2008-05-31 / News

No plans for Union Township Fire Department

By Scott Rawdon

HEBRON - Hebron Mayor Clifford Mason said he and Union Township Trustee President John Slater had a "heart to heart" talk about the trustees' plans for local fireprotection to clear up any rumors that the trustees intended to create an independent township firedepartment. Mason said he came away from the conversation feeling confidentthe trustees have no plans to do so.

"Our concern is the duplication of services," said Mason. Currently, Union Township contracts with Hebron, Granville Township, and Buckeye Lake Village for fireprotection and emergency services. "We have a great thing going for the people of Hebron and Union Township," he said.

Trustees said they were shocked late last year when the Granville Township Fire Department asked for more money to serve the portion of Union Township north of the CSX railway. Union Township paid the department $18,000 in 2007. The request was prompted by the department's takeover by Granville Township and it's change to 24/7 on-station staffing and a full-time chief. Previously, the department had relied heavily on volunteers with limited on-station staffing.Union Township and the department ultimately settled on a $50,000 payment for 2008, which was considerably less than the department originally sought.

Union Township then hired the Cincinnati based Kramer & Associates emergency services consulting company to help determine if there are any alternatives to paying Granville $50,000 per year. Any misunderstanding may have stemmed from a Kramer & Associates contract proposal, which states the firm's study will provide all of the budgetary and cost data necessary in the conversion of the fireand emergency services to a governmental (township) firerescue department in a new facility central to the township.

According to the proposal, the consultant will be available on a continuous basis to assist the township as it studies the steps needed to reorganize its own department to deliver protection to the community, including fireprevention, firefighting, hazardous material mitigation, and emergency medical services.

Slater said the township's intention is to explore creating a satellite firestation near the intersection of Blacks Road and Ohio 37. Trustees want to determine if a satellite station will improve response times enough to warrant the expense. As far as creating an independent Union Township Fire Department, "I don't see any practicality in that," said Slater. "I can't see how to justify another layer of administration." He said right now the township is "at the mercy of the consultant" to suggest the best course of action. Slater added that the trustees were aware that the Village of Hebron works with a fire and emergency services consultant, but, "I felt that everybody was busy enough" in the village and the township should hire its own consultant.

Mason said he supports the idea of a satellite firestation if it's proven to significantlyimprove response time. He does not support a Union Township fire department. "For them to consider that is cost prohibitive," said Mason, whose full-time job is firechief of Madison Township near Canal Winchester. He believes that a firedistrict, including Hebron, Union Township, and the Village of Buckeye Lake would best serve the township, including the village of Hebron.

According to the contract with Kramer & Associates, the consultant will not exceed approximately 15 hours per week for nine weeks or 135 hours at $90 per hour for a total of $12,150. Billable hours will include time in Union Township and research time at the Kramer & Associates officesin Cincinnati. Travel time between Union Township and Cincinnati will be billed at 50 percent. Expenses are not to exceed $2,000 for a maximum contract price of $14,150 unless increased by mutual agreement.

The trustees are considering purchase of approximately 13 acres of land at the southeast corner of the intersection of Blacks Road and Ohio 37. Eventually, they hope to build the satellite firestation, a township hall, and storage facilities on the property.

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