What a difference time makes
Closed Lake Pointe Fire Station in Plymouth Township
Aug. 6, 2013 PLYMOUTH EAGLE.
Time, it appears, seriously alters the perspective of elected officials regarding acceptable levels of public safety service.
For example, a few years ago when Plymouth city and township shared fire services, the city officials expressed their displeasure publicly after learning one of the three Plymouth Township fire stations was closed for 90 minutes due to a staffing shortage. City Mayor Dan Dwyer publicly complained at a meeting of the city commission and expressed his “concern” about the safety of city residents.
“During a special public meeting with Fire Chief Randy Maycock, commissioners requested they be informed immediately of any fire-house closures after it was discovered that a fire station in the city was closed at least three times between Christmas of 2005 and Independence Day 2006 without their knowledge due to insufficient staff levels.
“Six people were scheduled to work and only four showed up,” said Dwyer, who was informed by City Manger Paul Sincock after he received an email from Plymouth Township Supervisor Richard Reaume announcing the closure.
“Could something have happened? Of course,” said Reaume. “We would have responded with our other fire stations,” he added.
Reaume said there were no emergency calls during the 90-minute closure and the department was prepared to respond, despite being understaffed.
Dwyer said the recent closing on Sunday is proof that a problem “still exists.”
(Plymouth Journal, October, 2007)
Obviously, the definition of understaffed has changed markedly since that time. Back then, the Plymouth Township Community Fire Department had 28 full-time firefighters-paramedics to serve both the city and the township, and officials complained about the risk to the safety of residents when staffing was reduced or any of the fire stations closed for any amount of time.
It appears they have changed their standards markedly as today, there are only two stations operating in Plymouth Township and station closures take place routinely without any public comment, much less criticism or overt concern for the safety of the public.
Now, the city has a volunteer fire department with about 10 members and there is no joint agreement with the township. The City of Plymouth now relies on these volunteers and the on-call fire department shared with the City of Northville.
Last week, once again, the Plymouth Township Fire Chief was forced to close stations because of a shortage of manpower brought about by vacation schedules and-or sick days.
One day recently, because of manpower restrictions, there was only one station open manned with one full-time, fully-trained firefighter paramedic on duty to serve the 28,000 township residents. The full force in Plymouth Township is only 12 professional firefighter-paramedics and only four of them are on duty per shift, two at each open station. The other station remains permanently closed.
Should there be a fire or serious medical emergency, the township on-call firefighters would be alerted to report from their homes or places of business, as would the on-call staffers from the City of Northville. A request for mutual aid would probably also go to the City of Northville or Canton Township where there is a full complement of fully-trained, fully staffed professionals on duty.
While the on-call firefighters attempt to drive from wherever they might be at the time of the alarm, precious minutes are lost.
A timely response to a medical emergency during a closing would be dependent upon the availability of Ann Arbor based Huron Valley Ambulance and how close one of those rigs might be to the situation.
The priorities, criteria for public safety and values of elected officials certainly seem to have changed since 2007 when a 90-minute closing of one fire station was a serious cause for concern.
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