Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fire Departments' Merger Moves Forward

As expected, Pittsburgh Council acted quickly in giving preliminary approval to an agreement between the city and its neighbor to the east, Wilkinsburg Borough, to merge their respective fire departments. The arrangement was officially announced Monday by Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Wilkinsburg officials but the deal had been in the works for more than a year.

Before giving tentative approval to the agreement, Council questioned Public Safety Director Michael Huss who said that Pittsburgh will hire the 25 Wilkinsburg firefighters if they wish to join the city's department. Huss said the city would keep open 1 of the 2 Wilkinsburg fire stations and that would lessen response time to calls from the Homewood and Swisshelm Park neighborhoods of the city.

The agreement, under which Wilkinsburg will pay Pittsburgh about $7.5 million through December 2015, has already been approved by Wilkinsburg Council and the city's Act 47 state oversight groups.
Huss did confirm to Pittsburgh Council that Wilkinsburg has approached city officials about a possible merger of police departments.

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