Medina votes to pursue federal grant to pay for 2 firefighters

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 February 2015 at 12:00 am

MEDINA – The Village Board voted on Monday to pursue a federal grant to cover the salaries and benefits of two full-time firefighters.

The board has discussed the issue in recent meetings. Medina Fire Department leaders asked the board to seek four firefighters. That would cover the department’s staffing needs and also give Medina a better chance of getting the funding for over two years, said Captain Mike Maak.

The department currently has 13 full-time firefighters and two full-time temporary positions, as well as about 20 call men. The grant could be used to make the temporary positions permanent.

Village Board members said they didn’t want to boost staffing to an unaffordable level after the grant expired.

“It’s certainly in the village’s interest to pursue it and have some of the personnel costs covered even for two years,” Mayor Andrew Meier said. “The question is, ‘Is it sustainable for the long-term?'”

The village received a federal Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response grant before, when the department became the primary ambulance provider for western Orleans beginning in 2007.

Medina Fire Department leaders have been pushing the past year to have more staff for the department. The call volume reached 2,986 in 2014, the highest ever. When the department pitched the plan to take over ambulance calls, the projections were for 1,800 calls annually for the department.

The department has raised mileage reimbursement rates for ambulance calls and added out-of-district charges for calls outside western Orleans to try to boost revenues. However, Meier worries if the village can pay the salaries for 17 career firefighters when the grant expires. Right now there are 13 on the payroll, plus the two temporary positions.

Other board members agreed to pursue the grant for only two positions.

“Why hire four when we know we can’t sustain them after two years?” said Trustee Marguerite Sherman.

In other action, the board:

Appointed Tim Elliott to the Village Planning Board, filling a vacancy created by the resignation of Rachael Tabelski. The Village Board also appointed Kathy Blackburn as an alternate to the Planning Board, filling the spot by the late Marcia Tuohey.

Accepted the resignation from Krista Bacon as a part-time water billing clerk. Her last day will be Feb. 19.