Port Royal, Beaufort fire services agreement to be voted on

emoody@beaufortgazette.comFebruary 13, 2013 

Port Royal Town officials are concerned about changes atop the Beaufort Fire Department in light of the retirement of Wendell Wilburn next week and the retirement of two other top Beaufort fire officials. The town has contracted with the city for its fire service since 1991. Seen here is the Port Royal Fire Station.

BOB SOFALY, THE BEAUFORT GAZETTE

Port Royal and Beaufort officials say a new agreement will clarify how the muncipalities share fire services going forward.

The Port Royal Town Council is expected to vote on the agreement with the city of Beaufort for fire protection services at its 6:30 p.m. Thursday meeting at Town Hall, 700 Paris Ave.

Officials have worked on the new agreement for more than a year. At one point, plans included consolidating buildings and equipment under the city of Beaufort and splitting costs so that Beaufort would pay 70 percent and Port Royal would pay 30 percent.

However, during a public meeting last summer, Port Royal officials balked at the possibility of losing control of their equipment and buildings.

The contract expected to be voted on Thursday is a compromise between that proposal and the agreement that has split costs and personnel between Beaufort and Port Royal for about two decades.

"(The new agreement) gives us a clear understanding of how we split costs, so that helps us and it helps them," Beaufort city manager Scott Dadson said.

The contract is pretty fair in terms of labor, and allows the city to provide additional training for firefighters, Port Royal town manager Van Willis said.

It also outlines how the municipalities would jointly purchase equipment or buildings in the future, if they decided that was mutually beneficial. Beaufort is planning for a new neighborhood fire station in the Mossy Oaks area. Officials had considered making it a joint headquarters for Port Royal and Beaufort fire departments, but chose not to take that step at this time.

For more on this story, check back with The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet and follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

Related content:

Beaufort, Port Royal councils work together on proposed fire department contract

Beaufort, Port Royal consider joint fire department headquarters, Feb. 21, 2011

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