Vote scheduled on fire merger

Camas, Washougal will say whether a trial will continue

By Ray Legendre, Columbian staff writer

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The Camas and Washougal city councils will decide this month whether to extend their existing fire department merger for two years, Camas Fire Chief Nick Swinhart said Friday.

Both councils will vote on the extension at their Feb. 21 regular council meeting. They will also decide at those meetings whether to form a regional fire authority planning commission, Swinhart said.

Camas and Washougal’s six-month temporary merger wraps this month, so the councils must act, Swinhart said. Both councils must support the merger extension and the commission’s formation for them to happen.

Camas and Washougal fire officials raved last month during separate presentations before the two councils about how the merger cut overtime costs, bolstered staffing in both departments and provided quicker service to east Clark County residents.

A two-year merger extension will provide more time to evaluate the feasibility of a regional fire authority, Swinhart said.

Swinhart plans to review the merger’s impact one more time with the Camas council during its Feb. 6 workshop. His Washougal counterpart, Fire Chief Ron Schumacher, will do the same at his city’s Feb. 13 workshop, Swinhart said.

Attempts to contact Schumacher, who was out of the office Friday, were unsuccessful.

Ray Legendre: 360-735-4517; http://facebook.com/raylegend;http://twitter.com/col_smallcities;ray.legendre@columbian.com.