Fla. officials weigh merging fire departments

“If it improves the system and saves a dollar it will be better in my mind," Fire Chief Dan Booker said


By Lisa Huriash
Sun Sentinel

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. — In the latest proposal to overhaul emergency services, two Broward County cities are now considering merging their fire department with a larger agency.

The Margate-Coconut Creek Fire Rescue Department serves more than 116,000 people who live in those two cities. It is deciding whether to merge with the Coral Springs-Parkland Fire Department, fire officials said Monday.

"Right now we're looking at the feasibility of it to see if it makes sense," said Frank Babinec, the fire chief in Coral Springs.

It's the latest merger proposal to emerge from the cities. Earlier this month, the cities of Margate and Coconut Creek revealed they also are considering abandoning the county's 911 dispatch system in favor of Coral Springs' dispatch service.

Turning over fire and paramedic services would be a natural progression to make a switch along with the handling of 911 calls, said Margate-Coconut Creek Fire Rescue Chief Dan Booker. Coral Springs is evaluating the cost to run operations in two more cities.

"We're seeing if one department serving four cities is more cost effective," Booker said. "If it improves the system and saves a dollar it will be better in my mind."

If a deal is reached, Margate and Coconut Creek would keep ownership of the fire stations and the fire trucks and other equipment. The firefighters and paramedics would have a new employer. It would be the "same people responding to the calls," Booker said.

Copyright 2018 Sun Sentinel

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