Editor’s Note: The below information was posted to the comments field of the Findlay Democrat in response to the post “Hancock County Democrats Support the City of Findlay Income Tax Renewal” The Findlay Democrat cannot verify the source of these comments. I received e-mail from Chief Lonyo confirming he did author the e-mail below. I followed up with a phone call. Chief Lonyo stressed that the key factor is manpower of the FFD, not the number of stations. Chief also stated that the possibility of closing fire station #4 was raised at the Town Hall last month. For the record, the Findlay Democrat is supporting the passage of the City of Findlay tax renewal.
Update: the original post incorrectly reported the name of Citizens for Findlay …as Friends of Findlay
Mayor Mihalik, and her handlers, have continued to mislead the public on her 2013 budget over the past few weeks.
Mayor Mihalik consistently uses the closing of the Route 236 fire station as a scare tactic if the tax does not pass. To emphasize this false narrative, literature being distributed by the Mayor’s campaign to pass the 25% permanent tax increase states that if the tax is passed then current staffing levels for safety services will be “retained” at current levels.
In an email obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request (below), Findlay Fire Chief Tom Lonyo informed department members that staffing will be reduced to 3 fire stations regardless of the passage of Issue 3.
Essentially, the Federal Government is advising Findlay to reduce the Fire Department to three fire stations (60 firefighters), and is also demanding this as a condition to extend the SAFER Grant. This is ironic, considering we hired nine firefighters over the past year: another example of Chief Lonyo’s Mismanagement.
Mayor Mihalik’s misleading of the public has become habitual; Citizens for Findlay is committed to giving taxpayers the facts the Mayor, and her handlers, have continuously failed to provide. When this alliance of concerned taxpayers came together and formed Citizens for Findlay, we were determined to reveal the truth. When Citizens for Findlay wasn’t getting the truth voluntarily from our elected officials, or investigative reporting of data by local news media, we decided to find the truth on our own.
It is one thing to have Citizens for Findlay bring awareness to our bloated government, but is another when the Federal Government criticizes Findlay’s inefficiencies and overspending.
Please share the internal email from Chief Lonyo, and Citizens for Findlay fact sheet (which can be viewed here), within your network. Together we can ensure local fiscal responsibility.
We apologize for Chief Lonyo’s pontification in advance….
– Citizens for Findlay
Begin forwarded message:
As most of you are aware, the administration has laid out the “worst-case scenario” cuts which will occur if the tax does not pass. While I hope that does not happen, I want to lay out our situation as a fire department if the tax passes. First and foremost, I am working on identifying the risks this community faces on an annual basis. This assessment is critical to the department, because ISO will be changing the ways in which they evaluate communities through the FSRS. This means that for the first time since 1980 ISO is changing the way it evaluates fire department capabilities. Many of these changes are very good and based off of NFPA. For example, organization and deployment of the fire department, Fire Officer qualifications, Automotive Apparatus and Emergency Vehicle Operator standards will be used to rate the organization.
These changes will drive the future of this fire department. ISO is coming out and for the first time stating that geographical location of a fire station will not be the sole consideration in the deployment of an organization. Department’s may elect to use this old way of thinking if they so choose. We however will utilize a new tool in the ISO and that is striving to meet NFPA 1710 Standard for Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations and Special Operations. To sum this standard up, dispatch has 15 seconds to pick up the emergency call, 60 seconds to gather enough information to start a response, 60 seconds for the fire department to receive the call and sign on that they are enroute and finally 4 minutes for the primary engine to get on scene. This is what is meant by a performance measure. Can our personnel (if focused) receive a call, get on the truck in a timely fashion and get on scene to in time to satisfy 1710 90 % of the time?
Why is this important? Because the question from the public now becomes…. We know what the cuts are? What will you do to prevent this from happening in a few years if I vote yes? The answer is simple… We are going to evaluate the risk to the community and focus our resources on that risk. Station placement, personnel and so forth will be matched to the risks this community faces. A GIS map is being developed which identifies the high, medium and low hazard properties (as defined by NFPA). This information will be over-laid with annual fire run responses going back five years. Once the map is completed we will analyze the deployment of our stations, apparatus and staff.
It is my belief, that when you factor in the changes to ISO which also include: Emergency Vehicle Operator, Fire Officer, Community Risk Reduction, Fire Apparatus and Equipment and all other considerations it is likely we will transition into a three station fire department and more importantly and performance based fire department. Currently, I do not have enough clean data to determine if Station 3 or 4 are properly placed to meet NFPA 1710 in a three station system. Why no clean data? Several reasons. We have never taken serious the need to meet the standard mentioned previously for response. Dispatch time are subjective, the primary responding engine does not always get radio time to answer first and meet that 60 second rule, some officers or even oic’s wait until they are half way to the run to remember to sign on or forget to announce when they are on scene immediately. The list is long and we will work to correct these time variances in the near future so we can begin to evaluate if our facilities meet the need(s) of the risks identified.
Other changes coming to the ISO are in the form of Pre-Plans. We will identify the high hazard properties and this will become our Pre-plan list. These buildings must be “reviewed” annually. Meaning we will try and physically visit them each year or we will issue a copy of them for review by the crews. The days of ISO requiring every building be inspected twice a year will be a thing of the past. We will utilize the High Hazard list to train and properly respond to incidents.
The first SAFER grant expires in late May/early June of 2013. The second SAFER grant was specifically written to transition us into a fire department of 60 full time firefighters. Specific language in the second grant stated that the department would not hiring additional personnel when someone retires or quits. The intent of the second grant is to transitions us from four stations to three. SAFER officials actually called within a week of my submission to verify that this was the intent of the grant. It was stressed to them an noted, that the goal of this second grant request was to keep our current employees working and eventually end our dependency on federal grants. This will shave approximately one million dollars off our budget and alleviate the need to continually address personnel cuts on an annual basis if we can make the transition into a compliment of 60 FF’s.
In order for these events to occur, the tax must first pass. If the tax passes, the SAFER grant will be used as a bridge to slowly roll down the hill to a three station department. IF the tax fails, we simply get there by jumping off a cliff. So, this is the situation we are facing. There is a lot of work that needs to be done to begin the planning and implementation of our goals. I hope this gives you a little insight into where we are, where we need to go and what means we will use to get there!
I am sure there are questions, and I will be speaking with the Battalion Chiefs to set up meetings where I can discuss any concerns you may have!
Thomas R. Lonyo
Thomas R. Lonyo
Findlay Fire Department
720 South Main Street
Findlay, OH 45840