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County blesses fire department merger

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By Claude Lewis

BRONSON - A proposed fire merger between Bronson and Otter Creek took another step toward becoming reality Tuesday when the Levy Board of County Commissioners gave the plan its blessings.

The merger would stand to significantly upgrade protection in Otter Creek, a tiny community that has a station and some equipment but is lacking in manpower.

Bronson Fire Chief Rick Lombardo explained that the merger would provide quicker response in largely rural Otter Creek and lower property insurance rates, since it would improve its ISO rating.

With the merger, Bronson would take over the Otter Creek district. That would allow two part-time firefighters to be on call 24/7.

Lombardo said the merger already has the approval of the Fire Advisory Board and Otter Creek has approved the plan.

Bronson has yet to give its OK, but Lombardo said that Bronson first wanted to see the county support it.

The Bronson Fire Department has close to 20 volunteer firefighters on its force. The department is constantly trying to upgrade. It has a new quick-attack first-response truck and now has a thermal imaging camera. The department is hoping to move its office into the old Town Hall building.