Today's Question: Merging of Boone County Fire Protection District and the Columbia Fire Department

Wednesday, July 22, 2009 | 1:13 p.m. CDT

For more than 30 years, the Boone County Fire Protection District has provided emergency services for the county, while the Columbia Fire Department has responded to calls within the city. The terms of the old territorial agreement provided some exceptions in which the district still responded to areas annexed by the city.

As of March, the two organizations created a new agreement. Under the new agreement, the Fire Department responds to all calls within city limits, including annexed areas. Some areas are dubbed “automatic aid” areas, however, and receive assistance from the closest fire station. If that closest station is a Fire District station, the areas receive both city and county fire responses.

The Fire District will now receive less income from the city as a result of this new agreement, but does not expect any large financial impact. The district now finds itself with fewer calls to respond to, which Interim Fire Chief Scott Olsen said will reduce upkeep costs on their fleet and help to balance the loss of income.

With this new agreement, the Fire Department and the Fire District find themselves working together more than they have in the past. To make this cooperation easier, they have conducted joint training sessions, continued the standardization of equipment between the agencies and discussed the idea of joint purchasing of equipment to save money. The two agencies continue to grow closer, yet remain separate.

Should the Columbia Fire Department and the Boone County Fire Protection District merge into one entity?

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