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Bolindale fire station resumes full-time hours

Fire chief says Bolindale is better protected

HOWLAND — Township officials are keeping their promise as the Bolindale Fire Station officially will be manned 24 hours daily starting Wednesday.

Residents of the township passed a 2.25-mill, additional five-year fire levy on the November general election ballot to generate $950,000 annually, allowing for the station to have two firefighter / paramedics at the station at all times.

Fire Chief James Pantalone said the station has been staffed during part-time hours in recent years but will soon have the needed full-time coverage.

“With the part-time staffing we have had there now, it has given us the opportunity to see how we can operate the station at full strength seven days a week,” he said.

Pantalone said the annual fire and emergency call volume has been rising, and Howland is the busiest fire department in Trumbull County.

He noted the open station will allow for much quicker response time to calls in the Bolindale area.

“We will be able to respond to calls in a few minutes in that immediate area,” he said.

The Bolindale station had been closed for 12 years and then opened in late 2017, staffed on a part-time basis.

“At that time, we did not have the additional staff for it to be open full time. In the past few years, it was hit or miss on when someone was stationed there,” Pantalone said.

Pantalone said now two people will be stationed at all times there.

Firefighter Brian Bellus, who is stationed at Bolindale, said: “We will be much closer to the neighborhoods here when there are calls for an ambulance or a fire.”

“We are fulfilling our promise to the voters who supported the levy. We said if the levy is passed, one of the things we would be able to do is open the station. There is a big need to get that station opened at all time. If we did not have it opened, it would be a longer response time to calls with crews coming from one of the other two stations,” Trustee James Lapolla said.

Pantalone said the township will now have 24-hour coverage at all three stations, which include the main station off East Market Street and the Morgandale Station off Elm Road NE.

Pantalone said plans are to hire three full-time firefighters / paramedics in April, which also was made possible with the passage of the levy.

In March, Nicholas Schrekengost and Shane Stelk were hired as full-time firefighter / paramedics to fill two retirement openings.

Trustee Chairman Matt Vansuch said the township appreciates the support from the community in approving the fire levy.

“The safety forces are able to provide much more coverage to the Bolindale area with the support from the public,” he said.

Pantalone said the owner of $100,000 home pays around $86.36 per year to fund the new levy.

In addition, the levy funding will help beef up the budget for the day-to-day needs of the department.

“With the loss of local government funds from the state, there had been less money to operate the fire department,” Lapolla said.

Officials said the levy will help the fire department cover the increasing number of calls and will help replace aging equipment that is becoming more expensive.

Officials said the department has seen a loss of $300,000 from the tangible personal property tax and also a decrease in millage and property valuation.

Township Administrator Darlene St. George said the levy funds will help the department purchase a fourth ambulance to handle the increased call volume and maintain current services.

St. George said previously that when the state takes away money from local governments, it becomes necessary to go to the taxpayers.

“We have not gone to the taxpayers unless it is a necessity,” she said.

St. George said getting the fourth ambulance also will benefit the department.

Township trustees at their March meeting noted the safety forces have been busy preparing for the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have all been dealing daily with the coronavirus situation. We will open the station and do what we can,” Pantalone said.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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