GREENVILLE TWP — Elected officials gathered Tuesday night to discuss ways to achieve greater cooperation between Greenville Township Fire and Rescue and Greenville City Fire Department.
All members of Greenville City Council and Greenville Township were in attendance, joined by various fire and rescue personnel.
Greenville Township’s fire and rescue services, currently stationed at 1401 Sater Street in Greenville, merged January 1. As a result, the township now employs six persons dual-certified as both firefighters and paramedics, in addition to a large number of volunteers.
“We can now fully staff three ambulances, and we can bring in volunteers to man the station, so we have a pretty deep bench when it comes to that,” said Greenville Township Trustee Matt Kolb.
The township plans to build a second fire and rescue station on the north side of Greenville at the former site of Woodland Heights Elementary School.
The City of Greenville has its own fire department, but no rescue.
In 2015, a proposal for the city to form its own rescue service was considered but not adopted. Citing financial concerns, an ad hoc council committee recommended against the measure, instead proposing that talks be held with Greenville Township to establish a joint fire/emergency district.
The establishment of a joint fire district was one of the options broached during the discussion.
“I think it’s more than past time to move forward, so I say, let’s do this,” said Councilman Todd Oliver.
“The training that [the Township firefighters and EMS] have now is the same training our guys start out with. There’s no reason why they’re not working together,” added Councilman Clarence Godwin.
Councilman Doug Schmidt said he had “mixed feelings,” and asked why the township was building a second station.
“The response time is the biggest thing,” said Greenville Township Trustee Ron Klosterman, noting it will provide greater coverage for residents in the northern part of the township and that many of the township’s volunteers are employed at Whirlpool on the north side of Greenville.
“There has to be an exit option in case one of us doesn’t agree,” said Councilman Tracy Tryon.
One point of contention has been the lack of a written mutual aid agreement between the city and township. Currently, Greenville Fire Department calls in New Madison as its first backup.
Greenville Fire Chief Russ Thompson said that he had already been in discussions with Greenville Township on greater cooperation. He said, “The township was on our fourth alarm. They’ve been moved to a third. New Madison is our second, and they’re the only mutual aid we call on a second.”
Greenville Township Fire Chief Ken Stiefel pointed out that the township’s levy requires EMS services continue to be provided regardless of what arrangements are made between the township and the city.
“Through the many years and the many personnel changes that have taken place, I look forward to the city and the township having a renewed spirit of cooperation,” said Kolb. “Anytime money can be saved and services maintained or improved, I’m all about it as long as things make sense.”
“This is not something that’s going to happen overnight,” said Tryon. “It’s going to take many meetings to see what we can come up with.”
Both council members and township trustees agreed to schedule further joint meetings to continue exploring the issues.
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