The Pasco County Commission has approved a merger between Pasco Fire Rescue and the Zephyrhills Fire Department.
The approval came on May 4, which followed the Zephyrhills City Council’s approval of the merger on April 27.
Pasco Fire Rescue Chief Scott Cassin outlined benefits of merging the departments.
The merger represents the end of an era for the Zephyrhills Fire Department, which has been in existence for more than 100 years. Negotiations to hammer out the terms of the deal took about 10 months.
The merger provides benefits for both the city and the county, Cassin said.
It will enable the county to respond more quickly to emergencies, since it will have two additional fire stations.
Those fire stations each will be equipped with ambulances, too, which the county will move from stations that have two, Cassin added.
The county will be acquiring all of the equipment currently at those stations, which includes a ladder truck, Cassin said.
That will give Pasco Fire Rescue greater capability in responding to high-rise firefighting on the east side of the county, Cassin said.
The merger also will create a unified dispatch for 911 calls. Currently the city has its own 911 center and handles its own calls.
Under the agreement, the two dozen full-time employees that are currently employed by the City of Zephyrhills will become county employees.
The cadet program established in Zephyrhills will continue, but will operate under the same umbrella as the county’s cadet program, which is in West Pasco, Cassin said.
Having both programs will minimize the drive time for some of the students that participate, he said.
The City of Zephyrhills also has a robust volunteer program. That program also will merge into the county and join the other four volunteer programs that already were in Pasco Fire Rescue, Cassin said.
The fire stations will be renamed from Station 1 and Station 2 to Station 25 and Station 29, he said.
Implementation of the agreement will be Sept. 27, according to documents approved on May 4.
At the same meeting, county commissioners approved an amendment to the county’s Municipal Service Taxing Unit boundaries for fire rescue services to include the City of Zephyrhills.
Commissioner Ron Oakley praised the county and the City of Zephyrhills for reaching an agreement.
“It’s a great thing. This is just an awesome move, I think, for the betterment of our community,” Oakley said.
Commissioner Jack Mariano agreed: “I really want to applaud the City of Zephyrhills for taking a look at what’s best for their taxpayers. It’s better for them, it’s better for the county — to work seamlessly together.
“It’s going to save everybody a lot of money, and give them better service,” Mariano said.
Published May 13, 2020