Preble County fire departments announce merger into one district

A new fire district has been formed combining volunteer departments in southern Preble County.

On Tuesday, the West Elkton Gratis Township Fire Board announced the merger effective July 1 with the Village of Gratis, marking the beginning of a new era of unity and collaboration rebranding the department as the Shawnee Fire District.

The newly formed Shawnee Fire District will encompass the villages of Gratis and West Elkton Gratis Township, according to officials. Both the Gratis and West Elkton stations will remain operational.

Gratis Fire Chief Jeffrey King emphasized that despite the administrative adjustments, the teamwork and dedication of the volunteers, who have worked cohesively for years, will remain steadfast.

Reflecting on a history marked by jurisdictional disputes and disagreements, King said, “That chapter of our history is now behind us.”

The merger signifies a new beginning characterized by mutual cooperation, unity, and a shared commitment to serving the community, he said.

King, who has led the Gratis Fire Department for more than a decade and the West Elkton Gratis Township Fire District for the past two years, will continue as fire chief of the newly established district, according to officials.

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