fire division

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,”…


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…


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 22 years, was promoted to lieutenant. Lucas Ward, who has been with the department for 17 years, was sworn in as a captain. A couple awards were also presented to local citizens Monday evening. The Bowling Green Human Relations Commission recognized the Brown Bag Food Project for its efforts to end food insecurity in the community. Marcy St. John, a member of the commission, noted that nearly 15 percent of…


Fire division ventilating downtown apartment after food burns on stove

Fire trucks were on South Main Street in downtown Bowling Green today at lunchtime, responding to food that burned on the stove in an apartment above the mini-mall on the west side of the first block of South Main Street. As of 1:30 p.m., the fire crews were ventilating a small amount of smoke from the scene, according to Fire Chief Tom Sanderson.


Demands of volunteer firefighting lead some to burnout

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As a young boy, Tim Schroeder remembers kids chasing behind fire trucks, then watching in awe as volunteer firefighters battled blazes. Children dreamed of becoming firefighters, and as soon as reaching adulthood, many joined the ranks. That was then. Now, most kids don’t race behind fire trucks, they have different dreams, and most don’t sign up on volunteer fire departments. Most prefer jobs that pay, that have reasonable hours and that don’t demand quick departures during dinner or in the middle of a deep sleep. That has some volunteer fire departments struggling to survive. Add to that the training requirements, the equipment costs, the calls at all time of day and night, and the fact that many employers no longer let volunteer firefighters leave work for fire calls. Despite all those odds, Wood County still has 23 fire departments, the vast majority volunteer. A few neighboring departments have merged to become fire districts, but only one – Jerry City – has shut down in the last few decades. Though their memberships are shrinking, and in some cases graying, the fire departments are a source of community pride and camaraderie. “There’s still the excitement,” Schroeder, a member of Weston EMS, said Saturday during the Northwestern Ohio Volunteer Firemen’s Association training held at Bowling Green State University. “It’s just a struggle to get personnel.” The volunteer job demands time and dedication. One of the hurdles to getting and retaining firefighters is the training. Over the weekend, about 700 area volunteer firefighters were at BGSU trying to rack up some free training hours. The basic initial firefighter training is 36 hours. That used to be good enough to keep someone on the department for a lifetime. But now an additional 18 hours of training is required each year. “You used to get a certification and that was it,” said Tom Bentley, from Wayne Volunteer Fire Department. “The older guys don’t want to maintain that,” said Dave Miller, from Woodville Township Fire Department and chairman of the fire school. In addition to firefighting skills, the volunteers learn how to handle hazardous materials, search and rescue skills, emergency medical skills, and how to drive fire trucks. Over the weekend, there were classes on handling agricultural accidents, tanker shuttles to put out fires where there are no fire hydrants, fire investigations, the heroin…


Fire damages home on East Reed Street this morning

A passerby reported a house fire at 129 E. Reed St. at 6:41 a.m. today, Sunday. Bowling Green Fire Division responded with two engines and the ladder truck. Upon arrival, heavy fire was showing on the second floor of the large, former single-family home that had been converted into a triplex, according to Bowling Green Fire Chief Tom Sanderson. A resident of the first floor apartment was evacuated by Bowling Green Police Division. According to Sanderson, the initial fire attack with a deck gun was followed immediately by an interior attack and search of the second floor apartment. No one was in the second floor apartment at the time. The fire was quickly under control, the chief said. Mutual aid was called to the scene, including Central Joint Fire District with an engine and four firefighters, and Mid-County 120 Ambulance with two paramedics. There were no injuries to residents or firefighters. The fire is under investigation, Sanderson said.