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Reopening of Boardman stations sparks debate



Published: Sat, January 16, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.

By ELISE FRANCO

efranco@vindy.com

The reopening of two satellite fire stations in the township prompted spirited debate among some residents at Monday’s township trustee meeting.

Though several folks were glad the stations on South Avenue and Shields Road at Lockwood Boulevard will now be staffed full time, they did voice concerns about a lack of manpower.

During the public-comment portion of Monday’s meeting, Fred Hoover of Centervale Avenue said he thinks it’s unsafe to run a fire truck with only two men on board, which is what is likely to happen at each of the satellite stations that reopened last week.

“The [previous] board passed a levy with the promise that laid-off firefighters and police officers would return to duty, but they failed to do so,” he said.

Township Administrator Jason Loree previously said the minimum number of firefighters on duty per shift is eight, putting four at the main station and two at each of the satellite stations. Loree said this is a stipulation in the firefighters’ union contract.

Hoover said he thinks putting only two firefighters on a truck is a disservice to the township. He used a Friday evening fire at a residence on Southwestern Run as an example. Boardman Fire Department called on Western Reserve Joint Fire District and Beaver Fire Department for assistance.

“Mutual-aid in this situation is not like mutual-aid in police operations,” Hoover said. He said the time lost getting the firefighters into their gear, onto the trucks and to the scene is valuable and could be avoided if all three Boardman stations were properly staffed.

Steven Hierro, a retired Boardman firefighter, said when he first joined the department in 1965, each truck was staffed with one person. He said that was not enough back then, and two per truck is not enough now.

“Three men on a truck is the bare minimum,” Hierro said. “The fire department is like insurance. You’ve got it, but you hope you never have to use it.”

Hierro said the department struggled for years to have two men on the trucks at the outlying stations.

“When these guys started going with three per truck out here, it was great,” he said. “That way, you’ve got two inside and one outside on the pump.”

Not everyone was in favor reopening the satellite stations, however, and felt the trucks should carry even fewer firefighters.

Edward Derose, of Amberwood Trail, said he doesn’t think there’s a need for three fire stations to be open in a community going through financial struggles.

“We need more police, not more fire[fighters],” he said. “We don’t even need that many people on those engines.”

Derose said the township should rehire the laid-off firefighters as policemen instead.

“Make policemen out of them,” he said. “That’s where they belong. We have to stop the crime.”

Hierro, visibly upset with Derose’s statements, said it’s difficult and dangerous for one firefighter to attempt a rescue on his own.

“It’s hell when you pull up to a fire and you don’t know what to do with only one man there.

That’s why we have three men on a truck, and to send a truck out with less is ridiculous.”

efranco@vindy.com


Comments

1DaveA(5 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

When I was hired as a firefighter in Boardman in 1963 we had only two firefighters at the #3 Station on Shields Rd and # 4 Station on South Ave. At times, I worked at the Shields Rd Station by myself.

At that time there was nothing south of the # 4 station, but look at but look at the growth in that area alone. I have to agree with Steve Hierro that 1 or 2 firefighters working # 3 and # 4 station was not enought back in in the late 60's it is not enought man power 45 years later.

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2mstng_sally(13 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

I agree - I hope he never needs to 'test' out the theory of no firestation, or limited firefighters. Maybe he should ride-along and see what happens first hand - and then think what if it were his house? But then again, thinking must be a novel concept on his part.....

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3steelers_fan(22 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

I would rather have 2 guys on a truck rather than no guys there in a truck. Most of the calls in Boardman are for medical help. I would rather have a shorter response time in a medical emergency and save a life, as opposed to possibly having a longer response time if the other 2 stations are closed. For that fire Friday night, that condo was destroyed and all 3 stations responded. If only 2 stations were open, with 3 guys on a truck, the result would still have been the same.

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4apollo(1227 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Simple solution, every employee takes a 20% cut in wages and benefits, that aligns them with the peer communities which is where their wages and benefits SHOULD be. Then with the saved money, increase manpower to correct levels. The fact is the employees are making $20,000 more than they should be making entirely due to past trustees using the inheritance tax windfalls for wages and benefits when they should have been using it for infrastructure and rainy days. They built in a wage and benefit costs that were based on one time revenues. Voodoo economics now coming home to roost. A 10% cut alone would save 1.5 million, enough to hire at least 15 people. The manpower shortage goes away.

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5theword(342 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Why did the fire union agree to only 2 men per truck? Is it because they got something in return like more wages?

If thats whats in the contract then stop crying and live with it....

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6apollo(1227 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Or maybe I can complain about the curb cuts 100 times huh Kim? Or post the links to spending of the former trustees?

The solution to the financial difficulties is simple as I've stated above. But, the trough feeders don't want to provide give backs, just suck more tax dollars from the citizens. They are already overpaid based on the inheritance monies.

When is your boy Calhoun going to do Smith's biding and put another tax issue on the ballot? Hard to do it in May along with the sales tax. November is a general election and that might mean too many voters to pass another tax. How about a "special" August one???

State control should be fun.

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7apollo(1227 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

See that Cleveland laid off 100 police and firemen too. They refused to take concessions. Do they read the paper at all and see the financial issues governments are dealing with? Either take concessions or deal with the less manpower. Your choice. We in the private sector are facing the shrinking wages and benefits and layoffs. You're not immune.

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8Millie(192 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Why is it always the police and fire or school bus drivers that are in the news for cuts? There has to be fat in the budget in other areas of administration and support services. Let everyone do more work and work a real 40 hour week, give up some paid holidays, excess overtime, and a few weeks of vacation, increase co-pays etc. I would imagine many of these full time jobs are actyally just an expanded part time position.

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9ytownbar(13 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

How about turning all the police into firemen and forcing them all to work for free. The starting salary for police already dropped from 48000 to 33000. Do you think that Boardman is going to draw in quality law enforcment officers. Not when they can go to other areas and start out for 7000 to 10000 more. It seems to me that Boardman needs to start over with people who know what they are doing. A fiscal officer who seems to routinely mess up the numbers and a township counsel who can't figure out how to properly and safley staff a fire department needs to go.

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10RPrice1478(1 comment)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

If Mr. Derose or a member of his family become trapped in a fire, he will wish he kept his mouth shut!!

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