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Clackamas Fire should withdraw its unprofessional threat. Estacada Fire should follow suit by agreeing to study the benefits and pitfalls of a merger.

The Estacada Fire District should stand its ground against the heavy-handed tactics of the Clackamas Fire District, which is trying to force its agenda on its much smaller neighbor.

To catch you up, the Estacada Fire District pays $240,000 a year to Clackamas under a two-year-old intergovernmental agreement that makes training and additional resources available locally. But Clackamas is threatening to walk away from its agreement, in essence using the pact as leverage to force a study that would illuminate the pitfalls and benefits of merging the two districts.

In the event Clackamas makes good on its ill-conceived threat of pulling the plug on the agreement, the potential loss of training opportunities and the reduced level of response services would only serve to put people and property at greater risk.

From our vantage point, the Clackamas Fire District is attempting to blackmail the Estacada Fire District into participating with this study. That's unprofessional and it's an example of poor leadership.

Clackamas Fire needs to withdraw its threat, and pledge to work with Estacada Fire District toward an outcome that's beneficial to the communities they serve. Until Clackamas takes this action, Estacada should stand it's ground against this bully.

But having said that, the Estacada Fire District seems to be acting out the role of the proverbial ostrich that buries its head in the sand to avoid reality.

Assuming that Clackamas withdraws its threat, Estacada should agree to participate with this study.

A study is simply an attempt to gather information — pros and cons. Conducting a study does not guarantee anything will change.

At the end of that process — with the benefit of transparent information — the residents of Estacada Fire District would be in a better position to decide if a merger is warranted, or if they simply want to leave things the way they are.

We side with empowering voters to make informed choices. And we put the public-safety needs of the community well ahead of egos and agendas.

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