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Davis City, University Fire Departments Merger Met With Criticism

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DAVIS (CBS13) – The two fire departments in the city of Davis share much of the same coverage area, but a decision to merge the two is coming with criticism and concern.

The move is supposed to save money, but firefighters in the college town say it’s a bad idea.

They are there when you need them; but the way fire and EMS services are run in Davis is about to change.

“We’re providing the identical, exact same type of service,” said Davis City Manager Steve Pinkerton. “We’re still there servicing the public.”

Pinkerton says it only makes sense that management of both the UC Davis Fire Department and the city’s fire department will merge. Both will share a chief and other assistant management.

“We essentially share the same service area for our fire departments; so, we are essentially on the same calls as it is,” said Pinkerton.

It’s a way to save money and share costs, but at what price?

“It’s a great university. They have great firefighters, but the university’s business isn’t public safety. That’s the business of a city,” said Davis Fire Department Capt. Bobby Weist.

Weist is also union president for Friends of Davis Firefighters. He says Davis city firefighters are concerned about giving a school system financial stake in a city service.

“It just doesn’t make sense to us, and we’re looking for people who can lead this department further into the future,” said Weist.

However, Pinkerton disagrees.

“We don’t think the governmental entity difference makes any difference at all. We do lots of things with the university, as do many cities throughout the state,” he said.

As for Davis residents, they’re concern is service — period.

“The main thing is response time on emergencies. If there is coverage for the city, sufficient, then it should be done,” said one resident.

Both sides don’t anticipate a change in responding to an emergency.

“We don’t go into this business to not help people,” said Weist.

But how it will work out, we’ll just wait and see.

The agreement is set to take effect on Jan. 1.

The city manager says the move will save nearly $80,000 dollars in city money in the first year.

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