By BOB OLIVER
Sunday Times Newspapers
MELVINDALE — The proposed merger of the fire departments in Melvindale and Dearborn may happen soon.
Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. held a briefing session April 8 with the Dearborn City Council to inform them that the merger plan is in the final stages of development.
“We met so we could discuss the progress made so far,” O’Reilly said. “We’re getting close to handing our plan over to the city councils so that they can meet independently and decide what is best for their communities.”
The comprehensive plan is expected to be presented to both the Melvindale and Dearborn city councils in the next few weeks and will include the final details of the merger and the costs and savings for each city.
O’Reilly said that the aim of the merger is to allow the city to cut overhead and operate more efficiently while still providing a high level of services to Dearborn.
Dearborn Fire Chief Joseph Murray said that the merger has been discussed for the last couple of years but talks have intensified over the last seven or eight months. He also said that the move makes sense.
“We do a lot of work together anyway,” Murray said. “So this would be a really good fit. It will benefit both cities operationally.”
The merger would bring the 13 Melvindale firefighters into the Dearborn Fire Department. Murray said that scenarios are being discussed about how they would enter in as DFD employees.
The Melvindale Fire Station at 3160 Oakwood would stay open and operational with the firefighters initially staying at that station. Murray said he eventually would like to see the new firefighters rotating between the stations.
“We want to make sure that everyone understands the city layout and the communities,” Murray said. “It really helps to have a thorough understanding of the city and rotating through the stations and their neighborhoods is something we have our current firefighters do.”
The DFD currently has 121 firefighters and four stations, including three on the east side of the city. Murray said the addition of the Melvindale station would provide quicker services to areas in the southwest corner of the city, especially near Snow Woods.
Fire chiefs for both cities said the merger would be good for the whole area.
“With the merger there will be better access to the equipment and personnel,” Melvindale Fire Chief Steven Densmore said. “We’ll have more people that will be working and able to handle emergencies in the area. The combined services will be really great. It’s win-win situation for both cities.”
Murray said that the location of the Melvindale station will benefit Dearborn.
“The proximity of the Melvindale station really makes this great for our city,” Murray said. “The primary and secondary responses by the emergency crews will certainly improve. I think that it will be helpful to have another rescue team in our department. The merger will benefit both cities from a cost and services provided standpoint.”
The International Association of Fire Fighters locals in each city, No. 412 in Dearborn and No. 1728 in Melvindale, have agreed to the proposed merger.