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Fire districts finally merge

Finally.

Fire District 12 (Chico) has gathered enough petitions to go ahead with the merger with Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue.

The district received word late last week the signature gathering efforts had gotten three fifths — a little more than 2,100 — votes to go ahead with the plan. It took the better part of a year to get the magic number and now the merger’s fate is up to the county’s boundary review board, which meets Nov. 20.

If approved, a 45-day waiting period would follow and the last volunteer district in the county would be no more. The Chico station would have 24-hour a day, seven day a week staffing.

“I’d like to thank the members of Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue who helped with the petition that came through and made this happen,” said District 12 commissioner chairman Bob Muhleman to the CKFR commissioners Monday, Oct. 28.

The merger is expected to be complete by Feb. 1, 2003.

“I believe all the hard things are all done,” he said.

This summer professional firefighters canvassed the district’s neighborhoods to get the stalled petition drive going. Petition cards were originally mailed out Jan. 10, but the response from voters was less than overwhelming.

Currently, District 12 contracts its advanced life support responses with CKFR. CKFR has four professional firefighters in a station within district 12. There is some question as to whether Station 64, which is currently volunteer will become staffed.

The District 12 commissioner board would join CKFR’s board and over the next few years would be whittled down from eight to five members.

District 1 merged with District 15 in 1999 to form Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue after voters approved the measure. District 12, in order to save taxpayer money elected to go with a petition drive.

“This is a momentous occasion,” said District 12 commissioner Bob Miller.

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