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Hudson fire department staff is sound, but building needs improvements

By LAURA FREEMAN Reporter Published: June 14, 2017 12:00 AM

HUDSON -- Hudson City Council June 6 met with the city's safety forces to review projects in 2017 and prepare for the 2018 budget by learning what the fire department's needs will be next year and in the future.

Fire Chief Jerry Varnes said the fire department was fiscally sound with a well-trained staff.

The fire department has 4.5 full-time and 3 part-time paid staff employees with 32 volunteers who are paid hourly while on call or training, according to Communications Manager Jody Roberts. Hourly rates range from $11 to $13.

He said the department was stressing personal safety and watching out for others by being prepared and knowing the fire equipment.

Varnes said some of the new construction materials in homes burn faster and limits fighting a fire to under 10 minutes before a collapse occurs. More furnishings and items made from plastic also increase the temperature of a fire and shorten the time to fight a fire.

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"We're getting back to basics this year," Varnes said. "How to fight fire and operate the equipment."

The state of Ohio requires firefighters to have 18 hours of training a year. Hudson does 72 annual hours per volunteer, Varnes said.

The department was called 600 times for assistance in 2016.

Capital improvements for the fire department include the completion of the installation of five new tornado sirens in the city. A $64,000 grant helped pay for the $135,000 project. Residents will hear the monthly testing.

Another big project is painting the Akron fire hydrants in the city. The city had to wait for permission from Akron to do the job, which will go out for bid in June and should be completed in October.

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The biggest project will be the safety center renovations, which could cost from $1 million to $1.5 million to upgrade the 1955, 1979 and 1992 portions of the center. According to the 2017 budget, more than $1.4 million is estimated as the ending balance for 2017 in the fire department budget.

"It shows wear and tear and needs help," Varnes said. "There are major exterior repairs and the desire to add a modern addition for the vehicles."

If the department receives the financing, the project would be done in 2018 or 2019, he said.

The fire department has seven new volunteers this year, with a long list for those wanting to join.

"The threat is EMS volunteers," Varnes said. "If the fire department is forced to take over the EMS, there could be a threat to volunteerism."

Volunteer forces allow more money to go toward equipment, he said.

It takes approximately two minutes more for Hudson fire volunteers to respond to a call than staffed departments because they have to report from work or home to the fire station before going to the call. But Hudson has approximately 15 volunteers reporting to a call while seven firefighters may respond from a staffed station in other cities, Varnes said.

Although other fire departments provide mutual aid, their style of fighting a fire and communication equipment can be different from Hudson's methods, he said.

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP

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