HONOLULU (AP) - Nine years after the City Council killed a
proposal to merge the Honolulu Fire Department with the Emergency
Medical Services some city officials are considering whether to
revisit the idea.
"The time is right for us to start talking again," Fire Chief
Attilio Leonardi said Monday after a briefing before the City
Council's Budget Committee.
The issue of merging firefighter and ambulance and lifeguard
services has come up periodically in the past 35 years, Leonardi
noted, the last time in 1996 when the City Council killed a
proposed charter amendment approving the merger.
But several things have changed since then. Today, more
firefighters are being trained as emergency medical technicians and
the department is handling more medical calls.
In 1998, the fire department and Emergency Medical Services
signed an agreement that details when ambulance dispatchers request
firefighters to respond jointly to medical calls.
Dr. Elizabeth Char, the city's EMS director, said she has agreed
to consider a possible merger.
"We don't have a broken system now, so unless this new merger
or system can provide us a better service while upholding medical
care and saving the city money ... then it may be a good idea,"
Char told the council.
Information from: Honolulu Star-Bulletin,

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)