2008-04-26 / News

Location matters for Walnut Township fire/EMS response

By Charles Prince

MILLERSPORT - Location, location, location is a real estate axiom. It also determines the type of response to a fireor medical emergency at your home, school, church or place of business.

Fire and EMS services are dispatched by county 9-1-1 centers using run cards drawn up by local firechiefs. A March 25 house fireon Bickel Church Road demonstrated the disparity in response for Walnut Township residents.

That firewas called in by a motorist who said it was at the intersection of Bickel Church Road and Ohio 37. Bickel Church Road is the boundary between the primary service areas of the Millersport Fire Department and the Thurston-Walnut Township Fire Department as set by Walnut Township Trustees. Millersport has the north side and Thurston the south side. Bickel Church intersections are considered Thurston territory so the 9-1-1 Center brought up the Thurston run card for that area. For the first alarm, that run card dispatches four pieces of equipment from Thurston - an engine (E-621), a rescue (R-621), a tanker (T-621) and a medic (M-621) - and one engine from the Basil Joint Fire District's Baltimore station.

The home was actually on the north side of Bickel Church. If the address had been reported initially, the Millersport run card would have been used. It calls for nine pieces of equipment to be dispatched on the first alarm including three engines - E-631 (Millersport/Millersport station), E-632 (Millersport/FairfieldBeach station) and E-610 (Basil's Baltimore station); two rescues - R-631 (Millersport/Millersport station) and R-621 (Thurston); two tankers - T-621 (Thurston) and T-571 (Pleasant Township); and two medics - M-631 (Millersport/ MIllersport and M-632 (Millersport/ FairfieldBeach).

The call reporting the fire came in at 12:55 a.m. At that time, Millersport had two on-duty firefightersat the Millersport station; Basil had three on-duty at Baltimore, Pleasant Township had four on-duty at its station on Ohio 188 just south of Coonpath Road; and Thurston had some volunteers spending the night at their station. Thurston has three paid personnel from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily and Millersport's FairfieldBeach station has two paid personnel from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. That means four departments - Basil, Millersport/ Millersport, Pleasant Township and Thurston - could get at least one piece of equipment out of their station immediately.

Using the Thurston run card, that meant two pieces of equipment could respond immediately and that's what happened. Basil's engine (E-610) with 1,000 gallons of water was enroute at 12:59:16 a.m. and Thurston's rescue (R- 621) with 800 gallons of water was enroute at 1:00:39 a.m. All times are from the FairfieldCounty Sheriff's OfficeCommunications Bureau. Thurston arrived first at 1:06:31 a.m. with Basil arriving at 1:07:12. A Thurston officer also arrived in a personal vehicle. That meant just seven firefighterswith 1,800 gallons of water were available if a rescue was needed from a nearly fully engulfed home. Thankfully, the occupants had escaped and a rescue was unnecessary.

If the Millersport run card had been used, at least two more pieces of equipment (a Millersport engine and Pleasant Township tanker), assuming they weren't on other runs, would have arrived on the scene quickly. Instead of seven firefighters, there would have been 12 to 13 with more than 5,000 gallons of water. Personnel and water are critical for rescues and stopping flame spread.

Millersport - Engine 631 (Millersport/ Millersport) - first shows up on Thurston's run card for the south side of Bickel Church Road on the second alarm. It's medic - M-631 (Millersport/Millersport) - is dispatched on the third alarm. Nothing more from Millersport is dispatched even on the fourth and final alarm on the Thurston run card.

That night, according to the Thurston report, seven Thurston firefighters with a rescue and tanker were at the scene. That was two of the four pieces of equipment originally dispatched.

Millersport's on-station crew heard the initial dispatch and was waiting to be dispatched. They were then dispatched for a lift assist at another Bickel Church address. Millersport's dispatch tones woke Fire Chief Bill Yates and he heard radio traffic about the Bickel Church fire. He contacted dispatch to see why Millersport hadn't been sent there. Ultimately, two engines - E-631 Millersport/Millersport and E-632 Millersport/Fairfield Beach, one rescue - R-631 Millersport/ Millersport and one medic - M-631 Millersport/Millersport made it to the scene with 11 firefighters. Three pieces of equipment from Basil were on the scene - Engine 610 (Baltimore station), Ladder 610 (Baltimore station) and Tanker 611 (Stoudertown Road station) - with nine firefighters. Millersport's report listed a total of 17 apparatus with 51 firefighters at the scene. The home was a complete loss.

Thurston has broken its primary run area into five zones, according to Fire Chief Jim Hite. There are four quadrants plus the Village of Thurston. The northern boundary is the southern side of Bickel Church Road, the western boundary is the eastern side of Cherry Lane, the south is Pleasantville Road and the east is the Perry County line. Lake Road splits the territory east and west and Ohio 256 splits it north and south for the four quadrants.

Run cards can be complicated. Hite told The Beacon that the department has 26 different cards for each zone ranging from the common medic run and structure fireto a train derailment. We asked asked Hite and the Fairfield County Sheriff's OfficeCommunications Bureau for medic and structure firerun cards at several specific addresses. Each card lists a minimum of four alarms. Additional alarms are prompted if the first alarm equipment is tied up, doesn't respond, or more help is needed. The number of on-station personnel determines response time.

Most small town and rural departments can only afford and justify two to three people on-station. Millersport run cards take that into account, by drawing equipment from multiple departments. Thurston primarily relies on its own equipment and one or two other departments for its first alarm dispatches. Here are some Thurston run card examples:

Village of Thurston:

• Squad Run - 1st Alarm - Thurston Medic; 2nd Alarm - Basil (Baltimore station); 3rd Alarm - Pleasant Township; and 4th Alarm - Millersport (Millersport station).

• Structure Fire - 1st Alarm - Six pieces of equipment - four from Thurston, an engine from Pleasant Township and a ladder from Basil/Baltimore. A Millersport engine and medic are dispatched on the second alarm. No additional Millersport equipment is dispatched on a third or fourth alarm.

Bickel Church/Lake Road intersection:

• Squad Run - 1st Alarm - Thurston Medic; 2nd Alarm - Millersport Medic (Millersport station); 3rd Alarm - Millersport Medic (FairfieldBeach station); and 4th Alarm - Pleasant Township Medic.

• Structure Fire - 1st Alarm - Five pieces of equipment - four from Thurston and a Millersport engine (Millersport station); 2nd Alarm - six pieces of equipment including a Millersport Medic (Millersport station); 3rd Alarm - six more pieces of equipment, but nothing more from Millersport; and 4th Alarm - six more pieces of equipment including a Hebron rescue and a Licking Township (Licking County) tanker but nothing from either Millersport station.

Intersection of Ohio 256 and Ohio 37:

• Squad Run - 1st Alarm - Thurston Medic; 2nd Alarm - Basil (Baltimore station) Medic; 3rd Alarm - Millersport Medic (Millersport station); and 4th Alarm - Pleasant Township Medic.

• Structure Fire - 1st Alarm - same as the south side of Bickel Church with four pieces of Thurston equipment and a Basil engine from Baltimore station. Millersport provides an engine from Millersport station on 2nd Alarm and a medic from Millersport on the third alarm. Equipment from Buckeye Lake, Hebron, Licking Township and Richland Township are dispatched on the 3rd Alarm but nothing more from Millersport is sent, even on a 4th Alarm.

Intersection of Canal and Cattail roads

• Squad Run - 1st Alarm - Thurston Medic; 2nd Alarm - Millersport Medic (Millersport station); 3rd Alarm - Millersport Medic (FairfieldBeach station); and 4th Alarm - Pleasant Township Medic.

• Structure Fire - 1st Alarm - fivepieces equipment with four from Thurston and a Millersport engine from Millersport station; 2nd Alarm - six additional pieces of equipment including a Millersport Medic from Millersport station; 3rd Alarm - six more pieces of equipment but nothing from Millersport; and 4th Alarm - six more pieces of equipment including a Hebron rescue but nothing more from Millersport.

Walnut Township jointly owns the Thurston Walnut Township Fire Department with the Village of Thurston. Township taxpayers, including Thurston property owners, pay most of its costs. Thurston also has a small village firelevy.

All three Walnut Township Trustees live in the Millersport primary service area, so their run cards are set by the Millersport Fire Chief.

Sonny Dupler:

• Squad Run - 1st Alarm - Millersport Medic from Millersport station; 2nd Alarm - Millersport Medic from FairfieldBeach station; 3rd Alarm - Buckeye Lake Medic; and 4th Alarm - Thurston Medic.

• Structure Fire - 1st Alarm - nine pieces of equipment including two Millersport engines, two medics and a rescue (Millersport and FairfieldBeach stations), a Buckeye Lake engine, a Hebron rescue, a Basil ladder and a Thurston tanker; 2nd alarm - adds eight pieces of equipment including a Thurston engine, West Licking engine and ladder, a Basil engine and tanker and a Hebron medic; 3rd Alarm - six more pieces of equipment ; and 4th Alarm - six more pieces of equipment.

For a structure fireat Dupler's farm, unless equipment is tied up on other runs, at least four pieces of equipment - Millersport engine, Hebron rescue, Basil ladder and Thurston tanker - with 10-12 firefightersshould arrive quickly without having to wait for volunteers to respond. If it's during the day, the immediate response could also include a Buckeye Lake engine and the Millersport engine kept at FairfieldBeach.

Wally Gabriel:

• Squad Run - 1st Alarm - Millersport Medic from Millersport station; 2nd Alarm - Millersport Medic from FairfieldBeach station and Thurston Medic; 3rd Alarm - Basil Medic from Baltimore station; and 4th Alarm - Pleasant Township.

• Structure Fire - 1st Alarm - nine pieces of equipment including two Millersport engines, two medics and a rescue (Millersport and FairfieldBeach stations); a Thurston tanker and rescue; and a Basil engine and tanker; 2nd alarm - adds eight pieces of equipment including a Basil ladder, a Buckeye Lake engine, a Violet Township rescue and a Hebron medic; 3rd Alarm - seven more pieces of equipment including a Hebron engine; and 4th Alarm - six more pieces of equipment.

For a structure fireat Gabriel's farm, unless equipment is tied up on other runs, at least four pieces of equipment - Millersport engine, Basil engine and tanker and a Thurston tanker - with 10-12 firefightersshould arrive quickly without having to wait for volunteers. If the alarm is during the day, the immediate response would include an engine or medic from Millersport's FairfieldBeach station.

Ralph Zollinger:

• Squad Run - 1st Alarm - Millersport medics from Millersport and FairfieldBeach stations; 2nd Alarm - Thornville/Thorn Township medic; 3rd Alarm - Thurston medic; and 4th Alarm - Pleasant Township medic.

• Structure Fire - 1st Alarm - nine pieces of equipment including two Millersport engines, two medics and a rescue (Millersport and FairfieldBeach stations); a Thurston tanker; a Pleasant Township rescue; a Basil engine (Baltimore station); and a Thornville/Thorn Township tanker; 2nd Alarm - adds seven pieces of equipment including a Thurston engine, Buckeye Lake engine and medic and a Hebron rescue; 3rd Alarm - adds six more pieces of equipment including a Basil ladder and tanker, and a Hebron medic; and 4th Alarm- adds six more pieces of equipment including a Basil engine and West Licking rescue and ladder.

Like his fellow trustees, for a structure fireat Zollinger's farm, unless equipment is tied up on other runs, at least four pieces of equipment - Millersport engine, Thurston tanker, Pleasant Township rescue and a Basil engine - with 10-12 firefightersshould arrive quickly without having to wait for volunteers. Again, if it is during the day, a Millersport engine or medic from FairfieldBeach will also respond immediately.

Return to top