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Atwater considering contract with Cal Fire for firefighting services

ATWATER — A plan to hire Cal Fire to fight city blazes will smolder while City Council members wait for the smoke to clear about the effects on the department.

State fire agency officials explained four proposals earlier this week during a City Council workshop that would let them run Atwater’s department.

Under any agreement, the city would retain some control, including staffing levels, buying equipment and the city's logo on engines. The current staff would be merged into the state agency.

Day-to-day functions, training and administration would be covered by Cal Fire under an annual contract.While there’s no pressure to sign a deal with the state agency, Cal Fire official Scott Dunlap said, he hopes the city makes a decision soon. “We’re not here to sell ourselves,” he told the City Council. “We only want to be here if you want us.”

The City Council is scheduled to learn more about the Fire Department’s short-term and longterm needs during a consultant’s presentation next month.

Read the full story in Friday's Merced Sun-Star.