HFD and EMS in favor of proposed merger

Fire Chief Kenneth Silva
Fire Chief Kenneth Silva
Dr. James Ireland, Emergency Services Director
Dr. James Ireland, Emergency Services Director
Tulsi Gabbard, Honolulu City Councilmember
Tulsi Gabbard, Honolulu City Councilmember

By Mark Carpenter and Shawn Ching

HONOLULU ( HawaiiNewsNow) - Just a day after a report recommending the consolidation of emergency and fire units was released; talks began Tuesday to make the proposal a reality.

The Honolulu Fire Department and the Department of Emergency Services discussed the proposed merger with the City Council's Safety, Economic Development and Government Affairs Committee.

The report suggests that a merging of services would improve emergency services on Oahu, as well as overall efficiency, something both sides are excited about.

"If my mom that's 75 years old, if she needed medical care at 130 in the morning she doesn't care what uniform shows up all she cares is that somebody gets there fast and when they get there they are trained and I think an integrated model provides that for us," said Fire Chief Kenneth Silva.

Emergency Services Director Dr. James Ireland feels integration is a step in the right direction.

"This provides an opportunity to potentially for us provide better care in response times, number of units and personnel," said Ireland.

According to the study, emergency services paid nearly $5 million in overtime costs. If implemented, a merger could save the city over $10 million.

"One of the major forces behind this proposed merger is the opportunity to save money for the taxpayers," Councilmember Tulsi Gabbard said.

Chief Silva has been in favor of a merger since 2009 and if services are combined, he would like to see workers be able to move between agencies.

"There should be a crosswalk, if anybody was interested in going from one agency to another, they would be given priority," Silva said.

"By being under one department theres opportunities for you to do another job if that is your interest, if you wanted to be in public education, if you wanted to be an ocean safety lifeguard, the main thing is we don't water down any requirements for the jobs that we do."

There currently is no timetable set for the proposed merger; however, both HFD and EMS will be in discussion with Mayor Peter Carlisle in the next few weeks.

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