Wednesday, December 14th, 2011
By William Kincaid
Coldwater, Celina fire departments may join in mutal aid agreement
  CELINA - The city fire department is again being asked to help a neighboring department.
City council members this week passed first reading of an ordinance authorizing the mayor and fire chief to authorize an automatic mutual aid agreement with Coldwater Fire Department. The city recently approved a similar agreement with the Mendon Fire Department.
The agreement says the city will automatically respond to structure fires in Butler Township instead of waiting for a call for back-up, and Coldwater will do the same for Celina in Jefferson Township West.
If approved by Celina and Coldwater councils, either party could choose to terminate the agreement by issuing a 30-day notice.
Celina Fire Chief Doug Wolters said Coldwater would send a fire engine, fire tanker and manpower to fires in Jefferson Township West, while Celina would send a fire engine and four to five firefighters to any calls north of state Route 219, excluding the village, and a fire engine and two firefighters to fires east of state Route 118 and south of state Route 219.
Wolters pointed out Celina would be first priority in the event of simultaneous calls. Also, if Celina is lacking manpower or equipment, its response would be reduced or canceled, he said.
"Coldwater fully understands that," Wolters told council.
Coldwater made the request to improve the department's Insurance Service Office (ISO) rating, Wolters said. Homeowners and businesses in the townships could have a significant savings in insurance costs after ISO re-evaluates the department, he wrote in a report.
Councilman Mike Sovinski pointed out that the people in Butler Township will benefit from the city's taxpayer-funded department.
"I'm all in favor of this, but we're giving something away here," he said. "We need to make sure we get goodwill out of this."
Wolters said benefits to the city would include a good working relationship with mutual aid departments, additional manpower and water at structure fires in Jefferson Township, heightened firefighter safety, a better chance at obtaining grants and an improved ISO rating.
All council members except June Scott voted yes to approve the ordinance to second reading. Scott questioned a clause in the ordinance that states the mayor and fire chief are authorized to enter into an agreement with Coldwater "in the same or substantially similar form as the automatic mutual aid agreement attached ... as exhibit 1."
Scott was told many ordinances passed by council include the same language.
Council members this fall also authorized a similar automatic mutual aid agreement with Mendon for response in Center Township. The agreement was requested due to a lack of ample personnel on the Mendon department during the day.
Mendon wants Celina to provide automatic mutual aid for structure fires in the entire township. In the past, Celina would ask if Mendon needed assistance before responding.
In return, Mendon's fire department will automatically respond to structure fires in Celina's coverage area of Center Township.
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