fire division

Pemberville woman driving by alerts family to house fire

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Darla Baker’s desire to take the leisurely drive home Monday evening was fortuitous for a family unaware that their house was on fire. “I don’t have to hurry home,” she remembered thinking as she drove from Perrysburg to her home outside Pemberville. “I’ll take these country roads.” As she drove down Garling Road in Troy Township, she noticed some smoke from behind a house. “I thought they were cooking outside,” Baker said this morning. “But then I thought – that looks a little bit more than a smoking grill.” She took a closer look, and saw the siding on the house was melting. She hadn’t been paying attention to the road signs, so she had to drive to the end of the road to see that it was Garling Road. She called 911 and drove back to the house. Baker, who recently had foot surgery, parked in a neighbor’s driveway and went to rouse the residents where the fire was growing. “I can’t run, so I was hobbling over,” she said. “I beat on the front door and rang the doorbell.” The owner, Steven Kern came to the door, and started trying to put out to fire with a garden hose. That was a futile effort. By that time the neighbors came over and together they got Kern’s wife, Jennifer out of the house in her motorized wheelchair. “You could hear sizzling,” Baker said of the expanding fire. “Then stuff started exploding.” Initially, she thought it might have been a gas grill tank exploding, but it turned out to be multiple oxygen tanks in the home. “It was crazy,” she said. Baker said she asked Kern if they had been grilling out, thinking it possibly caught the house on fire. Kern said they hadn’t been, but that they had been having electrical issues with an addition put onto the home. Both Steven and Jennifer have physical disabilities. “They put the addition on so it was handicapped accessible,” Baker said. One dog was rescued from the home, but two dogs and three cats were lost in the fire. Baker said Jennifer Kern passed out in the neighbor’s driveway, and was transported to a Toledo area hospital. “The fire department got there lickety split,” Baker said of the response by Troy Township Fire Department, which quickly set up a water relay. Neighboring departments joined in the effort to put out the blaze. “The trucks were five deep.” “It was so hot and so windy,” she said. “The house was…

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BG swears in fire chief; names charter review members

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green has selected people who will be putting out literal and figurative fires in the city. City Council swore in a new fire chief and fire officers on Monday evening, plus appointed a team of people charged with updating the city’s charter. Bill Moorman was sworn in as fire chief, followed by David Hagemeyer as captain, and Aaron Baer as lieutenant.  The council chamber was packed with family and friends of the firefighters being promoted. After the swearing-in ceremony, city resident Mark Heider asked to address council. Heider described how his father recently had a medical emergency when he was riding in his son’s vehicle. A police officer arrived quickly on the scene and took over administering CPR. Soon after, the fire and EMS crew arrived and worked to revive his father. Though his father did not survive, Heider said he wanted to publicly thank the crew that responded. They showed great skill and caring in their treatment of his father and other family members who arrived at the hospital. In other business on Monday, members of the newly-formed city charter review committee were named, with Shannon Orr and Jeff Crawford as co-chairs. Other members include Evelyn Bachman, Les Barber, Julie Broadwell, Sylvia Chandler, Holly Cipriani, Bill Culbertson, Greg Dickerson, John Fawcett, Gary Hess, Mark Hollenbaugh, Sarah Klotz, Chet Marcin, Rachel Phipps, Andy Schocket and Tom Walton. The members selected present a cross section of city residents, Council President Mike Aspacher said. “We’re very eager for the committee to begin its work,” Aspacher said. The first meeting of the charter group will be Feb. 22, at 4 p.m., in the City Council chambers. The goal of the committee is to have its work completed by the end of May. Also at Monday’s meeting, Aspacher assigned council’s public lands committee to study the issue of food trucks operating in the city. The committee, which includes Bill Herald, Sandy Rowland and John Zanfardino, will study ways that food trucks or other mobile vendors may be allowed to do business in Bowling Green. In other business at Monday’s meeting: Heider, after thanking the first responders, addressed another issue involving the $5 fee charged by the city for additional trash bins at residences. His mother no longer needs two bins, and he would like the city to reimburse his family for the $60 a year fee. Council heard from Mary Hinkelman, of Downtown BG, about the annual Winterfest Chillabration this weekend. Council recognized Bob McOmber for his 12 years of…


BG eyes 2018 goals – neighborhoods, food trucks, downtown cameras and more

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Neighborhood revitalization, food trucks, more cameras in the downtown bar district, and code enforcement by police made the list of 2018 goals for Bowling Green city officials. City department heads listed their top priorities for the year during a work session held Saturday morning for city council. Mayor Dick Edwards set the tone. “This is going to be a very ambitious year, and if we think otherwise, we’ll get smacked right in the face with it,” Edwards said. The mayor repeated some of the projects he mentioned at last week’s council meeting, including progress on Wooster Green, East Wooster corridor, and new City Park building. Unlike those highly visible projects, the city will also be updating its charter – making sure the effort is “citizen-driven,” Edwards said. And efforts will be made to define the city’s goal of being a “welcoming community.” The mayor talked about the city’s goal to become more diversified industrially. Sue Clark, the city’s economic development director, has reported increased interest in the city. “The phone has been ringing off the wall,” Edwards said. “It spells a very promising picture for 2018,” Edwards said, noting the importance of economic growth to city services. Edwards revisited a topic that consumed much of last year – the Nexus pipeline.  “That was gut-wrenching at times for all of us. That’s going to be a special challenge for us in 2018,” he said. City officials still have not been given a timeline for the pipeline construction. Concerns continue, the mayor said, about state legislation that could have negative effects on municipalities. Edwards has talked with State Sen. Randy Gardner and State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, both R-Bowling Green, about the state’s plans for 2018. “They keep talking in very positive terms about supporting local government,” Edwards said about state officials. “All the words coming out of Columbus are encouraging, but the proof is in the pudding.” The mayor also took time to try resurrecting the city historic preservation effort that was started and then dropped. “I would at least like to get something before you that you can address,” he said to council. Cities like Toledo are taking advantage of tax credits to revitalize downtown historic areas. Bowling Green could do the same, Edwards said. “Other communities have really been benefitting from this,” he said. Each of the city’s department heads also listed some goals for 2018. Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter said she would like to work on updating city regulations for permitting peddlers, solicitors and itinerant merchants….


BG’s retiring fire chief challenged the status quo

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Tom Sanderson was driving home from work one night decades ago when he came upon an injury accident. The only help on the scene was a state trooper, so Sanderson offered to assist. After the victim was on the way to a hospital, an emergency responder approached Sanderson and asked, “have you ever thought about being a paramedic or firefighter,” he recalled. Sanderson had started his career at the other end of the emergency patient process, as a respiratory therapist at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo. “I was at the receiving end of a lot of trauma,” Sanderson said. But that encounter on the way home from work resulted in his life taking a different turn. That planted a seed that he could not squelch. Now, after 33 years in firefighting, with the last 3 ½ as Bowling Green’s chief, Sanderson is retiring on Jan. 25. Sanderson started out as a volunteer firefighter and paramedic in his hometown of Perrysburg. “I will always remember my first run, it was just a chimney fire. But I will always remember it,” he said. “I loved it.” Since then, he has been on call round the clock – first for the fire whistle, then fire phones, then pagers. “You don’t punch out,” he said. As chief, it’s been a little different. “It’s difficult to go from responding to emergencies and stepping off the fire truck or the ambulance,” to managing the division, Sanderson said. “I miss that.” But Sanderson has kept himself busy the last 3 ½ years by challenging some of firefighting’s long-standing operating traditions. Sanderson wasn’t content with the status quo as fire chief, according to Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter. He saw the purpose of the division as far more than putting out fires and responding to EMS calls. “Tom really proved to be the agent of change,” Tretter said. “He has accomplished so very much in his time as chief.” First, Sanderson believed in the value of the fire division partnering with the community. “I wanted to make the fire division very accessible to the community,” he said. So he started a “community risk reduction program,” designed to improve safety for citizens as well as firefighters. Instead of focusing on putting out fires, the fire division redirected its attention toward preventing fires from occurring. “That’s been very well supported by the community,” the chief said. For years, fire safety tips had been shared at schools. “The fire prevention program in Bowling Green had been primarily…


Bitter cold takes toll on city workers and equipment

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green residents count on city workers to plow snow off the roads, respond to car crashes, and keep the power on during winter weather. Doing that in bitter cold weather takes a toll on city equipment and on the people that operate it. Snow plow blades are more likely to break in this cold, police cruisers have to run continuously during shifts, and fire hoses have been known to freeze. “We subject our officers to being out in the elements for extended periods,” Police Chief Tony Hetrick said. That’s tough on people and patrol cars. Layering only does so much, and “they run constantly in the cold,” the chief said of the police cruisers. For the Fire Division, the frigid cold means EMS crews must move even faster for outside calls. “We need to move quickly to get patients out of the elements,” Fire Chief Tom Sanderson said. Firefighting is especially tricky in freezing temperatures. “We have to keep them flowing,” Sanderson said of the hoses. But that means the ground quickly gets covered in ice. The city’s public works department often spreads salt at winter fire scenes to try to give firefighters and their vehicles some traction. “We haven’t had to chisel our fire hose out of the ice yet this week,” Sanderson said. Public works crews face their own problems, with the extreme cold taking a toll on equipment, according to Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter. Snow plow blades tend to break very easily, she said. And trash containers become increasingly brittle and are more prone to breaking, she added. The city utilities department recommends its consumer-owners take the following precautions to help prevent water lines and meters from freezing this winter: Protect exposed pipes from cold air drafts by closing and sealing windows and openings in basements or crawlspaces. Protect your water meter by wrapping it with insulation or a blanket. Provide proper insulation for walls and pipes where necessary. If your water meter is in the garage, take precautions to protect it and keep the garage door closed. If pipes cannot be shielded from the cold or the residence has a history of frozen water lines or meters, run a small stream of cold water from an indoor faucet to keep water moving through your pipes. Make sure the drain is open and clear to allow water to escape. Keep your thermostat set above 55 degrees, even if you will be away for several days. Turn off water to your washing machine. Try…


Bill Moorman selected as next BG fire chief

By JAN LARON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bill Moorman started his firefighting career battling bush fires in Australia. Next month, he will take over as chief of the Bowling Green Fire Division. “I’m very excited,” Moorman said Thursday morning after the announcement was made. “The very first day I turned up for work here at Bowling Green Fire, I was blown away by the professionalism and the equipment.” Even then, 24 years ago, Moorman dreamed of becoming chief some day. “Finally it happened,” he said. Moorman will be taking over the seat currently held by Chief Tom Sanderson, who is retiring after 3 and a half years in the top position and 33 years in fire service. Sanderson said Moorman is a good choice as the new chief. “Bill has been here for 24 years. He has a very strong resume – a lot of fire training, a lot of rescue training and a lot of leadership training,” Sanderson said. “He will provide the best services possible for the community.” Moorman, with his outgoing demeanor and Australian accent, is also well-known in the community. The official announcement of Moorman’s promotion was made by Mayor Dick Edwards. “Bill Moorman is a true professional fire official—hardworking, dedicated, and highly motivated,” Edwards said in a press release Thursday morning. “Bill has proven to be an excellent leader who is thoughtful and innovative.” “I am confident that under Bill’s direction, the already highly qualified and internationally accredited Bowling Green Fire Division will do great things,” the mayor continued. “He will continue the legacy of effective and efficient fire and emergency medical services this city has come to expect. Bill, I am sure, will find new ways to improve the division. He is someone who is tough yet personable and compassionate—putting the citizens of Bowling Green first.” Moorman has worked for the Bowling Green Fire Division since 1994 when he was hired as a firefighter/paramedic. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1999 and captain in 2014. He holds numerous certifications including paramedic, fire safety instructor, advanced arson and explosive investigator, dive rescue, and ice rescue technician among others. Moorman, who will take over the chief position on Jan. 27, plans to continue Sanderson’s focus on fire prevention in the community. That includes educating residents and business owners about minimizing fire risks. “That’s extremely valuable, anytime you can be proactive,” Moorman said. “We will be working with them to make the community as safe as possible.” Outside the fire division, Moorman has served in leadership roles with the Boy Scouts…


Landlord and renter responsibilities examined in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   In a college town with nearly 7,000 rental units, there’s an awful lot of headbutting between landlords and renters and homeowning neighbors. When problems occur with home maintenance, is it the landlords’ responsibility to prove that their housing meets safety standards? Or is the onus on the renters to notify authorities if their housing is substandard? For years, Bowling Green officials have debated this question. Other Ohio college towns – like Kent, Oxford and Athens – have mandatory rental inspection and licensing programs. Bowling Green has preferred to make sure there are services in place that respond to rental problems as they arise. Following are various viewpoints in Bowling Green, including those from Mayor Dick Edwards, BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey and landlord Bob Maurer. Those who respond to complaints – the health district, fire division, building inspection and planning office – also share their perspectives. People closest to the students, like BGSU legal services and some East Side residents, also weigh in. And officials from rental inspection programs in Athens, Kent and Oxford talk about their experiences. EYE-OPENING TOUR Early this fall, some BGSU students asked their professor Neocles Leontis to help them get out of a lease at a rental property they felt was unsafe. “I could not believe it was allowed to be rented,” said Rose Hess, who toured the house. Photos taken during the tour show a ceiling fan dangling from the ceiling, a filthy washing machine that wasn’t working, a dryer that was not vented, a stove that didn’t work, fuse boxes without covers, and bricks holding open windows. “These properties are unrentable, yet they are being rented,” Hess said. “We need interior inspections and licensing.” Leontis agreed. “Parents who send their kids to Bowling Green can have no assurance when they rent a house that it’s safe.” Inspections are required of restaurants – the same should be standard for rental housing, he said. “This should not be allowed. Your kid moves into a fire trap and you never know.” SAME HOUSE – DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES Of course, few issues are truly black and white. Even the rental property mentioned above is shaded with an awful lot of gray. The landlord reportedly rented the house to students who had difficulty getting others to rent to them. Bowling Green has several safety measures in place for renters who encounter problems with their residences. When complaints are received, city officials ask the Bowling Green Fire Division, Wood County Health District, or Wood County Building Inspection…