New Hanover County Commissioners vote unanimously to merge firefighters
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NEW HANOVER COUNTY (WWAY) -- It was bad news for some volunteer fire fighters.

"We want to serve, but we want to as we do now," said Wrightsboro Volunteer Fire Department's Chief Mike Rose. "We want some say-so in the way that service is heading. Now, we're going to have to follow what county fire dictates the way it's going to be. Before we could hold their feet to the fire because we had our fire districts."

New Hanover County commissioners unanimously voted to consolidate the county's fire districts into two districts - north and south.

"It was a done deal," said Rose. "We knew it was going to happen since July 1st. We were trying to work this thing out. They had their mind made up to being with."

Some volunteers still do not see eye-to-eye on the decision saying the county is trying to take control of every aspect of the service and are doing it at tax payers' expense.

"Regardless of whether or not we do this consolidation, it's going to be more expensive in the future to provide fire protection so yes they're assumption of it's going to cost more is true," said Fire Chief Donnie Hall of New Hanover County. "It will cost more but this consolidation is not going to in effect make the price of providing fire protection more expensive."

Some volunteers also say the consolidation will ruin the deep rooted tradition in our county. They say something you can't put a price on.
The county insists this decision puts everything on the same page, while maintaining tradition.

"Obviously, with a consolidated fire system we will be able to focus on a countywide fire service from a consistency level," said Hall. "Countywide that's not taking anything away from the tradition or heritage, that's been provided here for many, many years."

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I am a career fire fighter as well as a volunteer for my community. I had the privolige to volunteer at Wrightsboro Vol. Fire Dept. under Chief Rhodes. I thank everyone there and the expiriences i have gain from this station is troumendous from the career staff and the Volunteer officers. At the time a gentle man named frank Meyers was the career capt. there he thaught me more about the fire service then i ever thought I would have learned as well as the career fire fighters there i worked along side them many of days. On the other side Chief Rhodes and all the other officers where just as important to me to continue on and advance in the field. By being both i see pros and cons and i know the feelings there. New Hanover made great strides when everything was standurdized acroos the board from turnout gear to trucks. Know everything is one department where do the volunteers have a say in what is best for there area. the needs of wrightsboro and Castle Haynes in much different then Carolina beach. having caeer staff does hurt the volunteer aspect because people say why get up and go sit at the station when the truck is already gone. On the other side when people are working with out the career staff you may not get anyone. Once again pros and cons but there has to be checks and balance and the consildation eliminates that and i think thats what the command staff was after from the get go. To all my fellow brothers i thank everyone career and volunteer for the hard work put forth. I hope this will not hurt the community because of this, thats what its about forget the political battle and service the community thats where it counts.

Maybe it is time for the uthinkable to happen-CONSOLIDATION!!! How many years now has it been discussed and cussed? I can understand how those who have given many countless years and loss of family time to volunteer their services to the community.
However, it is becoming a known fact that people can no longer devote time to be a volunteer in many situations and since many departments are training their fire personnel more and more, many people do not want to commit the time.
Wake up New Hanover, time for Wilmington and New Hanover to consolidate the emergency services and save some monies in the long run. Otherwise, the fight will go on.

This is the best move the county has made in recent years. I understand the volunteers view, I was a volunteer for years, but this change will increase response time, that to me is worth the change.

Isn't it better to decrease response time? Less time to get to a fire, the better the outcome for victims.

Yes you are correct I meant to say "reducing response times"

Chief Rose, thank you, your department and ALL affected by this political power grab for the dedicated service given to your respective communities.

Chief Hall's platitudes ring hollow. There has been a loss of tradition and heritage, make no mistake about it. County has usurped the tradition of service and has appropriated the heritage of self governance.

First, Chief "Rose" is actually Chief Rhodes. And as you say, thank you to all of the volunteers whom have served this county. I have been one myself. What you and the general public do not realize is that for almost 14 years now, there have been paid, CAREER firefighters serving alongside the volunteer firefighters in this county. Most of the time, the majority of the firefighters you see coming off the fire trucks that arrive at your emergency are actually New Hanover County CAREER firefighters who have been stationed in the volunteer fire stations and ride on trucks that sport the volunteer fire station's patch and name. Also, all of the newer fire apparatus you see, although it has the volunteer fire station's patch on the door, is OWNED by New Hanover County Fire Department.

Now, this post is not aimed at belittling the volunteers, like I said, I am one. It is however aimed at the naive public who make uneducated comments in posts like this that serves no better purpose than to stir up a situation which is already at its boiling point.

The County should do a better job educating the public about the services it provides and where the funding comes from, especially the fire service.

At a time when the county says it has no money, how can they vote to pay out $250,000.00. The $250,000.00 could have gone along way on projects that need the money. I can't understand how you (New Hanover County Commissioners) can vote to spend that kind of money after saying you need to raise taxes to pay county bills. See you Election Day. Tax and Spend will come to an end!

You state, "The $250,000.00 could have gone along way on projects that need the money." Actually, the money will come directly from the county fire district tax fund which is a completely separate fund and can ONLY be used for fire district business. So, it could NOT have gone to other "projects." As far as your "Tax and Spend" comment, the people in the un-incorporate areas of the county who pay the "fire tax" which funds the fire district are getting a bargain and the fire tax is very responsibly managed. Next time you want to spew your political propaganda, do your homework.