Macedonia -- City Council on Aug. 25 approved the hiring of six new full-time and one new part-time firefighters in an effort to ramp up staffing to begin covering Sagamore Hills and Northfield Center townships Sept. 15.
Eric Anderson, Jeff Tylicky, Matt Harmon, Brian Fleming, Joshua Sirk and Matthew Snowden were brought on to the department full-time while Phillip Isaac was added as a part-time firefighter. The new firefighters come from fire departments in Oakwood, Aurora, Russel, Warren and Concord. Tylicki and Isaac both worked at Northfield Center-Sagamore Hills Fire District.
Macedonia Fire Chief Tim Black said he would love to have all district firefighters apply and go through the city's civil service testing because they already have knowledge of the townships. While a $375,000-per-year deal for the city to cover Northfield Center was not inked by press time, Black said the department is preparing to hire even more firefighters to cover Northfield Center after an October civil service test is completed.
"We are giving a civil service test soon for three additional full-timers to handle Northfield Center," Black said. "Until we can get them on board, we will be utilizing our part-time staff."
Northfield Center Township Trustees met Aug. 24 with Black, Macedonia Law Director Mark Guidetti, and township attorney Mike Harvey to "fill in some of the holes" in the proposed contract between the city and Northfield Center.
Trustee Rich Reville told the News Leader contracting with the city is the best move for the township.
Reville said he feels the area has always needed to regionalize, and when Sagamore decided in March to leave the district in favor of a $750,000-per-year contract with Macedonia, Northfield Center Trustees looked at all the options.
"My concern is it would cost the township more money than what it did when we were in the district with Sagamore Hills," Reville said. "The Macedonia program is the best choice at this time, however we have not approved the contract yet due to attorneys finishing the contract."
Trustee Paul Buescher said he wanted to make sure the people understand the decision Trustees are making.
"We are giving up a great deal," he said. "We are giving up 100 years of tradition and 100 years of control over our fire department and now we are abdicating that to a neighboring community. Personally speaking I wanted to make sure the people understood the ramifications, the downside, the benefits, everything before we made that final move."
One question Trustees had was regarding the state of Ohio's "two in, two out rule" which Black explained exists for the safety of the firefighters.
He said that during an active fire there must be two firefighters working on the outside if there are two firefighters working inside a structure -- unless there is rescue involved, then the rule dissolves and one person can enter a structure alone and bring somebody out.
"In this context, where we have two people in the station, those two people are being backed up by two people in Sagamore and five in Macedonia -- eight during the day -- who are immediately on-station, and immediately en route."
Black said this arrangement is safe for everyone, as such automatic aid from neighboring fire stations has always been the area's backup plan. He said staffing would constantly be evaluated and discussed with an advisory board, to which Trustees will be appointed as a liaison.
"We can't predict everything that is going to happen," Black said. "All we can do is anticipate our average workload, and that is what we staff for: our average days."
Infrastructure was also a grey area in the contract, according to Buescher. Guidetti explained the definition of infrastructure was limited to the fire department building and equipment provided by the township.
The concern, according to Trustee John Romanik, was whose responsibility would it be to determine when infrastructure would need replaced. Guidetti said it would be the firefighters and the chief.
Black added the department would be coming up with a master plan so that the townships and city would know up front what might be needed. He assured the Trustees there would be "no surprises."
"Nothing is going to be sprung on anybody, that is what the advisory board is for," Black said.
Insurance concerns were discussed and the attorneys said the firefighters are city employees, therefore covered under the city's insurance
The equipment, which belongs to the township, will be covered by the township's insurance.
The meeting closed with Trustees saying they were ready to sign the five-year contract with Macedonia pending the alterations to the contract discussed during the meeting.
Reville complimented Black and Guidetti for their quick responses and willingness to answer questions during the negotiations.
Briana Barker: 330-541-9432