Sagamore Hills -- After an hour-long executive session Aug. 29, the Northfield Center Sagamore Hills Fire District Board unanimously authorized a motion to ask Macedonia to provide paramedics to fill vacant shifts at the department until it dissolves Sept. 14. The city will bill the fire district for the services.
Sagamore Hills Trustee Dave DePasquale called for the emergency meeting, citing staffing shortages due to the pending dissolution of the district.
"We need to discuss this and take action ASAP. We cannot go the next three weeks wondering who will cross their name off the schedule next," DePasquale wrote in an Aug. 27 email to district officials.
"This becomes not only a safety issue but a legal question as it relates to the 'Blue Flu'," he wrote. "These men who are now taking their names off the schedule are leaving us shorthanded. It is my understanding that the so called 'Blue Flu' by safety forces/first responders is illegal in the state of Ohio."
NCSHFD Fire Chief Frank Risko told the News Leader Aug. 29 that "any staffing problems we had, we covered and no calls were missed."
Risko said he doesn't feel that firefighters are intentionally leaving the district short-handed, adding he believes there is an unspoken agreement amongst the firefighters that they won't leave until the district is dissolved.
"Nobody is walking out and saying 'To heck with it, I quit,'" Risko said.
However, DePasquale told the News Leader there was no paramedic on duty Aug. 27 and the district was short staffed until 3 p.m. on Aug. 28.
"That is unacceptable to me; you can't run a place with one guy or without a paramedic," DePasquale said. "I want to make sure our residents have coverage so I have asked Macedonia to bring in guys to staff our station."
DePasquale proposed firefighters from Macedonia work from the Northfield Center fire station on Route 82 instead of responding via mutual aid from the city. The substation in Sagamore Hills Township Park is not expected to be completed for a couple more weeks.
Macedonia Mayor Joe Migliorini told the News Leader Aug. 29 the city is willing to staff the district, and said doing so won't affect the contract in place with Sagamore Hills, which will not begin until Sept. 15.
"We certainly aren't going to leave anybody in a situation where they are not covered, so if they need the coverage we will be there to help the communities get through this process."
DePasquale said Brecksville was contacted for mutual aid once over the weekend and Migliorini confirmed Macedonia also responded to one call for the township last week.
Migliorini said that with the addition of six new full-time firefighters Aug. 25, the city now has the staffing to be able to call people in and handle the additional calls.
Briana Barker: 330-541-9432