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Fire chief: Bring back ambulance

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

GIRARD -- Fire Chief Kenneth Bornemiss says he believes the city-operated ambulance service can be reinstituted with increased fees and added manpower.
Bornemiss made the pitch during a caucus session before city council's Monday meeting.
Mayor James J. Melfi ended the ambulance service operated by the fire department at the end of last year to cut costs.
Bornemiss said that the most immediate way to reinstate the ambulance is to increase the rate structure.
Under the chief's proposal, charges of $325 and $615 per run, depending on the type of medical service provided, would increase to $500 and $860, respectively.
Two firefighters on layoff status and eight to 10 part-timers would be returned to work and an additional full-time firefighter would be hired. All revenue generated by the ambulance would be retained to fund the fire department.
"This is not a permanent solution," Bornemiss said, noting that voters will have to increase the income or property tax for a long-term solution.
Auditor Sam Zirafi said he lacked confidence that Bornemiss' proposal would work because the city hasn't had any income during January and February because there is no service.
Agreement reached
Melfi announced that the city reached an agreement Monday with Rural Metro Ambulance to station an ambulance in the city around the clock.
Rural Metro, the mayor explained, will pay the city $500 monthly to rent space to station an ambulance in the old police department, which is adjacent to the justice center where the police dispatcher who handles emergency calls is stationed.
Melfi said a private ambulance stationed in the city will decrease response time that private services have been providing. In addition, the city can terminate the agreement with a 30-day notice.
Rural Metro is offering memberships of $39.95 per year for single users and $59.95 for families for unlimited use.
Phil Cretella, president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 1220, questioned if the city was violating state law by not seeking bids to lease the city-owned space to Rural Metro.
Safety Director Frank Rich said a private attorney told him the leasing agreement without bids is legal. Law Director Mark Standohar hasn't researched the issue.
Cretella said he also believes that revenue from a 1967 levy can only be used for ambulance service.
Melfi said research has found that the levy wasn't designated for ambulance service.