[LFC Comments: We are providing a forum for Concord Township’s Administrator, Mr. Andy Rose, to respond to the article written by Mr. Bob Sanderson, Treasurer of the Affordable Concord Taxes citizens’ group. Here is the original article to which Mr. Rose is responding: https://lobbyistsforcitizens.com/2020/06/25/act-recap-of-stakeholder-meeting/ ]
Thank you for attending the Fire Station Stakeholder meeting on June 16th. We firmly believe that it was critical to provide the residents a forum to offer suggestions and comments regarding this vital project for our community. Additionally, the meeting solidified the fact that there is a strong consensus that two new fire stations must be built to serve the needs of our community and our fire department. Please allow the following to serve as my response to your email of June 24th.
I have reviewed the video and listened to the questions and comments posed on the night of the Stakeholder meeting. In addition, I have reviewed your letter/email dated June 24. After doing so, I believe there needs to be some clarification. You state, “These facilities and the accompanying resources must be in line with the size and emergency response requirements of our community.” We feel strongly that they are in line and have not been provided with any information or documentation to the contrary from ACT or any other source. If you have opposing information which evidences otherwise, we would be happy to review the same. I noted that several of ACT’s Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) were in attendance at the meeting, yet none of them offered any opinions or suggestions on this matter. If a claim is to be made that the facilities must be appropriately sized, it is important to determine what the appropriate size is and have the accompanying facts with which to support this claim. I have on several occasions requested a meeting with ACT’s SMEs along with our Fire Chief to discuss any suggestions, ideas or input, however, no one has been willing or inclined to speak with us. I continue to welcome a meeting.
Additionally, you mentioned, Ms. Vanessa Pesec relayed an unnamed “architect’s suggestions to build a more affordable station by designing a simple rectangular floor plan instead of the complicated original plan and reduce the size by utilizing multi-use rooms instead of single purpose rooms.” To be clear, it was stated in the meeting that the original Station 1 design plan would be reworked. The original design had not been updated since August 2019. We thought it was critical to first gather both internal and external stakeholder insights before reworking any designs. Now that we have some of that information, we have gone back to the architects and they are redesigning original plans based on those suggestions in conjunction with the expertise of fire station designers. We are excited to see the redesigns and know that they will include a smoother floor plan that will suit the needs of the firefighters and include necessary office, meeting and training space along with the needs of our community.
You also indicated that there were some key issues which you thought were not adequately addressed—again, indicating that Concord Township should “reduce the overall fire station’s size and operational costs by sharing fire equipment and training facilities with neighboring communities to avoid duplicating costs wherever possible. And working collaboratively with the Auburn Career Center Fire Training Program to reduce costs.” Of course, as you know, this is already being done to the extent it can and relative to what we are required to have on hand. We can assure you that we exercise the utmost responsibility and efficiency in doing so. We have yet to hear from any ACT SMEs regarding what they define as an appropriately sized station and so it is hard to respond to these assertions without specific details. Again, I am more than happy to set up a meeting to discuss these concerns and look forward to your insight.
For many years, Concord Fire Department has engaged with its neighboring departments through mutual aid agreements. The area fire chiefs recognize that they cannot stand on their own and must share assets and resources. Several years ago, Concord Township and Painesville City participated in a joint purchase of a pre-owned ladder truck. The written agreement was specific to this truck and did not include language for subsequent purchases. When the truck had been permanently removed from service due to safety concerns, the agreement became void and Painesville City independently funded the purchase of a new ladder truck. The expectation of the Fire Chief is that the mutual aid agreement will continue between Painesville City and Concord Township for the appropriate response of their ladder truck. In regards to Concord Township purchasing its own ladder truck, there are no current plans. Again, through mutual aid agreements with area fire departments such as Chardon, Painesville City, Painesville Township, Perry, Mentor, and Willoughby, all who own ladder trucks, the fire department does not feel that it is currently necessary to incur such an expense. The purchase of a ladder truck is a major capital expense, but it also comes with the expense of staffing the truck and training our personnel on this specialty piece of equipment. Should there be a need for a ladder truck in the future, this need will be in relation to the development of commercial properties specifically in the Crile/Auburn corridor.
The addition of a third station would also be relative to the development of commercial properties in the Crile/Auburn corridor. The addition of a fire station requires the additional expense of staffing, equipment, apparatus, and furniture none of which exist in the fire department’s current operational funding.
We have used Auburn Career Center’s facilities in the past, however, they do not provide sufficient assets to fully satisfy our training needs. For several years and even to today, Auburn Career Center relies on the generosity of resources provided by area fire departments to support their Fire Training Academy. To this day, Auburn students take advantage of the opportunity to use the training props offered by Concord and other area fire departments. For many years, Concord Fire Department hosted the training program at Concord Fire Department with Retired Chief Mike Warner as the Fire Program Director for Auburn Career Center. The fire department will continue to work with Auburn Career Center for many training and educational opportunities.
I understand you have concerns about the following issue you raise: “Presenting Concord’s 10-year financial plan for firefighting and EMS needs, since the Trustees stated they plan to build two fire stations, add two additional firefighters at each station, build a third fire station, construct a large, centralized training center, and possibly add a ladder truck within 10 years. Plus, purchase new trucks and equipment. The question is quite simple — How is the Township going to afford all of this without raising taxes?” This is quite puzzling as it presumes facts and conclusions not discussed nor asserted by Concord Township. It was never stated that Concord Township would be adding two additional firefighters to each station. Additionally, we never discussed constructing a “large centralized training center.” The Fire Chief did state a ladder truck was NOT in the plan. Most importantly, a third station is also NOT in the plan.
“Not only do well-trained emergency responders provide superior service, but they are less likely to be injured or killed on the job. For that reason, there is logic in designing a fire station in a manner that encourages classroom, online, and hand-on training.” (U.S. Fire Administration, Safety and Health Considerations for the Design of Fire and Emergency Medical Services Stations, May 2018, p. 56).
The training tower that is being proposed for Station #1 provides opportunities for training of Concord Firefighters year around focusing on ladder evolutions, rope rescue, entanglement training, forcible entry, removal of a victim from an upper floor, maze training, building props, rappelling, hose advancement, standpipe evolutions, sprinkler stoppage, artificial smoke space for SCBA training, rescue of firefighters from upper floors. These training opportunities within the station keeps the firefighters within the station as much as possible ready for any response in their district.
In closing, I would like to reiterate that I very much appreciate and have and will always encourage two-way dialogue. I speak on behalf of the Trustees, our Fire Chief, and firefighters when I say we continue to welcome conversations and discussion with any community members, SME’s, etc. We have, in fact, met and spoken with many residents who have reached out about the project and we will continue to do so. This project is for the good of our entire community, and also for the health and well-being of the firefighters who spend one-third of their year living at these stations. We have reached out on several occasions to ACT and SME’s inviting conversation for the good of our community and with the overriding intention to move this critical project forward in the most efficient and positive manner possible.
Again, thank you for your feedback and for taking the time to work with us in keeping Concord Township and its residents protected. Please let us know if you have any further questions or suggestions. You will find contact information below. Please do not hesitate to reach out to any of us.
With you in making a difference,
Administrator, Concord Twp.
Tel: (440) 354-7513
Additional contact information:
Matt Sabo, Fire Chief
Tel: (440) 354-7504
Concord Twp. Trustees: