Medina seeks grant to add 2 paid firefighters

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 August 2013 at 12:00 am

MEDINA – The village is seeking a federal grant that would add two full-time paid firefighters for two years. If the grant application is successful, the two new recruits would join an existing full-time staff of 13 paid firefighters.

The added staff would help the department meet an increased demand for service, said Mayor Andrew Meier. The fire department last year responded to 2,520 calls, the most ever for the department, including 2,209 ambulance calls.

The department is on pace for about 2,700 calls total this year.

The two new firefighters would also help cut overtime for the department, reducing some expenses. Meier is hopeful the added revenue from the increased calls and overtime reductions will allow the two new firefighters to stay after the grant expires.

The village isn’t committed to keeping the two firefighters after the grant’s two-year cycle.

“If we have a budget gap to close in two years, there is no obligation to retain the positions,” Meier said. “But the goal would be to keep them after two years which we think we can do by boosting revenue through improved service.”

Medina is applying for the grant through the Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response grant. The village used that program to become the primary ambulance provider in western Orleans County about six years ago. The SAFER grant paid a percentage of the salaries for six new firefighters when Medina expanded its ambulance service.

When Fire Chief Todd Zinkievich pitched the ambulance plan to the Village Board in 2007, he anticipated running anywhere from 1,500 to 1,700 ambulance calls. Immediately, the department exceeded that, pushing 1,800 to 1,900 calls in its first year. The department so far in 2013 is well ahead of the pace for the record 2,209 calls last year.