Local fire departments consider creating regional fire district

By Dan Wells - bio | email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -- What firefighters protect -- not just homes, but lives -- is priceless. But their services are among the most expensive that governments provide.

That's why 11 Hamilton County municipalities are looking to see if they can keep you safe at a lower cost.

The cities have applied for a state grant aimed at exploring the benefits of a regional fire district. Some say it could benefit the area, while others say they want the issue to really be studied.

"We in Lockland along with most of our neighbors are always looking to do things better and produce better results at a lower cost," said David Krings with the village of Lockland.

And that's the reason officials from Arlington Heights, Elmwood Place, Forest Park, Glendale, Greenhills, Lincoln Heights, Lockland, Springdale, Springfield Township, Woodlawn and Wyoming are now looking into the possibility of a joint fire district.

"One of the things that's a fallacy is that folks feel this is a consolidation," said Chief Robert Rielage with they Wyoming Fire Department. "It's not. It's a grant application to see if there are cooperative efforts that's a big difference.

Those cooperative efforts could include identifying overlaps in training, inspections and equipment.

Kevin Kaiser is president of the Hamilton County Fire Chiefs Association and says the study is a good idea.

"In general we think consolidation is good, considering they have to be done for the right reasons and its up to each community to decide what type of fire protection they want and then bring that into their community," said Kaiser.

But consultants could come back with a number of suggestions other than one joint fire district.

"Part of our job is to present that data to the governing boards, the city councils and mayors to review that data and make up their minds from the policy level which way is the best way to go," said Krings.

So what is the exact time frame of the regional fire department study?

"Even if this is funded within the next couple of months we're looking at a year before that report would be issued," said Rielage.

A decision on whether the grant application has been approved is expected within 30 days.