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Meeting planned on possible merger

April 22, 2001

Meeting planned on possible merger



By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

kimy@herald-mail.com

SHARPSBURG - Sharpsburg firefighters are expected to meet next week to determine if members still are interested in merging the company with Sharpsburg Area Emergency Medical Services.

A meeting is set for 7 p.m. May 1 at the station fire hall and the company's more than 40 members are invited to attend, said Assistant Chief Dave Myers. Fire and ambulance company officials have been considering a merger, but they fear such a union would decrease their individual cash allotments from Washington County.

More than a year ago, the companies talked of merging, but abandoned the idea after a financial consultant said it wasn't feasible if it meant losing the $40,000 given to each company by the county government.

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The deterioration of Sharpsburg Fire Department's station and the need to expand the Sharpsburg Area Emergency Medical Services' station has forced the issue once again, firefighters said.

If the fire company's membership votes against the union, Sharpsburg Vol. Fire Co., will pursue renovating or adding on to their present building, he said.

But if firefighters still want to merge, a meeting will be set up with the ambulance company, he said.

"It's a slow process," said Myers.

Officials from the ambulance company have said merging makes sense because it will save the companies money on utilities and improve fund-raising efforts.

Both companies have formed committees to discuss plans for a merger. If they do merge, they will need to decide whether to build a new station to house both companies, or add on to Sharpsburg ambulance company's building.

Also to be decided is whether the companies will retain their autonomy or be run by one set of officers.

There is also the issue of paid employees. The fire company has no paid personnel but the ambulance company has one full-time paramedic and 16 part-time paid paramedics.

Many of the members of both companies have cross-training in fire and medical skills so they would be able to assist each other on calls.

Sharpsburg Ambulance Co. spokesman Tim Gargana couldn't be reached Sunday evening.

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