With the rapid expansion of Morrow County, throngs of new residents are flocking to former farm land. As a result, the county is in need of additional fire services, as well as upgrades to current available services.
The average response time to a southern Morrow County fire is over 15 minutes, which means that by the time firefighters get to a scene, maximum damage has likely occurred.
“Until someone needs us, they don’t think of us. We are 100 percent volunteers,” says Chief Lauri Lovell of the Big Walnut Joint Fire District, which is comprised of 28 volunteer members covering 75 square miles and protecting 7,882 people in Southern Morrow County.
In order to effectively and equitably provide services to the entire district, a shared service levy will appear on the ballot this November before voters in Chester Township.
The Big Walnut Joint Fire District is comprised of Bennington Township and Marengo; and contracts for fire service with Chester Twp., Harmony Twp. and the Village of Chesterville.
The fire chief is currently campaigning for all contracting entities to join the district at a 2.5 mill levy. Chester Twp. currently has a 2.5 mill levy on the ballot for November 2016.
In joining Big Walnut the municipalities will help solidify the district, as well as provide an equal tax base for equal service.
In hopes to help with the much needed improvements to fire service and response time.
The 2.5 mill levy would raise rates on a home valuated at $100,000 from the current $44.45 per year to $87.50 in both Chester and Harmony Townships and in Chesterville the rate would jump from $35 to $87.50.
“The BWJFD fire board has been meticulous with funds for over a decade and was recently able to purchase a new brush truck. The fire board has been watchful over finances and have paid off the loan for the current Marengo Fire Station building. That revenue is now going towards a loan on a new engine,” stated Chief Lovell in regards to the current financial situation of the BWJFD and their fiscal accountability.
The old brush truck, a former pickup truck now outfitted to fight fires, will now be housed at the Chesterville Station.
Without passage of the levy Chesterville will have to make do with older vehicles and equipment, as their station is not big enough to house modern equipment because it was built in the 1940’s as a dealership and car garage.
The ballot proposal stipulates that the additional revenue for the district will go to improve response time, hire staff at fire stations, maintain proper equipment and eventually build a new fire station in Chesterville.
Volunteer firefighters from the Big Walnut Joint Fire District work during a training exercise.
Volunteer firefighters from the Big Walnut Joint Fire District show off their equipped firefighting vehicle.
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