Nordonia Hills -- Area fire departments added new equipment and personnel and began working more closely together in 2013.
In June, Macedonia, Northfield Village and the Northfield Center-Sagamore Hills Fire District implemented automatic aid response to replace mutual aid response between the three departments. Under automatic aid, all three departments now automatically respond to a fire call in high occupancy areas regardless of which community the call came from.
Areas where automatic aid is initiated include the Cinemark movie theater in Macedonia, Northfield Park and the Hard Rock Rocksino and area schools and nursing homes.
With mutual aid assistance, the three departments would only respond to another department's call once that department arrived on scene and determined if assistance was needed.
"This is way beyond mutual aid," said Macedonia Fire Chief Tim Black. "When we're working together as one, we save money and better serve the communities."
Black said the automatic response initiative also helped his department earn a higher safety rating from the Insurance Service Office, which ranks 49,000 fire departments in the country.
On a safety rating scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the highest rating, Macedonia department went from a rank of 4 to 2 in December, which puts it in the top 32 departments out of the 2,800 in Ohio graded by ISO.
ISO ranks departments every 10 years and grades them based on their performance, speed, efficiency, training and supplies. Black said 10 percent of the grading is based on dispatch, 40 percent is based on the water system and 50 percent is based on the fire department's personnel and equipment.
For city businesses, the higher the department's ranking, the lower their insurance rates should be.
Despite Macedonia getting a rank that puts them in the top 800 departments graded by ISO, the village of Boston Heights decided in October to turn over fire and emergency medical protection to the Valley Fire District.
Macedonia had provided fire and emergency medical services to Boston Heights since 1996.
Due to staffing shortages, Boston Heights sought bids from Hudson, Macedonia and the Valley Fire District to take over the fire services and staff an ambulance at the village's newly expanded fire department 24-7.
The Valley Fire District was the only one to offer a bid to take over fire and emergency medical service. Black said he provided multiple bids that included stipulations that the district keep its personnel.
According to the contract between Boston Heights and Macedonia, the village was supposed to give the city 120 days notice before terminating the contract. Black said the village only gave the city a 30 days notice.
Black said the village and city's law departments are planning to come to a negotiation to compensate Macedonia for the money it will lose by Boston Heights terminating its contract early.
New equipment and personnel
In November, the Northfield Center-Sagamore Hills Fire District got a new ambulance, a 14-foot water rescue craft and automatic cardiopulmonary resuscitation machine.
The new ambulance, a 2013 Braun with a Dodge chassis, is the fourth in the department, the others being 2008, 2006 and 1999 models.
The department also received a LUCAS chest compression system, which the village also received in 2013.
The village also got a new F-150 pick-up truck to replace its 2000 Ford Explorer, replaced its hoses that were about 20 years old and got new power cots that automatically lift people from the ground. Northfield Village Fire Chief Jason Buss said the new cots will help prevent injuries his staff can sustain trying to lift the cots.
Buss was appointed acting fire chief in December 2012 after the village former chief, Gary Vojtush was fired. Buss was appointed full chief in March 2013.
Nordonia Hills departments hired a total of 32 new firefighters, 22 at the village, six in Fire District 27 and four in the city.
Buss said his department ended the year with 495 calls but expects that number to double with the Rocksino's opening. He said there have been 14 fire calls from the Hard Rock since Dec. 18.
While Fire District 27's call volume decreased from about 1,500 to 1,476, the city experienced a record breaking year, reaching a call volume of 1,541.