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A Hummel Report Investigation

All Coming Together

If you need a fire engine in Cumberland one of four separate fire departments in town could show up at your house.  That's about to change, as legislation passed at the 11th hour of this year's General Assembly session paves the way for a newly-created consolidated fire department. Jim Hummel finds there are some details in the plan that might serve as a model for other communities.

SCRIPT

If you need a fire engine in Cumberland one of four separate fire departments could show up at your house.
Cumberland, North Cumberland, Cumberland Hill, and Valley Falls - each responsible part of the town's 28 square miles.
Each has its own board of directors, its own chief and its own taxing authority. And right now they don't have anything to do with the town of Cumberland itself. Which means property owners get two separate tax bills every year.
But that's about to change.
McKee: ``We got one town, but we got four fire departments, four chiefs, four tax collectors, four deputies - in their minds it just was common sense.''
Mayor Dan McKee says voters in 2010 overwhelmingly said they wanted to have one merged department - whether it be under the town's wing or an independent entity.
McKee said he remembers gathering all of the fire departments after a big storm several years ago.
McKee: ``I had my fingers on the table like this and I started to count: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 - nine representatives from the fire department at a meeting at 2 o'clock in the afternoon talking about emergency management. And then after the meeting they all had to huddle to determine what frequency they were going to be on.''
There was pushback from some of the departments.

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