HEMET (CBSLA.com) — The Hemet City Council met Tuesday night to discuss whether it should keep its own Fire Department or if it should disband the department in favor of county services.

Shortly after 11 p.m., the council voted to disband the fire department.

So many angry residents showed up for the meeting that the council had to move the meeting to the public library, as many people in the city of 78,000 consider the topic of tremendous importance.

“You know, the county might as well take us back to the county. Instead of calling it Hemet, we’ll just call it part of Riverside County,” resident Sandy Shirley said. “I’m mad.”

The 106-year-old Fire Department had its share of support at the meeting, with residents who were in favor of keeping the department wearing red.

“They do a fantastic job, and our City Council is not paying any attention to what the people want,” resident Jan Eischen said.

Hemet city leaders say they are looking at ways to save money and suggest letting a county-run agency may accomplish just that.

“The council is interested in proving the services and believe that can best be done with the county, and potentially at a lower cost,” City Manager Wally Hill said.

Union President Capt. Steve Sandefer, meanwhile, argues that the current city Fire Department is cheaper.

“The firefighters for Hemet think our department is the best, and we think our community stands behind us until they are through with us,” Sandefer said. “We’re going to keep fighting with our city leaders.”

It remains unclear what may become of the former firefighters’ jobs.


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