May 19, 2015

Two fire departments in tri-villages
are planning to consolidate


Plans are moving forward to consolidate operations of the two volunteer fire departments in Hatteras Island's  tri-villages, according to board members of the Salvo Volunteer Fire Department and the Chicamacomico Banks Fire Department.

Both stations will remain open but will operate under one set of guidelines and be governed by a single board of directors.

“Right now we have two separate stations and two boards of directors,” Salvo Board President C.A. Duke says. “We’ll still have two stations, but just one board of directors.

For more than 35 years the Salvo Volunteer Fire Department and the Chicamacomico Banks Fire Department have been serving the Tri-Villages on the north end of Hatteras Island. Salvo was first, established in 1967. Twelve years later, in 1979, Chicamacomico started responding to emergencies in Rodanthe and Waves.

Although functioning as separate fire departments, the two stations have a history of working closely together—a point Dare County Fire Marshal Steve Kovacs is quick to make.

“Any fire that occurs in the villages, both departments respond,” he said. “In some ways they’re already operating as one department.”

Talks have been ongoing for the past several months and some progress has been made, but there is still work to do.

“We’re looking at what the board makeup will be and some changes in the bylaws,” Alex Samofal, President of the Chicamacomico Fire Department Board of Directors said.

“We’ve had several meetings to look at the feasibility of this,” Kovacs adds.

Combining the two departments should result in faster response times and better use of equipment, a point Samofal stresses. “It will be more efficient having one board of directors,” he said.

To homeowners, however, the most noticeable effect may be a reduction in insurance rates.

“The big plus, especially for Salvo, is they should see savings on their insurance rates -- $50 to maybe several hundred dollars,” Kovacs said. “With both of them together, it will change the rating for Salvo.”

The integration of personnel, services and equipment may, over time, create the possibility of an even more favorable fire rating.

“Within a year, the new designated fire stations will get inspected, and that could affect everyone,” Kovacs said.

No change, however, is imminent. Duke and Samofal point out that with summer coming, board members are getting busier and it’s difficult to find the time to finalize the details. Nonetheless, the process is moving forward.

“It seems like a slow process, and it is,” Samofal said. “We want to make sure everybody’s on board, so nobody feels they’re being blindsided. It’s been very amicable. It’s open and it’s transparent and that’s the way it should be.”

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