Leader appointed for Maui fire, ocean safety merge

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) - A 27-year-veteran of firefighting is being tasked with facilitating a merger between the Maui Fire Department and the county's Division of Ocean Safety.

Paia Fire Capt. Colin Yamamoto has been appointed to be the fire department's first battalion chief of ocean safety.

The merger was approved in the 2012 general election. There is no deadline set for the merger, but Maui Fire Chief Jeff Murray expects things to be in place by July 2015.

Murray tells the Maui News Yamamoto's appointment is a "first big step." Many other challenges remain to be ironed out including collective bargaining agreements, staffing disparities and training policies.

Yamamoto says in an email that being stationed along Maui's north shore has allowed him to work with ocean safety lifeguards.

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