A new era of fire and emergency medical response begins Tuesday for Lakewood and University Place residents.
West Pierce Fire and Rescue begins operation as the Lakewood Fire District 2 dissolves and folds into the University Place Fire Department following voter approval of the merger earlier this month.
Officials from the cities and Pierce County will commemorate the merger during a celebration that begins at 10 a.m. Friday at the West Pierce fire headquarters, 3631 Drexler Drive West in University Place.
“It’s been a long process, but the nice thing is it’s been very smooth,” said Capt. Jenny Sharp, the department’s chief spokeswoman.
Saving money was the primary driver of the merger. Officials have planned for the changeover to be invisible to residents and there are no changes in service level. There will be a new logo on the fire trucks and new patch on firefighters’ uniforms.
Most of the department’s administration will be house at West Pierce fire headquarters with some managers at Lakewood’s former fire headquarters. They will move over when the University Place Police Department move out of the Drexler Drive location and across the street into new digs in the civic and library building, expected to occur by year’s end.
Former Lakewood fire chief Ken Sharp will lead the department, assisted by deputy chief Mitch Sagers, the chief of the former University Place Fire Department.
The department’s new Web site is www.westpierce.org, which is scheduled to go live today or Wednesday.
The phone number for Lakewood’s old fire headquarters will remain active and automatically forward to the West Pierce fire headquarters, which can be reached at 253-564-1623.