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Sun Prairie Council votes to replace volunteer fire department

Published On: Jul 02 2013 10:24:47 PM CDT   Updated On: Jul 03 2013 06:22:53 AM CDT
sun prairie volunteer fire department
SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. -

The Sun Prairie Common Council on Tuesday decided to create a city-run fire department, ending a 122-year run with the local volunteer agency.

The 5-2 vote came after three hours of debate that got emotional at times. About 25 volunteer firefighters and more than 50 other people attended the meeting.

The meeting began with Mayor John Murray honoring several firefighters for their years of service, after which one firefighter tearfully thanked the council.

City leaders have said response times are slower with a volunteer department because it takes time to get to the station overnight or on weekends, when the station isn't staffed.

The council also voted to increase its federal SAFER grant request from $500,000 to $850,000, which would cover some costs of a city-run department.

Members did not vote on hiring a $46,000 transition consultant because they needed a sixth vote to amend the budget. Supporters say they will return to that issue in the future.

The volunteer firefighters' contract runs through the end of the year, although at least two council members conceded it would take longer than that to fully transition to a city-run department.

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