The City of London can’t afford its own emergency squad and a proposed secession from Madison County EMD stems from personal conflicts between London Fire Chief Todd Eades and EMD Chief Robert Olwin, Carla Blazier told city council on Thursday.
Blazier is a retired medic with Madison County EMD.
She said the city’s plans to establish a squad unit at the fire department do not take into consideration start-up costs for equipment nor lag-time for insurance reimbursement on runs.
As an example, she cited the city’s projected $50,000 to equip the new unit. That dollar amount is insufficient since trucks with advanced life support capabilities cost about $250,000 each.
In addition, she said the city plans to hire only three additional full-time employees to staff three trucks – another insufficient number.
Most pointedly, Blazier said the current succession proposal stems from ongoing bad blood between Eades and Olwin.
“We looked at shared protocols with both Central Townships and London fire departments,” she said. “Central Townships agreed, but London would not.”
“Chief Eades does not play well with others,” Blazier added.
Earlier in the meeting, Olwin responded to previous accusations of slow response times by his squads. He provided 2015-18 data from the Madison County Sheriff’s Office that showed his EMD units arrived on the scene of calls on an average of slightly more than 4 minutes.
But London Mayor Pat Closser argued projected start-up costs are based on the city’s current operations budget, not a 2019 budget – when a fire department-based squad is likely to begin operations.
As for staffing, the fire department will augment three new full-time squad employees with multiple part-timers, if voters approve succession in November, he added.
He also said a London fire department squad will operate like the current service.
“We will do runs exactly as Madison County EMD does,” Closser noted.
Also on Thursday, London resident Melody Earles asked council members why the city does not maintain an abandoned alley behind her Laurel Street home. Earles said the alley is overgrown and is home to raccoons and other nuisance wildlife.
She said safety-services director Joe Mosier told her the city is not responsible for the alley, although it was never vacated.
“I appreciate any help you can give me (on this),” Earles asked.
Council president Joe Russell said Earles’ situation is not an isolated incident.
“Many (unused) alleys are like this,” he said.
He advised Earles to bring the matter before the city properties commission.
Later in the meeting, council member Rex Castle said the city needs to survey its unused alleys, then turn them over to adjoining property owners.
But Russell said that would add to those owners’ property taxes. He questioned the legality of any turnovers.
In routine business action on Thursday, council:
• Agreed to vacate an unused alley that runs between South Main Street and South Union Street. The vote followed a public hearing that drew no comments either for or against.
• Authorized the board of public utilities to sell an unused and unneeded 1999 Dodge truck.
• Agreed to repay a no-interest $262,578 loan from the Ohio Public Works Commission for the Park Avenue Reconstruction Project. The project, which includes new sidewalks, bridge and storm sewer, will go out for bids in coming weeks. In addition to the loan, Closser said the OPWC also gave the city more than $1.1 million for the project. He called it “free money.”