It's critical the Sylvania Township Fire Department replace its station on Central Avenue, and the next priority should be replacing the downtown Sylvania station on Monroe Street, according to an interim report by the advisory board studying the fire department.
Among other recommendations: a campaign aimed at adding more volunteer firefighters to the department.
The board is expected to discuss the report in a joint meeting of the Sylvania City Council and the Sylvania Township Trustees on Monday. The department, run by the township, provides service to township and city residents.
George Mutter, chairman of the advisory board, said an analysis of fire operations in the township department has been ongoing for months "and it's time for us to stand down for awhile and let the trustees determine what they want to do.''
He said issues have been analyzed enough for the time being.
The board was formed with the idea of overseeing department operations and acting as something of a conduit for information between the trustees and city officials.
The advisory board includes three representative from the city, which periodically had complained about a lack of information about the fire department operations. Criticism from the city came as the township sought approval from voters for two levies totalling 3.95 mills for the department. The measures were soundly defeated.
Two of the current township trustees, Pam Hanley and Dee Dee Liedel, were active opponents of the levies.
Some city officials voiced a concern that the advisory board would be used as an instrument to promote a levy, but Mr. Mutter said that was never his intention.
The interim report states that funding and contractual matters are the responsibility of the township trustees "and are beyond the scope of this committee.''
The recommendation to replace the fire station on Central at I-475/U.S. 23 has been urged for years and is stressed again in the board's report.
It was built by firefighters about 40 years ago. It is now "a collection of alterations and additions," according to the report, which also points out that because of changes on Central Avenue, firefighting and emergency medical equipment can turn only right when exiting the station.
Likewise the firehouse in downtown Sylvania "is a collection of additions and alterations to the original [1930s] building.''
The station at Whiteford Road and Monroe Street also is noted for its age and the fact that it is landlocked on a small parcel at the busy intersection.
The board generally approves of the condition of the newest fire station at Sylvania Avenue, just east of Centennial Road.
In addition to increasing the number of volunteer firefighters, the department should maintain a minimum of 16 firefighters on duty for each 24-hour shift. The committee does not recommend a change in the 24-hours on, 48-hours off work schedule "at this time.''
In addition to recruitment, the board suggests more training be given to volunteers and that they be given specific responsibilities and accountability.
Currently, volunteers are not in station houses but are paged and respond when available.
The board also suggests hiring a consultant to recommend methods of better disseminating information to the public and between the township, the city, and the fire department.