By Roger Ball
It appears the Arizona Fire & Medical Authority, headquartered in Sun City West, may soon add another department.
AFMA was created in 2017 by joining the North County Fire & Medical District with the Sun Lakes Fire District. The two operate together under a joint powers authority.
After a full year working together, AFMA leaders said other departments have approached them about joining in what they consider a successful operation.
Currently, the Sun Lakes Fire District is located in a tight suburban community southeast of Phoenix. It is surrounded by other departments and has no room to expand its tax base.
The Tonopah Fire District, located several miles west of the Valley, is spread over a large area and the district is made up of several pockets rather than one connected shape. Occasionally, it needs to provide service to areas not located within its district boundaries. It has a problem: not much growth potential.
In 2017 the Arizona Legislature revised the law regarding fire districts and encouraged them to explore mergers. The hope was merging would reduce operational redundancies and expenses.
Additionally, the merged districts would have more opportunity for financial growth.
The Sun Lakes and Tonopah district boards have voted to proceed with exploring the process of merging the two departments.
Each department will host public hearings Tuesday, Dec. 4, for residents to ask questions.
The Tonopah Fire District meeting is 10 a.m. at Fire Station 341, 36511 W. Salome Highway, Tonopah.
The Sun Lake Fire District meeting is at 2 p.m. at Fire Station 232, 25020 S. Alma School Road, Sun Lakes.