Medina asked to pursue federal grant to add firefighters

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 February 2016 at 12:00 am

MEDINA – The Village Board was asked to pursue a federal grant that would pay the salaries for new full-time firefighters for the fire department.

The department currently has 14 full-time staff that respond to about 3,000 calls a year, with about 85 percent of the calls for ambulance services.

Medina has been providing the full-time ambulance service for western Orleans County for about a decade. Jonathan Higgins, a captain with the Fire Department, and other department leaders have pressed the Village Board in recent years to boost staffing for the department.

Higgins referred to a study of the MFD that recommended 17 full-time staff for a department handling 1,700 calls. Medina is responding to more far more than 1,700 calls with a small staff, he told the board on Monday.

The federal Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response grant would pay for additional staff, covering training, salaries and benefits for two years. Higgins urged the board to request three new firefighters in the grant.

Mayor Andrew Meier said he doesn’t think the grant provides a sustainable solution for staffing and funding the department. He doesn’t want the village to be in a position two years after the grant where several people could lose their jobs.

“It’s not a good long-term plan,” Meier said during Monday’s Village Board meeting.

Higgins said added staff would reduce overtime costs and “firefighter fatigue.”

The board last year voted to pursue the grant for two positions, but wasn’t successful with the application. The board needs to decide next month how many positions it wants to pursue in the grant.

Higgins said a grantwriter will put together the application for $500.

The board acted on a different matter for the Fire Department on Monday. It approved spending up to $14,765 for a new hydraulic stretcher with batteries for an ambulance. That stretcher is helpful for moving larger patients over 300 pounds. The new stretcher from Stryker will replace one that is 12 years old.