WASHINGTON — Years of stalemated negotiations between the city of Washington and the board that oversees the Washington Fire Department have come to an end.

The City Council and board for the not-for-profit Fire Department have agreed to a three-year contract that went into effect Nov. 1 and will continue through Oct. 31, 2020.

Several six-month contract extensions were put into place over the past few years while negotiations between the two sides continued.

"Everyone involved thought the six-month extensions were getting old," said Washington Mayor Gary Manier, who negotiated the new contract from the city's perspective with Alderman Brian Butler, chair of the City Council's public safety committee.

"The healing process has begun. All the problems are in the past," Manier said. "We feel we have a good working relationship with the current fire board."

Regina Slonneger, who represents the Pleasant View Fire Protection District on the five-member fire board, is the board president.

"We're very happy to have a three-year contract," Slonneger said. "We've been trying to get a multi-year contract since Tim Gleason was the city administrator."

Gleason was city administrator for 2 1/2 years before leaving in March 2015 to become the city manager in Decatur.

The fire board's controversial decision in summer 2014 not to renew the contract of Fire Chief Mike Vaughn, who resigned in October 2014, ignited tensions between the city and fire board.

Vaughn was the Fire Department's first full-time fire chief. He was hired in 2008.

The biggest sticking point in contract negotiations between the city and fire board following Vaughn's departure was the city's representation on the board.

The city now has what it wants. The fire board will have two city-appointed members instead of one. The second city representative will be considered an at-large board member under the Fire Department's by-laws.

Future changes to the by-laws regarding the appointment, removal or number of board members must be approved by the City Council, and the City Council has the right to remove and replace its city representatives.

"The city has its second representative, but we're protected. The city doesn't have control over our board," Slonneger said.

In addition to Slonneger, the fire board consists of city representative Tom Berlett, Scott Weaver from the Central Fire Protection District, Kevin Bird from the Fire Department and at-large member Greg Longfellow.

After Longfellow's three-year term ends in 2018, the city will appoint someone to fill his spot.

"If Greg wants to continue serving, that would be fine," Manier said.

In exchange for the extra board member, the city has increased its contribution to the Fire Department's budget and will help pay for a new fire truck.

Payment from the city for services will be $618,000 for the first year of the contract, with 3 percent increases each of the next two years. The Fire Department had $1.45 million in revenue for its 2016-17 fiscal year that ended April 30 and expects the same this fiscal year.

The city will pay the Fire Department $1,432,632 for ambulance and emergency medical services and $477,544 for fire prevention and protection services over the term of the contract for a total of $1,910,176, an average of $636,725 per year.

The Fire Department received $625,000 from the city for services during the 2016-17 fiscal year.

Also as part of the new contract, the city will pay a portion of the purchase price of a new fire truck, specifically the lesser of half the price or $400,000.

"We feel 3 percent increases for services each year are fair," Manier said. "The Fire Department's cost of doing business is going up."

The number of calls to the Fire Department also is rising.

The Fire Department responded to 1,241 calls this year through October, a 10.6 percent increase from the same time period in 2016.

Most calls are for emergency medical services. For example, 109 of 130 calls in September and 95 of 125 calls in October were medical-related runs.

With the increased compensation from the city, Slonneger said, the Fire Department can move forward with hiring more personnel to handle the increased call load.

According to the Fire Department's website, the department has 25 volunteer paid on-call firefighters, along with seven full-time and 15 part-time emergency medical technicians. Some firefighters are also EMTs.

A full-time replacement for Vaughn hasn't been found. Randy Hurd is the interim fire chief.

Roger Traver was hired as the Fire Department's executive director of operations in 2016. One of Traver's major responsibilities has been to improve communications between the Fire Department and city.

Steve Stein can be reached at 686-3114 or stevestein21@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.