Papillion-La Vista Fire Merger Making Significant Progress

Paul Gutierrez

LA VISTA (KPTM) - Inside La Vista Fire Station 1, its transformation is undeniable.

"We see the light at the end of the tunnel," said Bill Bowes, Papillion's fire chief.

About $30,000 in renovations later and there's a new kitchen, revamped work area and a pair of old offices that are getting converted into bedrooms.

"A little bit of fresh paint on the wall, new carpet on the floor and it's good to go," said Bowes.

As the improvements continue to take shape, Bowes is confident it will allow for quicker response times once work is complete. In August, his district voted in favor of a merger with La Vista's volunteer team. That changeover will officially take effect April 1st.

"Recognizing the need that we wanted to man the building 24 hours a day, there needed to be some changes here."

Other changes include parting ways with any excess equipment. Some utility trucks, for example, will get sold to smaller fire departments in need. Money collected will then get placed into a fund, so the merged fire department can dip into it whenever it needs new equipment in the future.

"It's nice because we can let the money sit for really any length of time. We don't have to spend it during any budget year."

Once the merger takes effect the more than 50 firefighters will be divided into three shifts as part of a single department.