MILFORD — For the first time since water rescues became a part of their duties, the police and fire departments are looking to dock their emergency vessels at the same marina in Milford Harbor.

The proposed venture stems from a citywide initiative to save taxpayer money by increasing cooperation and reducing overlap between municipal agencies, Mayor James L. Richetelli Jr. said Wednesday.

A leading site for the new marine-rescue station is the Rogers Avenue branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, city officials said. The federally owned property is close to the mouth of the harbor and has available dock space.

Jim Hughes, an acting director at the NOAA's Milford office, said city officials approached his colleagues about a possible move recently. It remains unclear, however, whether a deal will be reached, he said.

"We have a good location," he said. "We would look forward to the extra security of having them here."

Firefighters and police officers regularly cooperate together during marine emergencies but have never docked their boats side by side long term, several retired and acting fire officials said.

The Fire Department berths Marine 1 at Port Milford during the summer. The Police Department typically has at least one rescue boat docked year-round at Milford Boat Works.

Richetelli said berthing costs at Port Milford and Milford Boat Works played no role in developing the new strategy. The city paid about $4,700 to dock Marine 1 at Port Milford last summer. Figures for Milford Boat Work's rental fees were unavailable Wednesday. "It is not so much that costs are escalating," Richetelli said. "It is the same we have always paid. It's that we are constantly challenging our departments to find less expensive ways to run their services."

Board of Fire Commissioners Chairman Phillip Ucci is hopeful a deal with the NOAA can be worked out.

"They have the room. The government owns the property," Ucci said. "Why not?"

Fire Chief Louis LaVecchia wants Marine 1 docked near the harbor's mouth, so firefighters can easily access Long Island Sound to reach stranded boaters. Officials ruled out Lisman Landing as a location because of its distance from the mouth of Milford Harbor.

"It is still in the early stages," LaVecchia said. "We are looking at sites."

Officer Vaughan Dumas, a Police Department spokesman, said marine units from both agencies work closely together. In the spring, divers from the fire and police departments began holding joint exercises, he said.

Greg Shulas, who covers Milford, can be reached at 878-2130.