Following initial success in the trial merger between the Camas and Washougal fire departments, Camas Fire Chief Nick Swinhart is recommending the effort be extended and a formal exploration of the feasibility of establishing a regional fire authority be explored.
Swinhart said during last night’s City Council workshop that on Tuesday, Feb. 21 the council would have the opportunity to vote to extend the current trial merger effort by two years, and form a planning committee that would establish a vision, operational aspects and funding methodology for a fire authority proposal.
Work on the latter, he said, could take up to two years.
“It’s a lengthy process,” Swinhart said. “That is why we need the extension.”
Councilman Greg Anderson, who has been involved in other local attempts at fire department consolidations, said he wondered whether the two fire departments should just continue to focus on the trial merger, rather than jumping into pursuing a regional fire authority.
Swinhart said the positive results so far make this situation unique.
“We are dealing with a little bit of a different animal — hopefully,” he said.
Mayor Scott Higgins said the city wants to make sure the planning process is thorough.
“We won’t rush something that’s not ready and won’t be given the chance to succeed,” Higgins said.