Miami Township Fire-Rescue to increase event staffing, permit costs
- Published: July 18, 2023
At the most recent Miami Township Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday, July 5, the trustees unanimously approved a measure to increase the cost of future festival permit fees issued by Miami Township Fire-Rescue, or MTFR, for their services.
The cost of a festival permit, which is required by the Ohio Fire Code, or OFC, increased from a flat rate of $25 to $.08 per anticipated event attendee.
The request to raise the fee came from Fire Chief Colin Altman who, at Tuesday’s meeting, told trustees that the hike will help buoy MTFR personnel costs the department incurs from staffing large events such as Street Fair and Pride.
“The fire code gives [MTFR] the ability to reasonably set our fees based on the services and resources that we provide,” Altman said. “We’ve always tried to do that, but as events have grown, it’s become a strain for both the village and township to provide those services.”
To illustrate this point, Altman said the most recent Street Fair — which drew an estimated 23,000 people to Yellow Springs on Saturday, June 10 — cost MTFR $2,482.94 to staff the event.
For their services on the day, including 48 hours of emergency planning before the event, responding to 11 EMS calls during the fair, inspecting every food truck and staffing a first aid booth, the department billed the Chamber of Commerce $1,050, thereby recouping only 42% of what it cost the department.
The new festival permit fee, however, may prove to help MTFR pay for its services at large village events like Street Fair. For example, had the fee rate of charging $.08 per attendee been implemented before the June event, MTFR would have invoiced the chamber for $1,840 instead of $25, in addition to the cost of the staffing services mentioned above.
The growing price tag for MTFR’s services at events also comes from a shifting approach to staffing them.
At the June Street Fair, MTFR piloted a new staff model that Altman said worked well: On-hand personnel included a two-person ambulance crew, at $50 per hour for both crewmembers; a two-person bike crew, also at $50 per hour for both; and a fire inspector/supervisor for $75 per hour.
Altman said that although that model proved to be successful, MTFR did not bill the Chamber for the trial; however the department intends to do so in the future for village events of 10,000 people or more.
For an eight-hour deployment, that five-person crew would cost $2,200.
Putting all the costs together — a $75 tent permit, the new festival permit fee of $.08 per attendee and the on-hand five-person staffing cost — MTFR is looking to bill the Chamber of Commerce approximately $3,355 for future Street Fairs, should they have similar attendance as the June event this year.
“So, in theory, this new structure will cover all our costs for the day,” Altman said.
As Altman later clarified for the News, under their new fee and staffing models, MTFR will only provide on-hand staffing services for events larger than 5,000 attendees — which are typically only Street Fair and Pride. Permitting fees are required only for events that bring over 1,000 attendees.
In other MTFR business:
Assistant Chief Denny Powell reported at the Wednesday, June 21, trustees meeting that MTFR firefighter TJ Fries recently completed the paramedic program and is now nationally registered and state certified as a paramedic. He also reported that four MTFR employees had recently received training to perform grain bin rescue, bringing the department’s number of trainees in the techniques to 10. Powell estimated that there are 70 grain bins in Miami Township.
“There are a number of grain bins in the county, but [Miami] Township definitely has the bulk of them.” Powell said. “They’re pretty unique hazards and quite deadly, so obviously training for those is pretty important.”
In other Township Trustee business:
Also on June 21, Trustee Chris Mucher said the Township has, for several decades, had a fund in its accounts earmarked for Clifton Cemetery, which contains $4,245.91.
“We don’t have responsibility for Clifton’s finances, so why are we holding money that’s marked ‘Clifton Cemetery?’” he asked.
Mucher later explained that the funds likely came from a 32-year-old bequeathal to the then-Clifton Fire Department. According to a historical timeline on the MTFR website, Miami Township was given jurisdiction over both the Yellow Springs and Clifton fire departments in 1951, but the two departments consolidated into one location as Miami Township Fire-Rescue in 1994. A few years before that consolidation, the late Harold J. Cordes bequeathed $41,000 to the Clifton Fire Department for the purchase of a new ambulance. The funds remaining following that purchase, Mucher said, and a misattribution of the funds to “Clifton Cemetery’’ rather than “Clifton Fire Department’’ likely explain the mysterious monies.
Mucher added that the Township also currently has $269,000 in a designated building fund — about $119,000 of which came from the sale of the former MTFR building on Corry Street — which were placed in the wrong account and can’t currently be used.
Mucher said he would speak with Greene County Auditor David A. Graham about the funds, which the trustees intend to use to pay down some of the debt on the new Herman Street firehouse.