Spring Grove Fire Protection District to consider functional consolidation

Richmond, Wonder Lake, Hebron-Alden-Greenwood departments part of idea

SPRING GROVE – The Spring Grove Fire Protection District Board of Trustees will meet Saturday to discuss a functional consolidation with other fire departments.

The board will meet at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Spring Grove station, 8214 Richardson Road, and potentially will form a committee to research the idea of consolidation. Board members are considering Wonder Lake, Richmond Township and Hebron-Alden-Greenwood fire protection districts as part of the plan, according to the agenda.

The idea still is in its early stages, Spring Grove Fire Chief Rich Tobiasz said.

Tobiasz said the department is trying to address staffing problems as both he and a battalion chief near retirement. Richmond and Wonder Lake fire chiefs also are nearing that point, he said.

“We have part-time employees,” Tobiasz said. “If everyone else has other jobs, it makes it hard to cover for people who are sick or taking vacation time.”

The Spring Grove Fire Protection District is staffed 24/7, typically by five firefighter/emergency service providers – four at the station and one on call. Paid on-call employees are available for large incidents or rotation backfill, according to the district’s website.

The departments already share some services, such as a radio and dispatch system. The functional consolidation could consist of an intergovernmental agreement between the departments that would allow the shared use of equipment, potential shared buys on new gear and the possibility of a single chief to oversee operations, Tobiasz said.

The Hebron-Alden-Greenwood Fire Protection District is made up of 27 paid on-call first responders, which means employees only get paid when they respond to an incident, Chief Thomas Linneman said.

“They respond from their homes,” he said. “Annually, we respond to about 375 calls.”

He said that the idea of working with other departments in the area could increase efficiency. The departments already have a partnership and work together on major events, he said.

“We are looking at some ideas on how to work better together,” Linneman said. “Consolidation is a big word. This is more about how we can work better as multiple departments.”

The Wonder Lake and Richmond Township fire protection districts also staff on-call members. In Wonder Lake, one station is staffed from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. After hours, a shift commander and four crew members respond to incidents from home, according to its website.

The Richmond Township district consists of a combination of members who staff the station 24/7 and some who respond from home, according to its website.

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