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Short-term contract may help pave way to full merger.

Editor's note: A correction has been appended to the bottom of this story.

Washington County Fire District #2Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue could one day stretch far into Washington County’s rural farm country if an administrative contract with a rural department proves a good fit for both sides and blossoms into a merger.

TVF&R started providing administrative services to Washington County Fire District 2 on Sept. 1 after both districts’ boards of directors unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement.

Washington County Fire District 2 has stations in Midway south of Hillsboro and North Plains to the north, and shares borders with TVF&R.

In the past, District 2 has operated with its own chief and through other contracts, including a past agreement with the Hillsboro Fire Department.

Jim Stearns, an interim District 2 chief, suggested the rural district consider contracting with TVF&R, said Cassandra Ulven, a spokeswoman for TVF&R.

TVF&R was formed and then grew into one of Oregon’s largest fire agencies through the years by gradually joining forces with neighboring fire departments in stages similar to the agreement with District 2, Ulven said.

TVF&R already serves much of eastern Washington County and smaller parts of Clackamas and Multnomah counties.

For now, the contract simply pays TVF&R $6,000 per month to compensate it for providing administrative services to the district. TVF&R Chief Mike Duyck will serve as chief executive officer while one of his battalion chiefs will serve as a full-time administrator.

The contract will continue through June 30 but both boards already are discussing the possibility of expanding TVF&R’s oversight in the future.

While a merger is not on the table yet, if both boards in the future decide that a merger would be in their best interests, voters in the Washington County Fire District 2 service area still would have to approve the plan, Ulven said.

There have been 11 instances in TVF&R’s history where it merged with other fire departments and expanded into an area that now serves more than 450,000 residents, Ulven said. But it doesn’t always play out that way: an administrative contract with Oregon City lapsed with no such arrangement.

Even without the districts joining, creating an administrative relationship forms bonds between agencies that can help serve residents better, Ulven said.

“We are humbled by this opportunity to learn from and work alongside the dedicated men and women of Washington County Fire District 2,” Duyck said in a statement. “We have a rich tradition of partnerships like this and look forward to ways we can support the community of North Plains and residents of western Washington County.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the former chief who suggested District 2 consider contracting administrative services with TVF&R. This version has been corrected.

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