West Carrollton expands fire department staffing as part of levy promise

When West Carrollton officials asked voters to approve a 5-year renewable 3.9-mill fire levy, they said one of the reasons for wanting to do so was to expand fire department staffing.

On Tuesday, a year after that $672,000 levy was approved, full-time firefighter/paramedics Dennis Mays, Kyle Norman, Michael VanSkoyck and Mikayla Zonker took the oath of office during a regularly scheduled city council meeting,

All four firefighters come from within the department and have served on a part-time basis for the fire department for between 18 months to seven years, according to Heidi Van Antwerp, the city’s spokeswoman.

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“One of the benefits that we have in our department is that we can groom people to be our next career people,” said West Carrollton Fire Chief Chris Barnett.

All four firefighter/paramedics officially started in their full-time roles March 15. The approximate starting package for each is between $90,000 to $95,000 inclusive of salary and benefits, Van Antwerp said.

City officials previously said the levy was aimed at stabilizing the department’s emergency response times by hiring four additional full-time firefighter/paramedics as well as increasing the incentive pay and benefits for part-time positions.

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The city’s former operating model for its fire department saw it heavily dependent on part-time firefighters and saw the temporary closures of services or stations.

Prior to the four new full-time hires, the department was staffed with nine career personnel, Van Antwerp said. West Carrollton Fire Department now consists of 13 career personnel — one chief, three captains, and nine firefighters — and 17 part-time personnel.

In 2016, West Carrollton’s Fire Department had about 45 part-time and seven full-time staff, he previously said. The number of part-time staff dropped to 35 and 25 in 2017 and 2018, respectively, before dipping to 22 in 2019, Barnett previously said.

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