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Ohio FD places 4-mile limit on mutual aid after neighboring FD cuts staffing

Lima Fire Department mutual aid limit seeks to keep a minimum number of crews available in city


Lima Fire Department Engine 1.

Lima Fire Department/Facebook

By Mackenzi Klemann
The Lima News

BATH TOWNSHIP, Ohio — The Lima Fire Department is limiting mutual aid to Bath Township to a four-mile radius from Central Station on S. Main Street due to an increase in mutual aid calls from the Bath Fire Department, which cut staffing after a failed levy campaign in November.

The new limits, outlined in an email from Deputy Fire Chief Lee Short to Bath Chief Joseph Kitchen on Feb. 6 , say Lima Fire intends to keep at least two engines and one EMS squad in service for emergency calls in Lima.

“It would be difficult for us putting a crew that’s going to end up being all the way up on Cool Road " to respond to an emergency call in Lima, Lima Fire Chief Andy Heffner told The Lima News.

Records show that Bath is increasingly dependent on mutual and automatic aid from neighboring fire departments for emergency calls since the township started budget cuts in November, as minimum staffing levels in Bath declined from four to two people per 24-hour shift.

Lima Fire provided mutual aid to Bath 12 times in January and February alone, while Bath Fire has not given mutual aid to Lima since Sept. 2022, according to statistics provided by Heffner.

Perry Township records show the township fire department has provided mutual aid to Bath at least seven times this year while Bath assisted Perry once, a significant increase over the 15 mutual aid calls Perry made to Bath in 2023.

Emails from Kitchen to township trustees show Bath is requesting mutual or automatic aid more frequently because its crews are already responding to other emergency calls.

Among the incidents highlighted by the emails are a Jan. 28 emergency call during which an Allen County sheriff’s deputy drove an ambulance to Lima Memorial Health System so Bath’s only two EMS providers on duty could care for a trauma patient who was injured in a hit-and-run crash, according to an email from Kitchen to the trustees.

Platoon Chief Jared Jenkins “was frustrated that because of current staffing levels, only two EMS providers were on duty—it was difficult to provide the proper level of care provided,” Kitchen wrote.

When the patient died at Lima Memorial Health System, Kitchen wrote that he “attempted to reassure Jared that I was confident that they did all they could and that I appreciated their efforts.”

Bath Fire needed mutual aid on three fire calls between Jan. 1 and Feb. 6, including a smoke alarm at Procter & Gamble, a house fire on Harding Highway and a propane tank explosion that caused a garage fire on Leonard Avenue, Kitchen wrote to the trustees when he informed them of the new Lima mutual aid guidelines on Feb. 6.

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