Girard, Liberty Twp. firefighters say merging wouldn’t be as safe

Firefighters said if Girard's and Liberty Township's departments consolidated, response times could be 15 to 16 minutes in some cases

Girard Fire Department

LIBERTY TWP., Ohio (WYTV) – Officials in both Girard and Liberty Township are discussing possibly merging their fire departments to form a single fire district. Firefighters, however, are worried it wouldn’t be as safe.

Girard firefighter and president of the Local 1220 firefighters union, Luke Grunder, is worried about the possible merger.

He said response times from one central fire station could be 15 to 16 minutes in some cases.

“We can’t stress enough that it’s going to be detrimental to response times and to the safety of the citizens,” he said. “Insurance ratings, it’s gonna be more expensive on citizens.”

Firefighters in Liberty have concerns, too.

“I don’t want anybody to lose their job and I think with the consolidation of the two, probably about half of the firefighters would end up losing their job,” said Justin Graham, president of the Local 2075 firefighters union.

Wednesday night, the city and the township will meet to talk about moving forward with a feasibility study to determine if consolidating would be worth it.

“Our taxes are the highest in Trumbull County so the feasibility study would allow us to know if by consolidating both stations, if we could reduce that overall tax burden on our residents,” said Liberty Township Trustee Jodi Stoyak.

Girard Mayor Jim Melfi said it won’t be a rash decision.

“I will take a look at that study and break it down, and make sure that we are getting the safety and savings that the city would require.”

Liberty Township Administrator Pat Ungaro said he can’t see a downside to consolidation but said if the study determines it would be a disaster, then it would be easy to say “no.”

“Our hope is that if the trustees, and city council, and the figureheads show or see that people are against it, then…that would kind of curb this thing before it got off the ground,” Grunder said.

Citizens and anyone interested in the possible consolidation are encouraged to attend the meeting at the Liberty Township Administration building on Wednesday at 7 p.m.