The fire department has an annual budget of $1.3 million.
SALEM -- A new fire district approved Thursday night by the Salem City Council also needs the approval of Perry Township trustees to become a reality.
Salem council voted unanimously and without debate at its meeting to create the new joint fire district.
The vote paves the way for the elimination of the Salem fire department, but no proposal to that effect was made Thursday night, Mayor Larry DeJane said.
Council is also negotiating a new three-year contract with firefighters as the result of a fact-finding report that was discussed in executive session.
"It could take a while for this [the new fire district] to happen," DeJane said. "The decision was just another step and now it falls into the hands of the township."
Perry Township officials could not be reached to comment about when they might take up the issue.
The new department would be run by a joint fire district board which would need to be created, DeJane said.
The decision comes after about a year of discussion, said Councilman Greg Oesch, who introduced the legislation.
"The biggest reason is financial," he said. "We can't continue on the course we're going. We've lost 640 manufacturing jobs in this area in the last 30 months."
The fire department has an annual budget of $1.3 million, of which $1.18 million covers salaries and benefits, Oesch said.
The fact-finding report that is part of new contract negotiations calls for the department's minimum staffing of four firefighters per shift to be maintained.
Fire Chief Walt Greenamyer could not be reached to comment.