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Medina OKs agreement with township for fire services

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MEDINA — City Council unanimously approved an agreement Monday night with Medina Township for Medina to provide fire services for $230,000 annually.

It was pushed through Council as an emergency measure, and Medina Township trustees asked the city to provide services as soon as possible.

The next step in the agreement will be for township trustees to vote at a 7 p.m. meeting Thursday at their town hall, 3799 Huffman Road.

“In the event that it’s approved Thursday, the contract would take effect immediately,” township Trustee Bill Ostmann said Monday night.

Ostmann said the township paid $623,000 for its own fire services in 2016.

“This is very similar to the services we’ve provided for Montville (Township) for over five decades,” Mayor Dennis Hanwell said.

Hanwell said service will include hydrant flushing and vehicle maintenance, among other things.

Medina Fire Chief Bob Painter said the city will hire about 15 firefighters. Most, if not all, will come from a pool of 38 Medina Township firefighters.

Hanwell said the city pays its firefighters a higher wage and they also are covered by the Medina Civil Service Commission.

“We’re trying to spend tax dollars as best as we can,” Ostmann said. “Unfortunately, some firefighters will lose their jobs.”

Ostmann came to the Council meeting to explain why it would be best for the township to move quickly on the matter.

“When the fire captain said, ‘People are going to die,’ that’s borderline inciting panic,” he said.

He was referring to a comment made by township firefighter Mark Roberts, who was interviewed on WEWS-TV. Roberts said Monday night he did not regret making the comment.

“It was taken out of context,” he said. “I said we’ve handled many full-arrest drug overdoses where we were the first on the scene. With the additional response time, people will die. They won’t be revived.”

Roberts said his biggest concern was the rush to reach the new agreement.

He said he wanted township trustees to have a public hearing on the subject. He said he won’t be applying for a position with the Medina department.

“I burned my bridge,” the captain said.

“(The trustees) are going to come in here and pass this thing Thursday,” Roberts said. “To walk away from this in nine days boggles my mind.”

Ostmann said the township department is staffed 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week.

“We’ll have more coverage, and the cost will be less,” Ostmann said.

“I didn’t expect an easy transition. Some on the department are extremely opposed to it.”

If it’s approved, Medina firefighters will use Fire Station No. 2 at 4869 Nettleton Road in the township.

Chief Painter said Fire Station No. 1 at Huffman/Fenn roads eventually will be used as well.

The plan is for the communities of Medina and Montville and Medina townships to form a fire district.

The township will turn over to the city all its fire equipment, which will be maintained by the city with the understanding that major repairs and/or replacement shall occur only through agreements between the city and township. The township will maintain ownership of the equipment and sites, but discontinue operation of a fire department while the contract is in effect.

It only can be terminated after a written notice by either party.

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.



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