Sunday, July 22, 2001

Mason may add six firefighters

By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — City Council on Monday is expected to approve the hiring of six full-time firefighters/paramedics, an important step toward becoming a full-time department.

        Council members are also expected to approve a contract with Southwest Regional Paramedics for paramedic services for three months to fill vacant shifts and cut back on overtime.

        In recent weeks, city officials have hired 17 part-time paramedics and emergency services technicians, boosting to 80 the number of part-timers. There are nine full-time positions in the fire department: three emergency medical services supervisors, two fire inspectors, two deputy chiefs, one chief and one secretary.

        The fire department has been served mostly by part- time personnel since it began in October 1998.

        City Manager Scot Lahrmer said the addition of the six firefighters is a step toward becoming a full-time fire department.

        “It's necessary for the city to move forward and bolster our service level in the fire department with the addition of full-time staff,” Mr. Lahrmer said. “The Fire Organization Committee has been working with me on reviewing structure within the fire department, and this is one of the first steps to ensuring that our service levels continue to be able to meet the needs of the growing community.”

        Mr. Lahrmer and the committee also are working to hire a new chief for the fire department. H. Michael Drumm, the most recent fire chief, resigned in May after Mr. Lahrmer told him he was not a “good fit” for the department.

        Adding more staff is considered an important step toward boosting morale and bringing stability to the fire department, which has seen three chiefs in a five-month period.

        Several firefighters have complained of low staffing and the inability to respond quickly to emergencies.

        Lt. Brad Weesner said the continued residential growth in this Warren County city of more than 22,000 residents warrants hiring more firefighters.

        “We're definitely well beyond the range of a strictly volunteer organization that we used to be,” said Lt. Weesner.

        “The size of the city has been continually increasing,” he said, “and it's just time for us to step up to the full-time status.”


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