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Village of Ottawa Hills proposes to contract with City of Toledo for fire, medical emergency services

The Village of Ottawa Hills has initiated discussions with the City of Toledo to provide fire and emergency medical service in the Village. The two parties are ready to move forward with implementing legislation in the near future.

The proposed agreement will benefit both communities, by providing excellent protection and service at a considerably reduced cost to the Village of Ottawa Hills, quicker response time for some Toledo residents and increased revenue for the city.

Ottawa Hills officials approached Toledo about contracting for fire and emergency services earlier this year, due to concerns about operating revenues in the Village, and the fact fire protection is a very expensive service to provide on a small scale. Toledo city firefighters currently respond to emergencies in the Village on occasion through a mutual-aid agreement between the two communities, and have worked well together for years.

“This is a win-win situation for both Ottawa Hills and the City of Toledo,” said Ottawa Hills Mayor Kevin Gilmore. “We expect residents of both communities will see the same or better levels of service, and we hope our agreement will serve as a model for regional cooperation.”

“This is just one example of how the City of Toledo can partner with our neighbors to benefit both communities,” said Toledo Mayor Michael P. Bell. “ I’m glad Toledo and Ottawa Hills were able to engage in productive discussions and I think this will serve as a positive model for collaboration in service delivery.”

Under a proposed agreement, the City of Toledo will establish a fire station in the Village, using the Village’s current facility. The Ottawa Hills Village Council will vote to disband the Fire Department; and, assuming approval, the department will be integrated with Toledo Fire and Rescue on the targeted date of January 1, 2011.

Mayor Bell expects to forward legislation to Toledo City Council for consideration in the near future as details of the proposal are finalized.

Currently, there are 10 full-time and eight part-time firefighters in the Village. The full-time firefighters will be retained and integrated within the Toledo Fire and Rescue Department, with pay and benefits comparable to what the village currently offers.

This agreement will cut Ottawa Hills’ fire protection costs by roughly 50 percent, from an estimated $900,000 annually to a contracted $425,000 annually for the first five years of a 20-year contract. It will not increase fire protection costs for Ottawa Hills residents, nor is it expected to impact the Village’s fire insurance classification.

This arrangement will reduce the need for Ottawa Hills to invest in costly, new firefighting equipment. Further, it will allow Toledo to meet its needs for a station in this area and provide additional staff, as the department likely will absorb 10 highly-trained firefighters, all of whom also are trained medical professionals.

In 2009, Ottawa Hills emergency personnel responded to 452 calls for service, of which the majority were medical. Those calls included 82 additional aid requests from the City of Toledo and 17 calls in which the Village received aid from the City of Toledo. Toledo Fire and Rescue responded to 49,451 calls for service in 2009.

While the decision was a difficult one for the Village of Ottawa Hills, it makes good fiscal sense for the future, officials say.