ROSSFORD — Northwood, Rossford and Lake Township are considering a joint fire and EMS district and the results of the initial feasibility study were presented at the Rossford Council meeting on Monday.

Stan Crosley, of the Ohio Fire Chiefs’ Association Consulting Services, presented the study, which was completed in December. A similar presentation had already been delivered to Northwood, but still needs to take place in Lake Township.

The study looked at equipment, personnel, operational and service demands.

As part of the study Crosley met with staff members from each of the three departments.

They looked at each of the communities and their growth patterns over the past 10 years and what is projected for seven to 10 years down the road.

Crosley concluded that each of the departments were organized in a similar fashion that lent to comparability.

Each department has had service demand increases in the last 10 years. Only Rossford’s results were discussed at the meeting. Rossford has shown increases of 64% in EMS and 66% for fire calls. There were also recruitment backlogs, with declining recruitment for volunteer firefighters and EMS, which reflected national trends.

Using national performance goals for first arrival on scene of 7 minute, 6 second response time for fire and and 7 minutes for EMS.

Crosley broke the city down into a north and a south district. For fire, the north district met the goal 77% of the time, which he called pretty good. The south district was 27%, which he called “not very good.”

EMS north district met their goal 84% of the time and in the south district 27% of the time.

Crosley recommended use of a levy as the revenue source. Any existing levy would just stop collections. He also recommended care in how the new levy is presented to voters, as they need to know that taxes won’t be collected twice.

Four staffing options were considered with projected operating budgets ranging in size from $2.3 million to $5.3 million. The first number represents a basic merging of estimated annual budgets from the three departments.

The current Rossford operating budget, from 2021 was $598,770.

The department had also purchased several items including: firefighting personal protective equipment ($30,0000), a replacement ambulance ($227,175) purchased with Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds, and a replacement aerial ladder truck estimated at $819,825, which, if received would be funding by the city at a 10% of the total cost ($81,982).

Crosley listed three primary goals behind merging into a single joint operation: cost savings by reducing duplication of expenses, boosting response performance and reliability and reduction in competition for talent in hiring.

Growth in the southern section of Rossford is expected to continue and the triangle represented by the three communities is considered a high growth area.

Some of the savings in operating costs might include reduction in long term capital, in the form of vehicles.

Increased staffing options would be one way to increase performance in that southern Rossford district, which are represented in the more expensive budget options.

Councilman Robert Ruse asked about the next step, after approval of a resolution by the council to move forward.

Crosley gave a general recommendation for the way a joint district might be governed.

He compared it to a school district with a three-person board. There would be a member from Rossford, as well as a representative from Northwood and Lake Township.

The next step for Rossford is a discussion in the safety committee. Council President Caroline Eckel also suggested a committee of the whole, for a more broad-based discussion.