City might drop its fire department

By on September 9, 2014
Inland Empire Business News September 9th, 2014.002

Hemet may soon eliminate its 106-year-old fire department.

The City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a proposed five-year contract with the Riverside County Fire Department, which is part of the state Forestry and Fire Protection program, according to a report in The Press-Enterprise.

If passed, the city’s fire department would be shut down and the county would be responsible for fire and paramedic service in the city starting July 1.

The council is also scheduled to make its last, best and final offer to the Hemet Firefighters Association. A final settlement with the union must be reached before the city can switch to the county fire department, according to the report.

Council members last fall began pursuing a contract with the county, saying they want to find the best service for the lowest cost. City Manager Wally Hill has recommended approving the contract.

Hemet would pay the county $8.9 million during the first year of the contract for fire and paramedic services, plus another $2 million in miscellaneous costs. Union officials dispute those numbers and have vowed to fight to keep their department in place.

City administrators have said it will cost about $11 million to keep the city department, according to the report.