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SK Fire wants in on merger discussions

Officials from Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue and Bremerton Fire Department are keeping an open mind when it comes to their ongoing merger feasibility study.

That study was recently expanded from two departments to three as to include South Kitsap Fire & Rescue in what CKFR Chief Ken Burdette calls “a study of cooperative relationships.”

“It’s expanding it to include a broader perspective,” he said. “In a lot of ways it just makes sense.”

He explained there are many areas in which the borders of the three departments meet.

“These three districts are probably more convoluted than most, there are places where we intertwine,” Burdette added.

The addition of SKFR will add about four to eight weeks to the six-month study which began in late January.

“The study is progressing and we’re making good progress,” Burdette said. “South Kitsap is an accredited department. There’s a huge amount of information already gathered. They’ve already done (the accreditation) so it makes it a little easier to start.”

Oregon-based Emergency Services Consulting inc. (ESCi) is conducting the study and is looking at all aspects of the three departments, not just whether or not it’s feasible for the three to completely merge.

“(ESCi) will come up with multiple recommendations,” Burdette said. “It could range from everyone (becoming) part of the same organization to sharing a computer system.”

Talk of involving SKFR is not new and has been a topic of discussion in the past.

“South Kitsap and Bremerton were having some discussion in regard to areas where they overlap,” Burdette said.

A couple of those areas include Rocky Point and Navy Yard City where SKFR serves as the primary responder.

Earlier this month, Bremerton City Council President Cecil McConnell sent a letter to CKFR’s Board of Commissioners requesting that SKFR be involved in the study.

“Given the existing jurisdictional boundaries it is obvious that it would be a tremendous oversight to exclude SKFR from such discussions,” he stated. “Bremerton Fire Department and SKFR administrations, the SKFR commissioners, and both bargaining units (IAFF locals 437 and 2876) agree that the study should be expanded to include SKFR.”

Any additional costs of expanding the study to include SKFR will be covered by that department. CKFR and BFD are splitting the initial study cost of $35,000.

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