A little more than a month after the Camdenton City Fire Department and the Mid County Fire Protection District merged into one, the department has seen faster response times and improved functioning, according to Fire Chief Scott Frandsen.
The decision to merge the two fire departments was made by the Camdenton Board of Alderman to avoid duplicate services, which would save taxpayers money, and improve the functioning of the emergency service.
Frandsen says the results of merging are positive.
“The response times in the city, especially after hours on nights and weekends and evenings, it has gotten a lot better. They were saying that 7 to 10 response time prior to the merger and now we’ve got it back down to that 2 to 3 to 4-minute response time, depending on where in the city it is.”
The contract to merge the departments will cost the city of Camdenton an annual fee of around $300,000 for the next five years. This will be paid to the fire department for its services and it will allow it to retain the territory and personnel of Camdenton City Fire Department.
However, a 25 cent general operating levy failed by over 500 votes on Tuesday’s ballot. This would have paid for equipment and truck improvements, and additional personnel. The levy would have replaced the 25 cent debt levy that is ending on December 31, 2016.
The debt levy was paying back a $5 million bond that was issued in 2000 as a twenty year bond. However, Frandsen said the department refinanced in 2011 so that they could repay the bond by 2017.
Frandsen said the Board of Alderman and Fire Department are asking for the general operating levy to replace old equipment. The levy would be tax neutral, or in other words, would not require any additional funding.
Frandsen said the Board of Alderman will discuss further steps at their next meeting.
“I don’t see us doing anything in the short term,” Frandsen said. “We’ll evaluate our programs and services and look to the future, and what we can do at some point in the future, but right now that’s uncertain.”
The City of Camdenton has been talking about bringing the two fire departments together for 20 years, Frandsen said, but there weren’t any serious discussions about it until recently.
Frandsen said merging is more efficient because the two departments were less than a mile from each other in the same city, both used the same volunteers, and responded to the same calls and events.
“The personnel are working well together,” Frandsen said. “Our two groups of personnel worked together frequently anyway, so we knew each other.”