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Seminole still in the running for Madeira Beach fire service

SEMINOLE — Despite objections from some Madeira Beach residents, Seminole plans to continue negotiating with that city about the possibility of taking over its fire station.

Madeira Beach is facing a budget shortfall and asked for a proposal to see if its $1.4 million fire and EMS budget could be reduced if Seminole took over the fire service. Since then, Madeira Beach also has asked for proposals from Pinellas Suncoast Fire & Rescue District and from Treasure Island.

Seminole is waiting for a response to its proposal.

About 100 Madeira Beach residents angrily objected to consolidation when the idea was broached during a council workshop earlier this month.

Seminole council members also were cautious about the proposal, wanting to be assured that there would be no cost to their taxpayers and that the city could opt out of the negotiations at any time.

City Manager Frank Edmunds assured them that both were true. Edmunds said the idea of taking over Madeira Beach's department is not farfetched. He showed a picture of the vehicles that had responded to a fire the week before in Madeira Beach. Three came from Seminole, one from Madeira Beach, one from Treasure Island and one from Pinellas Suncoast. The district chief in charge of fighting the blaze was from Seminole, he said.

Edmunds estimated that merging with Seminole could save Madeira Beach about $250,000 a year. Seminole would hire Madeira Beach's 12 firefighters, but its chief, fire inspector and clerical staff would not be guaranteed jobs. All those hired would be put on a one-year probation, as are all of Seminole's new employees.

Seminole fire Chief Dan Graves said that if the deal goes through, he does not plan to change the appearance of Madeira Beach's fire truck. It would still say "Madeira Beach" on the side.

Other details of the proposal:

•Madeira Beach would retain title to Fire Station 25 and be responsible for all upkeep, utilities and other such expenses.

•Madeira Beach would sign over the ownership of its fire truck to Seminole.

•Seminole will budget for the replacement of the 2004 engine. If the contract is not renewed, Seminole would give the title back to Madeira Beach and give the city any money saved for the engine's replacement.

Reach Anne Lindberg at alindberg@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8450.

Seminole still in the running for Madeira Beach fire service 06/13/09 [Last modified: Saturday, June 13, 2009 4:30am]

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