fire division

First responders honored for giving opiate addicts second, third and more chances

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Those being honored Monday in the war against opiate abuse weren’t front and center. As usual, they were gathered far from the podium. “The first responders are all in the back of the room,” Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Dobson said. “Frankly that’s where they would prefer to be. They would much rather be out doing their jobs.” Those are the jobs they were being honored for on Monday – saving people from opiate overdoses. “They step into circumstances that we can’t imagine,” Dobson said. “They stand between us and danger in a very real sense on a daily basis.” EMS and law enforcement are being recognized across Ohio this week for saving people who overdose on opiates. In the Wood County Courthouse Atrium, the first responders were thanked by the second and third responders in the opiate crisis. To show appreciation in Wood County, that meant lunches will be delivered to fire and police stations throughout the week by Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “This is basically to say ‘thank you.’ We know it’s difficult work,” said Milan Karna, with the Wood County Prevention Coalition. A video was played, showing people who had been saved by first responders using narcan to revive them after overdoses. The faces thanked the first responders for not giving up on them – even if they had to respond to the same person for multiple overdoses. Tom Clemons, WCADAMHS director, used Dobson’s terminology of this war on opiates creating “refugees” in need of care. “It takes all of us working together on this,” Clemons said. On the front lines of this war are EMS, law enforcement, children’s services, and hospitals. “It is a widely recognized fact that a lot of first responders are putting themselves at risk,” with fentanyl being very dangerous to those treating overdose victims. But the use…

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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…


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…


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…


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…


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,…


Golf carts must pass inspections to be on city streets

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green residents who like to drive golf carts on city streets may soon be able to do so legally. The first step in the process was accomplished Monday evening when City Council passed an ordinance regulating under-speed vehicles. The next step must be taken by the golf cart drivers, whose vehicles must pass an inspection process. As of Jan. 1, a state law deemed it illegal to operate under-speed or utility vehicles on public streets unless they are registered, Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter told City Council on Monday evening. The city ordinance will allow the golf carts on city streets with speed limits of 25 mph, except for Main and Wooster streets. The inspection program has been set up with the local police division. The vehicles must have proper brakes, lights, turn signals, tires, windshield wipers, steering, horns and warning devices, mirrors, exhaust systems, windshields and seat belts. Once an inspection is passed, the golf cart or other slow-moving vehicle can be registered and titled just like other vehicles. Stickers indicating registration will have to be placed on the carts. Police Chief Tony Hetrick said after the council meeting that two inspection events will be scheduled for golf carts. After that, the police will do inspections by appointment only. Also on Monday evening, council passed an ordinance authorizing the trade of property with First Presbyterian Church, and the donation of land to the Wood County Committee on Aging to be used for a new senior center. Former city administrator Colleen Smith praised council for its decision to donate the property for the senior center. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” she said. Smith mentioned the work of the committee on aging, including the serving of more than 850 meals a day and services that are “absolutely marvelous.” In other business, two city firefighters were promoted. Jim Ritterbach, who has been with the department for…