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North College Hill officials hope task force solves fire department's staffing issues

Posted at 3:14 PM, Feb 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-20 19:27:27-05

NORTH COLLEGE HILL, Ohio — Residents should be concerned about lack of staffing at the North College Hill Fire Department, according to City Administrator Ron Mosby.

The department only has three full-time employees and can only respond to one emergency at a time, Chief Brian Fels said. The other 31 firefighters are part time.

An effort to join forces with the Mount Healthy Fire Department via a funded tax levy failed twice, so city officials are creating a task force in an effort to build a sustainable fire department.

The task force is being formed under the direction of Mayor Tracie Nichols, Mosby said.

“She (Nichols) wants the residents and the businesses to have a level of confidence in the level of service that they’d get from first responders,” Mosby said.

Mosby said the department is structured around part-time firefighters, which presents challenges because those firefighters don’t work regular hours.

“The part-time model is not something that will be sustainable in the long term future,” Mosby said.

Fels said it’s not an emergency yet, but officials need to come up with something comprehensive within the next two years.

“We’re trying to fix the issues,” Fels said. “We’re not going to wait until the bottom falls out or we can’t continue to operate.”

Nichols will appoint the task force, which will be comprised of Fels, a fire department representative, city council members and two residents.

The group will be formed by March, and the goal is to have a complete report by August. Findings will be presented to the public in September.