By Dedra Cordle
Jackson Township officials have hired a professional consulting agency to determine whether the fire department can continue to meet the demand of a growing community.
At its meeting in March, the board of trustees provided authorization for the Ohio Fire Chiefs’ Association to conduct a department-wide operational and staffing analysis at a cost of $24,000.
The goal of the study is to provide the township with an in-depth look at the potential weaknesses of the fire department as the area it serves continues to see commercial and residential growth.
“This analysis will help the township have more clarity of what is to come in the future,” said Shane Farnsworth, township administrator. “The township has to be ready financially and we have to plan strategically and accordingly for it.”
Stan Crosley, the association’s director of consulting services, said at a meeting late last year that this analysis will cover a number of topics to determine the future readiness of the fire department.
“We will be looking at their (current) performance and the (current) demand for services – how many calls for service they go on and what types,” he said in December. “We are also going to look at their response performance – how long does it take for them to get there (to a scene) and how long does it take them to get out of the building?
“We are going to look at the support functions of training and we’re going to look at prevention and community risk reduction efforts.”
Crosley said after crunching the data from those departmental areas, the agency will then conduct research on the service area’s current and future development plans as well as the area’s projected growth in both the commercial and residential realm.
“From that, we will make informed recommendations for you on what the department’s needs are now and what they may be in the future.”
Fire Chief Randy Little said an analysis of this scale and scope is necessary as it will be able to give them a better understanding of the department’s needs.
“We can all see that our service area is growing and we need to have that picture of how we can make adjustments in order to continue to provide the high quality services that our community deserves and expects,” he said.
Little said he does not believe the operational and staffing analysis will recommend that the department build more fire stations at this point in time, but he does believe it will provide insight on the number of staff it will take to run the four stations in the future.
“The number of runs we respond to have gone up at a historically high rate,” he said. “Our current data shows that the number of runs have risen 5 to 7 percent annually.”
He said that trend is likely to continue, particularly as the township, the city of Grove City, and the village of Urbancrest are all expected to see steady growth throughout the upcoming years.
“We have to plan for that expansion,” said Little. “We have to know how many personnel will be required to operate our fire stations and we have to know how many emergency vehicles we will have to have on hand to respond to calls.”
He said he is looking forward to seeing the results and recommendations of the operational and staffing analysis that is currently being conducted.
“It allows us time to consider what changes may have to be implemented so we can continue to serve our community,” he said.
It is expected the results of the survey will be released in the late spring to early summer.