Cleveland firefighters vote down plan to merge with EMS

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland firefighters' union Local 93 has voted down the city's proposal to combine the city's Fire Department and EMS.

The city says it plans to review all options to achieve integration and improve service anyway.

The eventual goal of the mayor's plan is integrate the city's firefighting and medical emergency response system.

All members would be both paramedics and firefighters. That would take several more years. No present personnel would be forced to become both.

Ambulances are already stationed at firehouses and fire trucks now carry emergency medical equipment. Some administrative oversight and purchasing operations have already been combined.

But the firefighters' union approval would have helped keep the process moving forward.

Firefighters filed -- and then later withdrew -- a grievance against the proposed merger.

Most cities have combined departments. In Cleveland both firefighter rescue and EMS ambulances respond to calls.

Firefighters are likely to arrive first, but most firefighters are only EMTs. The city claims the new plan would mean a better managed, more efficient operation.

Before the vote no one was saying what would happen if the package was voted down. The vote was the result of long negotiations, and the city was so anxious about it passing, it declined to provide on-camera interviews for fear of being accused of trying to influence the outcome.


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