Girard fire wants to join county dispatch

WARREN — The Girard Fire Department wants to begin talks with the county to join the Trumbull County 911 dispatch system, rather than the city’s dispatch, which it currently uses.

Fire Chief James Petruzzi said the city’s dispatch is getting overwhelmed as the call volume increases for police and fire. Last year, Girard fire made 2,144 runs, marking the department’s busiest year in its history. The city has only one dispatcher on duty at a time, so by alleviating them of the fire calls, that dispatcher job will be more manageable.

“We’re not the only ones experiencing this,” Petruzzi said. Every year, departments are getting busier, and there’s more of a workload on everyone.”

If the switch were to be made, Petruzzi said the police and fire departments still would have an open line of communication via their MARCS radios and said the dispatchers in Girard and Trumbull County also would be able to easily communicate if there was a situation where both departments needed to respond. He pointed out that with just one dispatcher on duty now, that person has to navigate communicating with police and fire simultaneously in situations where they both are needed.

In case of emergency, Trumbull County 911 dispatch is set up as the backup for Girard, so Petruzzi said he doesn’t think it would be difficult to make the switch. Petruzzi said he has had a couple of meetings with Girard administration, and he got their approval before coming to the commissioners at their workshop meeting on Tuesday.

At the meeting, Commissioners Mauro Cantalamessa and Denny Malloy said they support the switch. Malloy said there will be a fee for Girard to use the county 911 service, which still will need to be worked out, then taken back to Girard for approval.

Cantalamessa said when the county 911 department was created, the vision was for all of the smaller departments in the county to come together under one roof.

If Girard fire does make the switch to the county, the remaining smaller departments will be Niles, which dispatches Niles police and fire; Lordstown, which dispatches Lordstown police and fire and Warren Township police and fire; Warren city fire; and Girard city police. Cantalamessa said the remaining municipalities might be hesitant to switch to the county because they don’t want to lose that autonomy.

“I’m willing to keep those lines of communication open so what was envisioned for the county 911 can be realized,” Cantalamessa said.

Also on Tuesday, Cantalamessa and Malloy gave HR Director Alexandra DeVengencie-Bush the approval needed to repost the 911 director job.

“We would like to make sure it gets to fire entities, police entities, EMA entities,” Bush said. “We’re going to utilize the sheriff’s department as well as the EMA department to make sure we get the advertisement out there through information sharing of other entities to get a bigger pool of applicants who have what we’re looking for in the revised job posting.”

She said the original job posting lacked some of what the county wants in the applicant.

Malloy said out of the 65 applicants from the last time the job was advertised, the panel in charge of the hiring process narrowed it down to five people to interview. At that point, Malloy said they realized the job was not advertised with several first responders groups.

The panel consists of outgoing Trumbull County Human Resources Director Charles Leightner, Bush, interim 911 Director Patty Goldner, Trumbull County Sheriff Paul Monroe, Trumbull County Emergency Management Agency Executive Director John Hickey, Howland fire Chief James Pantalone and Malloy.

He said by readvetising, the county will better ensure it is getting the best applicant pool it can. Malloy previously said none of the remaining candidates really stood out as “must hires.”

“We hope to interview between 10 and 12, instead of just the five that we have,” Malloy said. “This is just in fairness to the process to make sure we turn over every rock we can find to make sure we find the best person we can.”

Malloy hopes a new 911 director will be selected by May.

The next 911 director will take over from interim director Patty Goldner. She was elevated to be the department’s interim director in January 2021. She has had to do both her job as 911’s assistant director and the director’s job.

The previous director, Ernie Cook, was fired.


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