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Volunteer firefighters gather petition against merge plan

READ MORE: Volunteer firefighters gather petition against merge plan
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Volunteer firefighters in New Hanover County are fuming because the county may soon dissolve their stations. Firefighters have more than 500 signatures on a petition to try and stop the county from consolidating volunteer fire departments to make two districts in the county.

The volunteer fire departments would be run by the county fire department. The firefighters would become county volunteers, and there would be one chief each for the north and south districts.

County Manager Bruce Shell says it would cut down on response time, lower insurance rates for county residents and provide firefighters with better training, But volunteer firefighters are not happy about it.

"We're after to slow this process down, let the people have a say," Wrightsboro volunteer firefighter John Coleman said. "Regardless if you're for it or against it, let the taxpayers have a say in it, not a half a dozen people up there making a decision for 200,000."

County Commission Chair Jason Thompson says consolidating the fire departments would not cost taxpayers any extra each year, but volunteer firefighters are not buying that.

County commissioners tentatively plan to meet with the fire commissioners board at the end June to vote on the recommended merge.

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