Hartford, Brookfield weigh fire contract

By John W. Goodwin Jr.

Hartford’s trustees plan to have a decision in the near future.

BROOKFIELD — The Brookfield Township Fire Department may be entering into a contract to provide services for Hartford Township in the very near future.

Brookfield fire officials have made a proposal to Hartford trustees to provide services to Hartford Township under a three-year contract. Hartford trustees plan to make a decision on the proposal sometime in September.

Rebecca Whitman, Hartford trustee, said Hartford Township has only a volunteer fire department, which leaves Brookfield to respond to many emergency calls in Hartford.

According to a letter from Hartford Township trustees, Hartford had 221 emergency squad and fire calls in 2007. Of the 221 calls, Brookfield responded 166 times.

“We feel it is unfair for them to continue to do this without compensation so we are trying to contract with them for their services,” she said.

Brookfield Fire Chief Keith Barrett has proposed two options for continued service to Hartford Township. He said the plans allow Hartford to continue receiving services, and contribute more money to those services.

One option given to Hartford trustees is a pay-per-call plan, where the township would be billed for each call to which Brookfield responds. Estimates provided by Barrett say the annual cost to Hartford would be about $43,000.

Barrett has also offered a second plan that would cover three years.

In the first year of the three-year plan Hartford would pay Brookfield a flat rate of $25,000 and maintain its own trucks and existing fire station. Brookfield would be responsible for fuel and handle all administration and recruitment.

In the second year of the agreement, Hartford would place a fire levy on the ballot to generate enough funds for two paid firefighters to work daytime hours. The third year of the agreement calls for both townships to “blend” into a joint fire district with both communities passing continuing levies.

Brookfield Fire Department currently operates on a 6.3-mill levy generating about $800,000 annually. Hartford, under the agreement, would also have a 6.3-mill levy generating about $243,000.

The Hartford Township volunteer department now operates on about $19,000 annually.

Whitman said nothing is set in stone, but Hartford trustees plan to have a decision so a plan can be put into place soon.

“We are definitely going to make a decision based on the information we have here. We want to do that so we can have something in place to start the new year,” she said.

Hartford trustees said they want to see how a joint fire district will affect insurance rates for homeowners in the township.