Hubbard fire district discussed

HUBBARD TOWNSHIP — Fire consultants Dr. William Kramer and Dr. Randy Hanafen of Kramer and Associates Fire / EMS Consulting talked to township trustees Monday about how to turn the Eagle Joint Fire District from a volunteer department to a staffed part-time department.

“Phase 1 is digging to give you a handle on what is affordable, what is likely to be voted on by the taxpayers and what will they get us in the way of part-time staff to meet the serious lack of volunteers during especially weekday day time hours,” Kramer said.

He said he expects to have a draft of Phase 1 completed by the end of September.

“You don’t want to have somebody give you the answer, ‘I’m sorry — there’s nobody that can answer your call.’ So what our community is doing is finding different ways to continue to provide service, and one of the options here in the Hubbard area is to have some on-duty staff when volunteers are unavailable or available only in insufficient numbers and provide meaningful, timely responses to your call for help,” he said.

Hanafen added that firefighters do more than fight fires.

“They’re offering CPR to the citizens; they are out checking the fire hydrants,” he said. “You have to also consider, while we call it the fire department, that’s really a kind of a misnomer today as to what that is. It’s really an all-hazard response.”

Consultants and trustees talked about putting a fire levy on the March ballot. Trustees said a police levy failed on its first round and that Hubbard residents are “taxed to death.”

“A lot of times we get grief for not studying the problem and start throwing money at it. There’s no more money to throw,” Trustee Fred Hanley said.

Funding that once was about $220,000 is down to about $65,000, he said.

Kramer said he has been researching grants through FEMA, such as the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant, which is used to aid a community’s ability to offer staffing.

“And you don’t have to put a whole lot of people on duty as long as you can keep a volunteer force that’s viable,” Kramer said. “We’re going to try to deal with facts and figures and try to show you how to balance what’s affordable with what the citizens would likely be willing to support versus what’s really safe.”

According to both Kramer and Hanafen, the Eagle Joint Fire District is not as far off as the district believed. The five-year plan will initially focus on providing Hubbard with a staffed fire department, and down the road will look at possibly adding EMS services as well.

“The (fire) board, I believe, feels confident that we will get some great information moving forward,” Trustee Rick Hernandez said. “This is called Master Plan Five Years Out, and I can tell you that it’s a great service for what’s being provided.”

The volunteer fire department serves both Hubbard and Hubbard Township.