Medina Township is considering a proposal that would close its fire department and allow the city of Medina to operate fire services, a move the mayor believes will save thousands.
It will also force at least 30 part-time firefighters to lose their jobs.
Under the proposal, the City of Medina would take over Medina Township’s fire service. Medina Township averages 600 calls a year, officials said.
Medina Mayor Dennis Hanwell said Medina would charge the township $230,000 yearly. Hanwell told News 5 that Medina Township spent $600,000 last year to operate the fire department.
However, a Medina Township fire captain believes the change would hurt resident safety by increasing response times.
“People will die. Period,” said Medina Township Fire Captain Mark Roberts. “And we’ve got a Board in here with a list of all the runs that we’ve made this year – the heart attack calls, the overdoses. All the things when we were there."
Roberts said the move will require Medina to cover an additional 25 square miles with less resources.
"We're not putting safety at risk, I wouldn't do it if I thought it was a safety concern," said Hanwell.
Roberts said he would like the township to hold a public forum on the issue he's trying to inform township residents about the proposal. A petition against the change is expected to be presented to trustees at their next meeting.
"I don't think anybody has been involved in this conversation. None of the residents. None of the business owners. We think nobody," Robert said.
Thirty-eight part-time firefighters would lose their jobs at Medina Township, said Roberts. Medina's Fire Chief Bob Painter said he would try to re-hire 12 to 15 of those firefighters back.
Next Monday, the City of Medina’s city council will vote on the proposal. Medina Township trustees will vote on Thursday.
On Friday, William Ostmann, chairman on the Medina Township Board of Trustees, released the following statement:
June 9, 2017
To the Residents of Medina Township:
Response to Mark Roberts, Medina Township Firefighter, statement made on Channel 5 that “people will die” if Township merges with City fire.
The contract with Medina City actually gives the residents of the Township better coverage. Medina Township Fire only has day time staffing. The contract will provide staffing from 8 am to midnight. A review of all calls for service by time of day, and by day of week has been reviewed. Staffing is determined by data analysis.
Mark Roberts, in his on camera interview, stated that all this was done in secret. Over the last year or so several options have been reviewed. The options included a new fire station, full-time staffing and a Fire District. All of these options have been discussed in regular open Trustees meetings.
On May 9, 2017, a workshop was held to look at a 5 year plan. A plan was presented by the Fire Department with no specific cost of the plan that included a new station, new fire truck, and full time staffing. At that time the additional revenue needed to support the plan would be at least 3 mils. A statement was made that a conversation on a fire district with the City was in progress and numbers should be available shortly.
Members of the Fire Department pushed for a decision so any levy request could make it on the November ballot.
Each Trustee met with Mayor Hanwell separately to talk about fire services.
The final analysis based on available information is that the contract with the City of Medina will save the Township $393,000.00 per year with more staffing hours.
Staffing level – City will increase from 3 to 4 staff members from 8a to 4p Monday through Friday (supplemented by full-time members Chief, Fire Marshall, and Captain). Second shift will increase from 4 to 6 staff members from 4p to midnight, with 3 at Nettleton Station and 3 at Fire Station One at East Reagan and North Huntington Streets.
This will allow the Township, instead of asking for an increase of 3 additional mils, to most likely be able to reduce the amount of millage that Township residents pay now, with more staffing.
Mark Roberts’s statement that 30 part-time firefighters will lose their jobs is not quite correct! Mayor Hanwell in his on camera interview stated 12 to 15 firefighters will be hired by the City to increase staffing. As a side note, Medina City pays a higher wage than the Township.
In a review of the current Medina Township firefighters a breakdown of the average numbers of hours per week is as follows:
24 hours per week=1 20 hours per week=4
16 hours per week=5 12 hours per week=2
8 hours per week=3 0-7 hours (less than 8 hours) =13
Did not work last 4 weeks = 13
While no one likes to eliminate jobs, as public officials we need to be good stewards of taxpayer’s money.
City will permit Medina Township firefighters to apply for positions with City Fire Department; must live within radius of station and pass requirements of City. Those that meet requirements and pass tests are paid a higher rate at City and have civil service protection.
City will take over all fire operations – hydrant flushing, plan review, call stat review, vehicle maintenance, etc.
Improved ISO rating for Township by contracting with City helps with residential and business insurance rates.
The ultimate goal in the future is to form a Fire District to better serve all of our community at a reasonable cost.
More effective and efficient use of staffing, stations and equipment to provide fire services to region.
We look forward to the future.
William (Bill) Ostmann, Chairman
Medina Township Board of Trustees