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Shaker Residents Will Learn Results of UH Fire Merger Study on Oct. 15

The results will be discussed at a city council work session

The future of a possible fire department merger with University Heights will be revealed Oct. 15 at a city council work session.

Emergency Services Consulting International has spent months studying the viability of a merger between the two fire departments with stations located one mile away from one another. Shaker Heights and University Heights will each host sessions to hear the results of a Financial and Operational Analysis of Organizational Strategy Options report. The Shaker session begins at 5:30 p.m.

Officials from both cities said a merger could help save money, and a preliminary report from ESCI said both departments reported similar response times to resident calls.

"We don't see any significant differences — these two departments are actually performing very much in similarity to each other," ESCI Senior Vice President of Operations Philip Kouwe said at a May meeting. "The citizens of both communities have generally come to expect and experience a pretty similar level of service."

Questions regarding how much money could be saved or the possible consolidation of department structures and jobs won't be answered until the final report is released, Kouwe said.

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No public officials or residents at that meeting showed opposition to a potential merger. When Patch polled readers a month later, votes were split on whether a merger would make sense.

The study was funded by a $40,000 grant from the Cleveland Foundation, including $15,000 to be spent on the implementation of ESCI's suggestions. The cities agreed to split the remaining half based on population size. Under the agreement, Shaker will pay $17,000 and University Heights will pay $8,000.

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