Raytown rejects plan to merge fire and EMS services

The Raytown Fire Protection District apparently will not merge with the city’s ambulance service, despite the fire district’s desire to do so.

On Tuesday last week, Raytown Alderman Charlotte Melson, chairman of a discussion committee considering the merger, informed the district that the committee decided against the merger.

Raytown Fire Marshal Matt Mace said he was surprised by the abrupt decision.

“We found out Tuesday night on Facebook,” he said, adding that district officials had a meeting scheduled this week with the committee.

The fire district put together a 20-page proposal outlining the benefits of a merger. Those include the cross-training of employees and a potential savings of $2.6 million over 10 years.

Mace said the savings would come from the fire district’s ability to do both jobs with six fewer employees. Those positions would be eliminated through attrition, not layoffs or buyouts, he said.

Melson said her committee decided that the merger wasn’t necessary.

“We went through a lot of evaluation, a lot of questions to make sure we were making the best decision,” she said.

Furthermore, she said, if the two services were to merge, the medics would use the Kansas City Fire Department dispatch system. That means they could be called into Kansas City, which could lengthen response times in Raytown.

“They would be on call to go out of the city limits,” she said. “Our response rates are excellent, and since Raytown residents are provided excellent service, as well as good response times, we felt it was in our best interest, as residents, to retain our EMS service in the city.”

Mace disagreed.

“That’s not true,” he said. “She’s known that for months.”

In a letter dated Aug. 27, fire district President Robert Palmer assured Raytown Mayor David Bower that the ambulances would be left out of the mutual aid agreement with Kansas City.

Mace said he thinks the Board of Aldermen should vote on the consolidation, regardless of what Melson’s committee decided. He’s hoping the merger isn’t completely dead.

“All we’re asking now is put it before the council. Have a vote,” he said. “We’re still hopeful that they’ll come back to us. Our door is open.”