Mad River Twp. officials deny ‘vengeance’ after hiring new fire/EMS employees, raising pay

Twelve hires were made by the Mad River Twp. trustees Friday morning during a special meeting and the trustees voted to give every employee at the firehouse a $1-an-hour raise.

Mad River Twp. Fire and EMS lost 12 experienced employees Monday and Tuesday this week to resignations following the announcement that no changes in fire leadership were going to take place. The employees included captains, lieutenants, crew leaders, paramedics and fire inspectors.

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The trustees met during a special meeting called to discuss personnel and compensation. They called the meeting to order at around 7:40 a.m. and promptly went into executive session.

The executive session lasted about 40 minutes before the trustees reentered the meeting and voted to approve 12 applications. Many of the candidates were level two firefighters and those with emergency medical experience.

The new hires will have to undergo background and reference checks before beginning to work. A timeline for when they can start the job wasn’t immediately available.

After hiring the new employees, the trustees then approved the raise.

“In January and February when we were doing the budget, we said we were going to revisit in June or July a raise for the firefighters and EMS. I think at this time, I’d like to make a motion,” Mad River Twp. Trustee Joe Catanzaro said.

He said he spoke with Mad River Twp. Fiscal Officer David Rudy to ensure finances were appropriate for the move.

The raise for a dollar an hour was approved by all three trustees.

Some members in the crowd, some of whom were employees that resigned early this week and their families, spoke up about the raise.

Mad River Twp. Trustee Bob McClure said because it was a special meeting, no public comment would be heard on the matter and the meeting was adjourned.

McClure and trustee Kathy Estep spoke with the Springfield News-Sun after the meeting and said the raise was not out of vengeance.

“This is an incentive,” Estep said.

“This was announced that we were going to monitor and review midyear and look into the possibility of another increase,” McClure said.

Estep said the trustees were hoping to give the raise earlier in the year.

“It’s not a punishment,” she said. “It should be an incentive to those people who have stayed and are doing a lot of work for us. They’ve put in a great deal of time and effort. We need to pay people appropriately.”

The pay increase will also help recruit more employees, Estep said. Rudy told the Springfield News-Sun the new pay scale is between $12.75 for a level one firefighter and $16 for a paramedic.

Former employees who attended the meeting declined to comment Friday morning about the developments.

Mad River Twp. Fire and EMS employee Scott Sells said Friday the firehouse has covered every run since the mass exit.

“Since the May 21, we’ve done 24 runs —- two gas leaks and the rest were EMS runs,” Sells said. “We did have two auto accidents. Out of those, we’ve asked for zero mutual aids and we’ve provided one mutual aid to the city of Fairborn.”

“We’ve taken two calls outside our area on the highway,” Sells said. “Overall, our response times have been under six minutes — five minutes and 45 seconds. That’s better than our 2018 average by almost two minutes.”

Estep said regardless of the adversity, the firehouse is here to protect the community.

“Our priority is to serve our residents,” she said. “And provide the safety services that they expect and so far the people who have stayed have been able to do that.”

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