Mariemont fire department may merge

By Dan Wells - bio | email

VILLAGE OF MARIEMONT, OH (FOX19) - The village of Mariemont's fire department could soon be closing shop.

Village leaders are recommending a levy on the May 5 ballot to join the Little Miami Fire District.

Mariemont village leaders say the overall move could mean savings for the village and people living there.

But firefighters say the quality of service could suffer.

Right now, the Little Miami Fire District covers Fairfax, Newtown and part of Columbia Township.

Right in the middle of that is Mariemont, which has it's own fire department of five full time employees, and a coverage area of about a mile.

But that could all change if village officials take a consolidation levy to Mariemont voters on May 5.

"If they are over in one of their other areas that they cover, the question rises who is going to come here," said Mariemont fire chief Jack Phifer. "That is a big question mark. Being fire chief, I have concerns myself, with who is going to protect residents with us not being here there maybe a delay in response time."

Merger supporters say the move would save the village money without sacrificing fire and emergency services.

"Well there has nothing been said about taking my staff," said Phifer. "My staff is I guess going to be put on the street."

Little Miami Fire District chief Tom Driggers didn't want to go on camera but tells FOX19 if the levy is passes, additional staff would be hired to cover the area, and says the entire district would eventually pay a lower tax rate.

Residents say there is still a lot to be learned.

"Of course it all depends on how much money we're talking about as far as raising taxes," said Mariemont resident Terry Boyle. "'You get what you pay for."

"Do I know enough about it if I had to vote now? I would want to a couple more facts," said resident Bob Crosset. "How much is the real savings?"

If the proposal passes, Mariemont would join the fire district Jan. 1, 2010.

Public meetings on the proposed merge and levies are planned but not yet scheduled.