27 Lee County paramedics are now also on the job as firefighters. They spent several months training in the classroom and in the field before passing the state certification test.
It's good for the county. It puts more firefighters on the job, improving fire protection service for much of the county, without drastically increasing the burden on taxpayers. It could improve the ISO rating in parts of the county which could dramatically lower insurance rates for homeowners.
When this idea came up a few years ago, it didn't go over well. Paramedics balked at the thought of being forced to cross-train as firefighters.
This time, county leaders took it slow. They allowed paramedics to volunteer for the cross training and got a lot of input before consolidating the fire and EMS departments.
By most accounts, it's working out well thanks to how county leaders handled it and how dedicated county workers responded to the change.