Tallmadge fire department addressing recommended improvements

Krista S. Kano
Kent Weeklies

Tallmadge officials have prioritized a list of 21 recommended areas of improvement to the Fire Department and have already begun addressing several of the items. 

More:Tallmadge to prioritize fire department improvements

"Several have already been accomplished because they were relatively simple, like developing a policy," Director of Administration Don Cooper said. "Others will take years to accomplish, and others will require significant financial investment like hiring, promoting and changing contracts to address certain issues."

The recommendations come from the Ohio Fire Chiefs Association, who began a performance audit of the Tallmadge department in February 2020.

Tallmadge Chief Michael Passarelli requested the review to find efficiencies for residents who recently approved a tax increase, and to potentially lower the department's Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating, which could decrease the city's insurance costs. 

Currently, the top three priorities are (1) to enhance the department's training program, (2) transition part-time firefighters from six-hour shifts to 12-hour shifts and (3) to increase the daily minimum staffing level to eight personnel. 

To address Priority 1, the department has already established a training academy for new hires and anticipates that it will first be used in March. According to city documents, this will be "an ongoing improvement area."

Priority 2, which increases part-time shifts, is supported by the fire department administration but presents a contractual issue. The city and the part-time firefighters association have been in contract negotiations for several months. 

In addressing Priority 3 to increase staffing levels, the department administration has submitted a five-year plan to the mayor's office for discussion; however it would involve a budget request that is not currently in the 2021 city budget.

Cooper, Mayor David Kline, Passarelli and Assistant Chief Ben Stasik met multiple times to review and prioritize the recommendations, and Cooper told City Council in late January that the fire department would provide a monthly update on their progress. 

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