Metro Councilman wants to merge local fire departments - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Metro Councilman wants to merge local fire departments

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Metro Councilman wants to combine all of Louisville's fire departments, but some suburban fire chiefs are against the move.

We've talked to several of them, including the one at Harrods Creek.

"The 17 districts sat down and we developed a plan, the plan consisted of what would one large fire department look like -- what would several fire departments look like," said Chief Kevin Tyler, Harrods Creek Fire Chief.

Chief Tyler is speaking on behalf of a larger group.

"Now, what I do as the...president of the Jefferson county fire association, is we speak with one voice," he said.

Tyler said the association has already looked into merging and determined it's not good for taxpayers. He says there's a discrepancy in the pay of suburban and city firefighters.

"So the big thing is going to be bringing the suburban fires up to the pay scale that the Louisville firefighters are now making."

"The point is they're all under different chiefs, if they run to one chief then you would have a better supervision of what was happening all over the county than one you do now," said Metro Councilman Dan Johnson.

Metro Councilman Dan Johnson is behind the drive to merge the departments.

We asked him if it is the best move for the city. "Sure it would, because the city doesn't go and watch houses burn to the ground," he said.

Johnson alleges that actually happened with a suburban fire department.

"I know one did last year, according to some people that I've talked to in two cases," said Johnson.

Kentucky lawmakers would have the final say, but Johnson knows the plan is unpopular with suburban chiefs.

"I believe that is what is going to be the problem is that people who are getting paid big fat salaries and not going to like it when their salaries are taken away," said Johnson.

Meanwhile, Tyler says the chiefs are disappointed that Johnson hasn't reached out to them.

"Like you approached us to get this interview, he should have approached us to sit down and talk and he could have talked with our executive board, we would have been more than happy to look at the pros and cons with him," he said.

The issue has been assigned to a Metro Council committee but it is still a long way from being sent to lawmakers in Frankfort.

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