SPRING VALLEY TOWNSHIP — Spring Valley Township has two levies on the November ballot that would provide for better staffing of the township fire department.
One is a renewal of a five-year, 2.0 mill levy. The other will replace a levy from 1976 that will add an additional two mills on a permanent basis. The bond would cost residents an additional $8.75 per month or $105 annually.
The Spring Valley Fire Department said this bond will help move toward consistent staffing to better serve the community. Currently a volunteer fire department, Spring Valley has seen an increase in calls even as the number of volunteers has dwindled.
Fire Chief Rusty Cross said he anticipates 600 calls a year in the next few years.
“Call volume has increased between 12 and 50 percent,” he said. “Medical calls have gone up significantly in the past few years.”
Spring Valley has an influx of people who are looking for experience but will then move to someplace that isn’t volunteer. Recent changes to the structure of the fire department have been geared toward retaining some of that workforce.
Spring Valley currently has a mix of full time, part time, and volunteer workers. If the bond issue passes, the department will retain that mix but ensure staffing 24 hours a day. In March, the department also shifted to include six “pay on call” volunteers. These firefighters are classified as volunteers but are reimbursed for their work if there is a fire or medical emergency. Cross said the move to this new format has improved the department’s response times.
“In an emergency, time is everything,” he said. “Prior to March, our nighttime response times were between 6 and 15 minutes depending on the type of day. Since March, response times have been less than two minutes.”
The fire department recently received a grant in the amount of $1.5 million for purposes of staffing to ensure firefighters were on-call 24 hours a day. It is anticipated that this grant will jump-start the staffing process, and the funding from the bond issue will continue it.
“Spring Valley is a slow growing community. We’re small, and we have very little commercial presence. It makes it hard to get volunteers,” Cross said. “It’s about always having someone at the station to respond, and that’s what’s important.”
Reach London Bishop at (937) 502-4532
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