Fire Departments Discuss Merger

By: Sarah Batista
By: Sarah Batista

The Charlottesville and Albemarle county fire departments have worked together closely for over 30 years as part of a shared service agreement. Their close-knit relationship is what spawned the idea to officially join forces.

"We've had a very cooperative effort up until this point, and things have been working well, we just want to take it to the next level," said Charlottesville Fire Chief Dan Eggleston.

The next level would be to hire a consultant that could best determine the advantages and disadvantages of joining departments. One major issue is the merger’s impact on jobs.

"The population is increasing, demands for service are going up, so in essence I don't see any reduction in force, volunteer, or career," said Eggleston.

Charlottesville Fire Chief, Julian Taliaferro, says he's seen a lot of successful consolidations among other fire departments and thinks this merger would benefit both jurisdictions.

"By relocating existing resources, a lot of times you can make better use of them," said Taliaferro. " At the same time, you don't have to add additional staff, so there are some savings and also you can improve the service."

Some of those services include emergency response times, an area both departments think they could improve in. They say combining their resources could only enhance this area and others.

"I'd be very excited if it went through, I just think it's the way to operate fire services today anyway," said Taliaferro.

"We're close, we're very involved in the community, we're very much alike and I think it's just a good opportunity for us," said Eggleston.

It could be at least six more months before a final decision is made on the merger.

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