TIPP CITY — A staffing implementation plan was highighted in a presentation given by Tipp City Fire and Emergency Services (TCFES) Chief Cameron Haller Tuesday evening.
The presentation was part of a meeting Tipp City Council had with Monroe Township Trustees regarding ongoing discussions of the departmental study completed by the Ohio Fire Chief’s Association (OFCA). In the study, the number one recommendation by the OFCA was to shift from TCFES’ current system of a volunteer department to part-time paid personnel to accommodate the growth of Tipp City. Haller’s staffing plan focuses on maintaining a combination staffing plan of full-time and part-time employees as well as volunteers. Currently, staffing includes 4,160 hours for full-time employees and 43,800 hours for part-time employees with additional volunteer hours; by multiple variables, the proposed staffing plan will have 41,280 full-time hours across 19 full-time employees, 26,280 part-time hours across 21 part-time employees and volunteer hours to accomplish OFCA goals.
“Combination staffing is the key, one hundred percent,” Haller said. “The chief and assistant chief are not considered on-duty, but we do supplement as needed. I go on calls where I think I’m needed or can help the troops; however, we have to balance that with (other duties).”
The presentation also addressed TCFES strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges. Haller emphasized that consistent weaknesses in the department is the inconsistencies in level of care from call to call with the 13 paramedics that serve TCFES. Part of this is due to the fact that, according to Haller, everyone on the department has other employment and TCFES is trying to find that perfect mix of people to bring on 24/7. Another weakness is resiliency; Haller noted that the COVID outbreak and the tornadoes left the department vulnerable.
“All those other full-time folks and some part-time do not go to work anywhere else, especially during those first eight weeks. That left us very vulnerable because now we’re down to 10 to 12 employees. They work on a regular basis and they’re solid employees, but their full-time job was saying they’re not allowed to go there, period,” Haller said.
Despite the weaknesses present in the department, Haller pointed to the opportunities TCFES has in front of them, such as having a consistent shift supervisor day-to-day, consistency in paramedic care, and communication procedures the department is currently working on with the dispatch center.
Tipp City Mayor Joseph Gibson said that residents have approached him with concerns about the level of service TCFES will provide down the line; Gibson said that he tries to assure them that it will likely improve with the efforts council, Monroe Township Trustees and TCFES are taking during these meetings. Another concern residents bring up is the cost, which will be addressed in the next meeting held by council and the Monroe Township Trustees.
“Everybody asks what a full-time force is going to cost versus the combination that we have, but I just want to make sure all the options are out there, including privatization. I’m not necessarily for that, but at the same time, we owe it to the taxpayers to look at all the options,” Gibson said.
Council president Katelyn Berbach echoed that cost will be a big factor in the decisions that will be made in regard to the growth and change of TCFES, and that council has tried to talk about the change needed in TCFES for the last six years. She also pointed out that while the lives and needs of the residents of Tipp City are always considered, there are a lot of times TCFES is called out to the highway or to deal with calls that don’t involve Tipp City.
“We have an aging community we have to meet the needs for. This is going to be the stepping stone in creating and accomplishing that vision and mission. It’s the only way to do this,” Berbach said.
The next meeting of Tipp City Council and Monroe Township Trustees will tentatively be held 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 23 and is subject to change.