SIDNEY — Sidney Fire Chief Brad Jones presented Lucas Woodward and Jordan Stemen, two of the department’s three new firefighters to Sidney City Council Monday evening. Sidney’s third new firefighter, Mitchell Ahlers, was unable to attend council’s workshop session Monday.
The new firefighters were sworn-in on their first day on the job on Jan. 16.
Jones told council that Woodward has completed his Firefighting Level I and EMT-Basic certifications and graduated high school from Jackson Center High School. Currently he resides in Fletcher and is in the U.S. Army National Guard, which included a deployment to Afghanistan. Woodward was the store manager of The Cellular Connection in Piqua, and also worked as an EMT/ambulance driver for Integrity Ambulance Service.
Stemen is a graduate of Perry High School in Lima, Jones said, and possesses Firefighting Level I, II and Paramedic certifications. He previously worked for Delphos Fire & Rescue and Perry Township Fire Department. He lives in Elida with his wife, Haleigh, and their 9-month-old son, Weston, and are expecting their second son in June.
Jones told council that Ahlers has completed his Firefighting Level I and EMT-Basic certifications. He is a graduate of Fort Loramie High School and is currently a volunteer for the Fort Loramie Volunteer Fire Department/Rescue. Before coming to Sidney Fire, Jones said, he worked at Machine Concepts in Minster, and also served in the US Marine Corps. Currently, Ahlers lives in Fort Loramie with his wife, Morgan, and their three children, Adalynne, Chase and Isabella.
Also during Monday’s workshop session meeting, Jones presented the department’s annual report and information about the MARCS (Multi-Agency Radio Communication System) radio coverage.
The annual report included Sidney Fire and Emergency Services’s fire prevention activities, training hours, operation activities, significant events, the incident densities and response times by district. He also displayed a current to future comparison of the average response times for after a third fire station is to be added.
Jones’s report on fire prevention activities showed that in 2017, the department conducted 574 fire prevention inspections, 14 fire investigations, 1 court ordered juvenile fire-setter program and 102 pre-K through fifth grade school education programs to 3,493 young students.
The department underwent 7,639 total hours of training in 2017, averaging 201 hours per person.
“We aim for about a 150 hours of continuing education per person that meets the state requirements both of fire and ems and internal requirements we have,” Jones said.
In 2017, Jones said Sidney Fire received the highest total number of calls for service in the history of the department, at 4,263 calls. He said there was a 4 percent increase of calls for service over last year, which was for 4,080 calls. He also noted that since he joined Sidney Fire and Emergency Services, there has been an increase in call volume by 39.5 percent since 2010.
“That up-tick has continued and we don’t really see a slow down (in the future). So, that just adds credence to the needs for the north, third (fire) station and a need for an increased daily staffing to divide that work load up,” Jones said.
There were 380 EMS and 89 fire incidents among the 2017 operations of township activities, Jones said.
Among the significant incidents during 2017, Jones noted the most expensive event last year, and most expensive vehicle fire ever, caused $550,000 in damages. The fire was caused by a vehicle that crashed into a building and its the gas line downtown last April.
Jones refreshed council about how MARCS works for police, dispatch and fire. The new system, Jones said, maximizes the amount of channels available versus the old system that only allowed certain departments to communicate on certain channels.
The MARCS system allows fire and police and other communities’ departments to communicate easily and from a greater distance due to the connectivity of MARCS’s towers throughout Ohio. Jones said dispatch can still easily connect department members with other entities using the old system for mutual aid situations, for example.
The MARCS replacement tower in Sidney is brand new, Jones said. He explained that it works in conjunction with other towers in a similar way to how cellphone towers connect calls. He noted that although the department is aware the system is not full-proof in every scenario, radios can be used as “walkie-talkies” to connect with other team members who may be in a better connectable area, outside or above ground, for example.
Jones said after the radios were bought at the end of 2016, now the city of Sidney’s user fee is $10 per month per device.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.