Tallmadge to prioritize fire department improvements

Krista S. Kano
Kent Weeklies

Tallmadge officials are prioritizing a list of 21 recommended improvements to the city's fire department following a review by the Ohio Fire Chiefs' Association.

Fire Chief Michael Passarelli, who comes from a business background, requested the performance audit, a common practice in the private sector, he said. 

"In business, they hire consultants to find efficiencies, and I thought that would apply here. We don't make widgets, but we provide a service and the taxpayers just gave a big load of money with the income tax. So how can we streamline our service, and use the money most efficiently on their behalf?" Passarelli said. 

Additionally, the department is up for another Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating in five years, which determines how much the city pays for insurance. 

"I'm probably going to be retired in two years, so I have time enough to implement these recommendations, get credit, and possibly, just possibly, reduce our rating from a 3 to a 2 and get a better insurance rate for our constituents here in Tallmadge," Passarelli said. 

Starting in February 2020, fire chiefs from large cities and small communities began interviewing various stakeholders to understand how the Tallmadge Fire Department operates and visited the firehouses to see them in action. 

They then formulated their observations and recommendations into an 80-page document consisting of 21 recommendations, including the establishment of various programs, changes to staffing, developing policies, and other office-related improvements. 

Passarelli, Mayor David Kline, Deputy Chief Ben Stasik and Director of Administration Donald Cooper are now prioritizing that list.

"I read the report and I think it's a thorough report with lots of detail and a good overview of the department," Ward 1 City Councilman Craig Sisak said. "I think if we could even address 50% of these opportunities, I think we'd be in a better position. I look forward to seeing the improvements and hearing the process of implementation." 

Passarelli anticipates discussing the report and the priorities at the next council meeting at 7 p.m. on Jan. 28, which can be viewed live on the city's Youtube channel. Residents may also sign up to join the Zoom meeting through the city's calendar, http://bit.ly/tcouncil01282021

Reporter Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, kkano@thebeaconjournal.com or on Twitter @KristaKanoABJ.