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Officials consider merging county, city fire departments

READ MORE: Officials consider merging county, city fire departments
WILMINGTON -- A key issue at Monday afternoon's New Hanover County Board of Commissioners meeting is the possible merger of city and county fire departments. Officials say right now a merger is nothing more than an idea. Commissioners were scheduled to begin discussing the idea just a few minutes ago, to see if it's worth moving forward. At this point merging the city and county fire departments is little more than county commissioner bill caster thinking out loud. New Hanover County Commissioner Bill Caster said, "This may after you study it may be too great a job or just may no even be necessarily to do. But we don't know that at this point so let's find out." His theory -- city and county fire departments would operate more efficiently if they came under one command. "I would just like to make sure it's a better system. More put in place in writing how we're going to handle and do this type of thing in the future," Caster said. One key issue is that the city of Wilmington's fire department is a class-2 fire insurance rating, meaning that department has far better resources than the rest of the county, which is class-5. Wilmington assistant fire Chief Ron Jordan says he's confident no one will allow the quality of the city's department to drop. Jordan said, "I wouldn't see us dropping our class-2 rating. I think maybe everything else may have to raise up." What that involves is one of many details that need to be examined. Jordan said, "For me to say it's all positive or it would be negative is purely premature at this point." Caster said, "There are a lot of unknowns, obviously, to be discussed here and the only way to resolve those is to sit down, bring them up, talk about them and see if there's any deal stoppers here that we can not move forward. If we can move forward, let's look at it talk about it." In addition to the Wilmington fire department, the county has seven others, two of which are volunteer. How all these different departments are going to come together is just one more important issue that officials will need to address.

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Reply to Mr. Simmons

Who cares if they are obese? As long as they can drag your sorry behind out of a burning house while risking their own life, what are you complaining about. Besides, do you honestly believe a fat firefighter's health insurance costs more than a fat secretary or a fat city attorney or a fat meter maid for that matter. Concerning your comment on bad public relations, you should be ashamed. These men and women go to work and risk their lives on a daily basis to protect you and all you can talk about is obesity. Thank you to all firefighters, paramedics and law enforcement officers for answering the call when sorry people like Mr. Simmons dials 911. (Even if you are obese) LOL

Reply to Mr. Simmons

Mr Simmons, It is sad commentary on adult life that you feel that the fire personnel sit around and get fat. Today's fire service does a GREAT DEAL more than you probably realize. The days of sitting around went out with the horses. Go to one of the fire stations and look for yourself at what they do on a daily basis. Training, maintenance on equipment, training, fire inspections and pre incident surveys on buildings before they possibly have a fire medical training and the list goes on and on. So, as they old saying goes, until you can walk in OUR shoes do not speak to what you do no know about.

then why the obesity?

With all due respect, If you guys are doing all that activity you claim you do, then why are so many of the WFD personnel grossly overweight? I'm not talking about the extra 15 or 20 lbs most of us walk around with. I see a number of guys on WFD that have to be pushing 30-50lbs or more overweight. It drives up the city's health insurance costs and it is also poor public relations.

fat Mr Perfect?

There are SO many fat prejudice people on this websites board. Man it must be so difficult for you all to be so darn perfect all the time. If your home catches fire and your kids trapped inside do you care if the man busting through the door is FAT??? You are a VERY shallow human "Rich Simmons" aka Richard Simmons (diet and exercise guru).

some facts

google "overweight firemen" and you have study after study, including articles by Firefighter unions saying this is a huge problem among firefighters everywhere not just WFD. The number 1 killer of Fire and rescue workers is not related to the danger of their work but is due to Heart attacks brought on by a poor diet and long periods of in-activity. I quote : "A study by the Applied Exercise Science Laboratory at Texas A&M University shows that overweight firemen are at very high risk for heart attacks primarily because they get little or no exercise while on duty and tend to consume foods poor in nutrition. Wade Womack, a faculty member in the Applied Exercise Science Laboratory at Texas A&M, charted 74 firefighters over a six-year period. His study, titled "Cardiovascular Risk Markers in Firefighters: A Longitudinal Study" published in Cardiovascular Reviews and Reports, shows that often firemen are overweight and have less-than-ideal cholesterol levels, both of which pose serious health problems. "It all comes down to one main point: firemen need to exercise more," says Womack. "When firemen do fight fires, it is work that is both very strenuous and stressful, and very physically exerting. Put it all together and the chances of a heart attack are high." end of quote. I would suggest that the city offer you guys a $$ incentive to get back in shape. I even have a spare exercise bike I would gladly donate to one of the firehouses to help you all out. As for me I jog 10k everyday and I am a perfect 6'2" 184lbs at 52 years old.

Mr Perfect

It's so nice that you are perfect. Maybe you should volunteer at a fire department and share your lifestyle choices with the members seems you are the perfect enlightened one. Share the perfectness that is you. I am sure they will overlook your self- righteousness.


Have you looked at your kids lately? How about your wife? How many mirrors does it take for you to get a full view of yourself. Seen your feet lately (not to mention other things...)? It is a fact that the WFD and the volunteers are very well trained in the areas of fire fighting, fire prevention, Haz-Mat response/remediation and accident EMT/ERT response. This training involves actual sceanarios as well as considerable classroom time. If obesity restricted any of the EMT/ERT daily activites, they would not be allowed to work. Physical requirements are a necessity and they must prove themselves regularly to remain active and functional. It behooves me as to why people get so far off track as to what this article is really about and then try to act as an "Armchair Expert" on issues they know nothing about. I encourage you to go through the qualification process just to BEGIN training as a firefighter EMT/ERT. I believe you would be very lucky to get through the 1st session of classroom time before you give up.

Thats right!

Simmons your exactly right! A few over weight firefighters are driving up the cities health insurance! HAHAHHAHA How Ignorant can one person be??



yes we have better equipment

Of course we have better rating and better equipment. It is the exorbitant CITY taxes help pay for. If the county wants what we have, then they need to charge for it, better budget their money, or stop fighting annexation. If the county thinks the grass is greener on the other side of the fence then they should consider help paying for that greener side!!


I DON'T WANT what you city folk can HAVE IT ALL...leave me out of the city because I don't want ANY part of it....

Fire Department Consolidation

Well, here we go again. There will be tempers flaring and departments feeling threatened by any merger issues. What has to be considered is what is the best economic route to maintain services and keep providing the citizens the services they deserve. In 1997 it came up and caused some major political issues as well as some tempers flaring. Now is the time to either do it or forget it. As Wilmington continues to annex, departments will continue to lose districts and terroritories. This cannot be helped as growth is going to occur. Fire departments have merged between city and county for many years in the country as well as here in North Carolina and in the longrun the benefit to the citizens has been positive. No one wants to lose a fire department, but now is the time while the economy is still moving and governments can afford to operate. Having been in the fire service for 35 years, this is not as bad as many feel it will be. While there will be some personnel who may or may not keep jobs, the future will more positive than can be seen right now. Don't knock it until you have tried it!

One glitch in your argument...

Consolidation has been proposed twice before (three times?) and the voters have given it a resounding "NO" vote. We have the City of Wilmington, and we have New Hanover County. The people who live in the county don't WANT to be annexed, incorporated, merged, or consolidated. Leave us alone!

There will be a donut shortage!

Yeah, Just what we need more, taxpayer supported hose-holders sitting on their rumps and getting obese.

And the Troll-O_Meter Reads...

The trusty troll-o-meter shows a big 9 on this post. You would have made the coveted 10 had the doughnut comment been original for this blog site. All the makings of a great troll: Hot Topic; Short and (ummm err) sweet; A below the belt insult. Hey, your a pretty good troll!


YOU SIR have most CERTAINLY never been a firefighter as your statement is just plain ignorant. As a 12 year veteran firefighter I can ASSURE you there are HUGE amounts of training going on daily. If you want a taste of what it is down to a volunteer station, ask them to pull out their pumper and HAND JACK a few hundred feet of 2.5"...then come back on here and let us know how that worked out for ya!

You sir, are a jerk!!!

I'm surprised for one, that the mediators on this site didn't reject your obvious display of ignorance and secondly that you don't have the prudent judgement it takes to write a coherent paragraph. Your disdain for the brave souls that fight fires in this county will hopefully get YOU a speedy response to YOUR emergency or fire when it occurs. You will need them becasue you don't have the God given sense to get your dog out of the house, much less your family, if you're lucky enough to still have one. Idiots such as you continue to roam this earth...and somehow you continue to flourish.


Leave the volunteers alone! Leave some tradition in this now yanktified town! (No offense to Tom "Yank" who has been a LONG time supporter of the VFD). Their track record is just as good as the city... If it aint broke.. Don't fix it! LERAVE THE TRADITION ALONE!

Merger of fire departments

I'm so happy I moved to Brunswick County.

Brunswick County

I too live in Brunswick county, served by a WONDERFUL volunteer fire department. Unfortuantly there will soon be a day that there are paid/professional fire fighters at ALL the county stations. The rapid growth in the county makes this an only option, unless you want Brunswick County Emergency services to take over the fire departments as well. I personally don't want the second option. I've first hand how well they handled the emergency communications radio systems, all that money wasted. Brunswick county will soon be facing the same problems as New Hanover, watch out.


There is such a difference in Brunswick County between the Professional/Vol and the Full Volunteer Departments. Something like NewHanover has now is what Brunwick County needs. City(controlled or supported) departments such as Leland, Oak Island, Tribeach, Shallotte, Ocean Isle Beach, Sunset Beach, and Calabash Fire Departments do a great job. Most are 24hrs coverage. Leland will be 24hr paid coverage in July, and I dont know about Tribeach. I assume they are 24/7 paid staff. But these departments have no need to be changed or taken over by the county. They already providing a high level of service. Without a doubt better service then you would get if the county was running the show. Departments such as Southport, Boiling Spring Lakes, Bolivia, Winnabow, Sunset Harbor, Supply, Civietown, Shallotte Point, Grissettown-Longwood, And Waccamaw Fire departments seem to always to struggle to respond to calls. It would be a LARGE benefit to the citizens living in those these areas for the county take over responsibility for there fire protection. Brunswick County should push this issue. It would only benefit those areas. For example..... When one department is on second or third dispatch for any call... thats unacceptable. Two departments have combined already just in a last ditch effort so someone is there to answer the calls. Now before a certain FD Captain and squad Ass Chief get on here and open there ignorant mouths let me explain. What I propose is NOT that the county comes in, takes over, changes the locks, and kicks the Volunteers out! Thats not it by any means. The county should take control of all the named departments that are struggling. Take responsibility for all the Apparatus(which was paid for with county funds to begin with), Take over building upkeep and provide paid staff for each station with career fire fighters. We would still need the Volunteers for the calls. Difference is that the county would take over the administration, paying of the bills and guarantee a engine rolling on first dispatch of a fire or wreck. Those 3 firefighters paid by the county can not fight a whole fire on there own. Volunteers would still be needed.

What part of "We don't want to merge" confuses you?

HOW many times did we vote on this, and HOW many times did the voters say "No?" So what the power-mad, big government fanciers couldn't accomplish at the polls, they are now trying in little dribs and drabs behind the voters' backs. Water and fire.... I think it's time for a recall election - throw them ALL out!