Fire Station No. 7 could stay open

Fire chief: Staffing levels to determine whether station remains open
Andy Ouriel
Apr 16, 2014

 

The true fate of Sandusky Fire Station No. 7 remains a mystery.

For weeks, city officials said they planned on closing the west end fire hub, on Venice Road near Toft Dairy, from May to October for financial reasons.

Now they’ve backpedaled and suggested they could keep the station open for, at most, four or five days a week during this period.

Closing of west side fire station angers resident

“The decision to close a fire station will depend on the daily staffing levels,” Sandusky fire Chief Paul Ricci said. “If we drop below minimum staffing levels of 12 on any given day, station (No.) 7 will be closed for that day”

Staffing levels come into play after commissioners approved a $16.3 million everyday operating budget earlier this year.

The budget included $1.1 million in cuts, consisting of eventually reducing fulltime fire staffing levels to 49 and temporarily shutting down station No. 7.

This summer, the fire department will work with no more than 50 full-time firefighters, down from 52 earlier this year, after commissioners downsized staffing levels through attrition. This would include Ricci’s impending retirement, with officials not yet selecting his replacement and leaving his spot vacant.

Efforts to now keep the station open for some days, rather than closing it entirely for six straight months, resulted from residents disappointed, fearful and outraged about the decision.

Some residents voiced their wishes during Monday’s public meeting to keep the station open, operating 24 hours a day throughout the year.

“I would appeal to you to please reconsider this,” Mills Street resident Lovey Leavell said. “We have too many senior citizens over there, in addition to all the other residents. I ask you to reconsider closing station No. 7”

Ricci said this station, and not the two others located downtown or by Cedar Point, is closing simply based on demand.

“Data tells us that there are fewer fire and EMS calls in the west end,” Ricci said. “Many high-risk occupancies are protected with fire alarm and sprinkler systems, and the nursing care facilities are staffed with professional health care providers that can offer care prior to EMS arrival”

A reduced staff would equate to squads needing an additional two to five minutes on average to appear on scene in a given area in Sandusky.

In the most extreme case if station No. 7 is closed: Firefighters on Sandusky’s eastern end would need up to 12 minutes to arrive to a fire at the city’s westernmost point — but that’s only if a squad’s available. If all squads are busy, the arrival time would substantially rise.

Comments

JT Adams St

A number of Sandusky residents have already met to discuss an increase in the admissions tax for the purpose of keeping the city's three fire stations open 365 days a year. The next meeting is scheduled for 9 am, Saturday, April 26, at the central fire station. A notice will be posted in the Register's community events calendar next week. Our goal is to place an admissions tax increase on the November ballot through a residents' petition. Anyone who is willing to support that effort is invited to attend the meeting.

Nor'easter

Meeting will also discuss the NEED to REPAVE CITY STREETS. This is a community effort to redirect priority to SERVE the RESIDENTS NEEDS since we have already met the physical needs of Cedar Point.

DGMutley

No one has explained why #7 is to be closed between May and October, the busiest time of the year rather than the slower times of the year.

This is like pulling teeth. Why? Why isn't the staffing being funded from the "rainy day" fund while a permanent solution is found for funding?

How much heat does this take to keep fire and ems protection on the West side? Is a petition necessary? Mercy!

akmed

the station will be closed when firemen are on vacation. staff will be short handed.

DGMutley

That's not a valid reason for shutting down #7 during the busiest time of the year.

samiam

Why not close downtown and let #7 and #3 cover it? Why do tourists at CP deserve better consideration than residents of west end?