NORTH ROYALTON – The fire department will be ordering a new paramedic squad to replace an aging 2003 unit and announced it will be receiving some new firefighter protective gear through a $10,000 grant it has been awarded.
Both items were discussed at length during City Council’s safety committee meeting last month and authorized by members.
Due to the department’s ever-increasing emergency call volume, which is now approximately 3,400 calls annually, squads are succumbing to wear and tear.
“Our call volume has gone up. We weren’t running the squads as much as we are now,” Fire Chief Bob Chegan explained.
Council authorized the city to order one new squad, which will be red and black in color to match the new rescue engine and ladder truck both ordered in 2016 and received last year. The new squad, which costs $294,349 and is being paid for through EMS ambulance billing, should arrive at the beginning of the year. A cot lift is also being purchased, which will cost between $15,000-$40,000. Chegan said the department may be looking to purchase a second squad next year.
The department keeps four squads total on hand, with the newest two on the frontline and the older units as backup. The last time a paramedic squad was purchased was 2011. The fire department typically keeps its squads approximately 15 years or so depending. Mileage is one factor in making a determination on whether or not to replace a vehicle but also age, call volume and maintenance issues such as corrosion and engine problems, which can become costly Chegan said.
“We always prepare for equipment needs,” he said. “We are already planning ahead for the next fire engine in six years or so. We make sure everything is ready to go (budget wise) so when the time comes, we can make those purchases.”
As for the new protective gear, the department recently received a grant for approximately $10,000 from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. The department must add to it a $2,000 match already budgeted for that will purchase two sets of custom fit particulate-blocking hoods and gloves for each fireman.
Chegan said the department has been paying close attention to studies indicating a higher incidence of cancer among firefighters attributed to the carcinogens they are exposed to when fighting fires. This gear will help limit their exposure by sealing out soot and residue from burnt materials and keeping it off their skin, helping prevent it from being absorbed. New protocols are in place to handle their fire equipment and person too following a fire such as bagging gear to prevent contamination, rinsing gear, using wipes to limit skin absorption and specific laundering care.
“Within the last five years, research has shown what we need to do to protect our members even more. We can’t limit everything, but we have started new procedures to better protect our guys,” Chegan said. “This is something we would normally have to buy anyway but this grant gives us the ability to get the right protection with outside funding. Having two hoods and two sets of gloves will ensure the guys always have a spare.”
Ward 3 Councilman Dan Langshaw said, as safety chairman, he fully supports the purchases.
“Making sure our fire department has all the proper equipment, tools and vehicles they need to do both their jobs to keep our residents safe 24/7,” he said, “but also keep these brave men safe to come back home to their families as well.”