Bazetta Twp. cuts fire station hours to save money

Township voters will decide if they want to renew the fire levy and vote for a new 2-mill fire levy.



BAZETTA — The fire station on McCleary-Jacoby Road was closed Tuesday and will open Friday, because of a shortage of funds. And six part-time firefighters did not come to work Monday because they were laid off.

Fire Chief Clyde McKenzie said the fire department does not have the money to fully staff a second fire station or a part-time staff.

McKenzie said the fire department would be $33,000 short this year if the cuts weren’t made. The fire department’s 2007 budget is $93,000.

The firefighters work 24-hour shifts, immediately followed by 48 hours off.

The A-shift had four employees, the B-shift had three and the C-shift had four.

The McCleary-Jacoby station will be closed once every three days when the B-shift is on duty since it has the least number of people working it.

Those three firefighters will work the other shifts.

McKenzie said the cost of fuel and insurance has gone up, and he said the current budget doesn’t allow for the high prices.

One way to save money is to cut overtime hours. The base wage for a firefighter is $13.65 an hour.

He said it is hard to predict how much overtime the firefighters get. One week it could be 50 hours, while another week it could be nothing depending on if people call off sick and vacation days.

The firefighters will use any overtime hours as compensatory days.

“This is so we wouldn’t get a big hit in overtime cost,” he said.

What’s ahead

McKenzie is hoping this will change after November’s election.

“We have been meeting with our trustees since March knowing we have a money problem,” he said.

They agreed to place a new 2-mill, five-year operating levy on the November ballot on top of the 1.5-mill renewal levy.

These would raise $300,000 and $190,000, respectively.

The firefighters have begun a campaign group to show voters that this is an important issue.

“They understand where we are and what we need to do to solve this problem,” the chief said.

Bazetta Township has a little more than 6,000 residents.

The other fire station is located on Everett-Hull Road by the Trumbull County Fairgrounds.

McKenzie has been fire chief for fours years, and he said some firefighters in his department have been there for 20 years.

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