MOUNT VERNON — Mount Vernon Fire Chief Chad Christopher said he is ready to begin the process of gearing up to add Liberty Township to the city’s area of providing fire and EMS protection.
Christopher said the main thing that needs to be done is to hire three new firefighter/paramedics.
“We now have eight firefighter/ paramedics on each unit. I want to raise that to nine,” he said.
The fire department staff is divided into three units, with each working a 24-hour shift, followed by 48 hours off. There are no plans for any volunteer firefighters.
“I have a list of eligible candidates,” the chief said. “I’d like to start the process as soon as possible.”
He explained that when a new firefighter starts, he or she has a training period to go through that takes about 27 shifts, or nearly two months.
Christopher said he will be filling City Council in on the situation at a committee meeting tonight, at 7 p.m., before the regular council meeting.
Also needing to be done before the city takes over the responsibility for Liberty Township on Jan. 1, 2017, is developing “run cards” and determining who will be called on for mutual aid in different parts of the township when needed.
Run cards are an advance determination of whether crews from the main firehouse or the Ames Street station should respond to runs in which parts of Liberty Township. By the same token, the department needs to know in advance who will be called for mutual aid for incidents in which part of the township.
Christopher has not indicated a need for any additional equipment at this time. The department recently added a new EMS vehicle, but still has the oldest one, so it now has three usable ambulances.
The chief said Liberty Township averages about 120 runs per year (total of both EMS and fire runs), which is less than three per week.
The fire department’s expansion into Liberty Township will be paid for by the 4.5 mill, 5-year levy passed by Liberty Township voters Nov. 8. The township will actually pay the city the equivalent of 5.5 mills, with the difference being paid by the settlement Liberty Township will receive on leaving the Central Ohio Joint Fire District.
Liberty Township will be the fourth township to contract with the city of Mount Vernon for fire and EMS protection. The city also provides coverage for Pleasant Township, Clinton Township and the southern half of Morris Township. Coverage is also contracted for the Knox County Airport under an agreement with Knox County and the Mount Vernon Developmental Center under a contract with the state of Ohio.
In 2015, the city had 490 runs to Clinton Township, 154 runs in Morris Township and 140 runs in Pleasant Township.
Each township pays a different millage based on their contract. Pleasant Township pays 2.5 mills, Clinton pays 5 mills and Morris pays 4 mills. Liberty Township will be paying the equivalent of 5.5 mills.
Liberty Township’s fire and emergency services levy being collected under the old levy and going to the COJFD amounted to $263,499.48.
The amount of money collected varies based on the value of the property taxed and the number of people who pay their taxes.
According to the Knox County Auditor’s Office, in 2015 a total of $274,345.85 was paid by Clinton Township, $97,498.97 by Morris Township and $84,780.23 by Pleasant Township.