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Jefferson County continues fire-EMS merger debate


Jefferson County officials are still debating whether its emergency medical service and fire districts should merge.

A feasibility study was conducted by Matrix Consulting Group, indicating the merger would be beneficial for Jefferson County.

Jefferson County is the only one in Central Oregon with separate fire and ambulance districts. The merger would stabilize the response force by potentially adding more firefighters and EMS teams collectively.

Currently, EMS divisions are predominately volunteer-based, and the merger would allow those volunteers to receive firefighter training.

An official with Jefferson County Fire District No. 1 said Wednesday that the move would ensure a certain number of responders for each emergency.

” We never have a stable amount of volunteers ever available at one time, so we never know what we’re going to get, ” Fire Chief Brian Huff said.

” So providing paid staff for firefighting, EMS or both stabilizes that amount of people that you know is going to respond, plus you’re still going to ask for those volunteers and the students to go along with that. ”

But critics say they don’t believe merging is worth public funding and don’t want to see an increase in taxes.

Huff said he believes that in the long run, the district will need more money.

Jefferson County is currently working through data as to how much a merger would affect taxpayers.

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