county could take over firefighting duties from the Pomeroy department under an annexation proposal.

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POMEROY -- A proposition to annex the city to be part of Garfield County Fire Protection District No. 17 would "get the city out of the firefighting business" according to Fire Chief Larry Bunch.

Bunch, like all other firefighting personnel, serves the city and county fire departments. There is one paid employee, a full-time Emergency Medical Service coordinator, 21 volunteer firefighters and 24 emergency medical technicians who serve both departments. Some firefighters are also EMTs.

The departments jointly own the fire station.

Residents would see no change in service, or any change in taxes if the annexation is approved by county voters, Bunch said.

The city is strapped for cash, and probably can't afford to replace aging pumpers, despite saving $140,000 over the last 20 years for equipment replacement, Bunch said.

By annexing into the county, the fire district would benefit more from tax revenue, and be in a better position to apply for grants, Bunch said.

The annexation would give fire fighters better coverage for structure fires in the county, by being able to use the city's equipment outside the city.

Bunch noted that when the city gave up its police department and contracted with Garfield County Sheriff's office several years ago, it was a successful move.

He predicts a fire department annexation would be equally successful.

"It's kind of a win-win for both the city and the fire district," Bunch said.

Voters in Pomeroy and the county both must approve the proposition for it to pass.

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