fire division

Firefighting is far more than putting out blazes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s not enough anymore for firefighters to just battle blazes. For years, they donned protective gear to extinguish burning structures. They have handled hazardous material spills on highways and railways. And they trained to respond to meth labs. But now, firefighters from big cities to small town volunteer departments have to prepare to handle a deadly threat that is so small they may not even be able to see it. On Saturday, volunteer firefighters from throughout Northwest Ohio learned how they can keep themselves safe as they respond the heroin crisis in the state. They were reminded of Ohio’s dubious distinction of having the second most opiate overdose deaths, with more than 5,200 last year. Drugs like heroin, cocaine and counterfeit prescription pills are now commonly laced with fentanyl to increase potency. Fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled if it becomes airborne. A speck the size of a few grains of salt can potentially kill a 250-pound man. Many volunteer firefighters – who are willing to respond to fires and accidents in the middle of the night – didn’t sign up for this. But it’s now part of the job, explained Wood County Emergency Management Agency Director Brad Gilbert, who serves as co-chair of the fire school. During one fire school class on Saturday, a firefighter from rural Williams County said he was on three runs involving heroin over a recent weekend. Another firefighter from Archbold talked about responding to a double overdose involving a man and his stepdad. Both men were revived. The stepdad went into treatment, but the son refused treatment and went to prison. “Everybody’s community is affected by this,” said an instructor from the Multi-Area Narcotics Task Force from Northwest Ohio. “A lot of time it’s the same house you go to. The people are overdosing time, after time, after time.” The Good Samaritan Overdose Immunity Law adopted in Ohio in 2016 allows people to report an overdose without fear of facing drug charges. They are given chances to enter treatment programs instead of jail. But on the third call, the immunity – and patience of first responders in some cases – is exhausted. The more than 400 firefighters attending the weekend fire school held at Bowling Green State University also got refreshers on more traditional topics. They had training sessions on agricultural accidents, medical treatment of pediatrics and geriatrics, search and rescue using a self contained breathing apparatus, water tanker shuttles, fire and explosion investigations, methamphetamine labs, flammable liquid spills, fire search and rescue, silo explosions, and severe weather. Gilbert said he expected another type of training to be added to the fire school’s classes next year – tactical EMS training. This is “unfortunately” becoming necessary as fire and EMS departments respond to mass shooting incidents such as the most recent one in Parkland, Florida, Gilbert said. “To be quite honest, they are all starting to look at that and how they can hook up with law enforcement,” to work together on incident scenes. Tactical EMS training is already being implemented with some departments, like Bowling Green Fire Division. “They work closely with law enforcement on how they enter a building and get people out quickly,” Gilbert said.

BG gathers to discuss how to keep schools safe

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Teachers pleaded to be armed with adequate resources – not guns. Parents asked about mental health care for children. And others debated the value of arming a school for violence, or preventing it before it occurs. Though the last school shooting was far away in Parkland, Florida, the ripple effect is being felt at schools across the nation. Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci has held eight expulsion hearings in the past week for students who have made threats of violence at school. Some threats were posted on social media, some blurted out in the school hallways, one uttered in anger while playing an Xbox game. “We have to take these seriously,” Scruci said. “I’ve got 3,100 kids I’m responsible for, and close to 400 staff I’m responsible for.” The school safety public forum Thursday evening was held as an open conversation with the community in the atrium of the Wood County District Public Library. The room was packed. The topic was touchy. But the forum was peaceful. “This type of event could happen anywhere,” Scruci said, talking about how schools and churches used to be safe places in the community. To make sure Bowling Green schools are as safe as possible, Scruci said he has been working closely with Police Chief Tony Hetrick and Fire Chief Bill Moorman, both who attended the forum. The district has taken steps such as limiting the times the schools are unlocked, reducing the number of open entrances at the beginning and end of the school day, changing the procedures for evacuating for a non-scheduled fire alarm, reviewing of lockdown plans with staff, talking with evening users of the schools buildings about not blocking open doors, promoting the anonymous tip line, and adopting a zero tolerance policy to threats. Scruci said he has walked the school buildings with emergency responders and State Senator Randy Gardner. “It’s not possible to make schools 100 percent safe,” Scruci said. “They were built at times we didn’t have to worry about these events.” “We all share the same concerns – how to make our schools a safe place,” he said. Hetrick said he has been having daily conversations with Scruci recently about school safety issues. The police have increased their presence at the schools with foot patrols and drive-throughs of the parking lots. “We have stepped that up,” he said. Though the police division does not have enough officers to station one at each school, Hetrick said DARE Officer Robin Short is committed to the schools. “She’s really our eyes and ears for problems,” he said. To help ease the minds of parents, the police chief said city officers have an average response time of one or two minutes. They are well equipped, train for active shooter responses, and are familiar with all the school buildings. Unlike police responses back at the time of the Columbine school shooting, Bowling Green police officers are trained for “solo engagement,” which means the first officer on the scene goes in immediately by himself. “This is on our minds all the time,” Hetrick said. “This is what we train for. This is what we’re equipped for.” The police are also trained in the rescue task force concept, which means fire department personnel enter the building…

House fire blocks North Main near downtown BG (updated)

North Main Street in Bowling Green was blocked at the 200-400 blocks for about an hour Tuesday afternoon as firefighters worked to put out a fire in an apartment on the second floor of 326 N. Main St. Fire Chief Bill Moorman said he wasn’t sure how long the road was blocked. Firefighters were on the scene until 6:13 and he expects traffic resumed sometime before that. The fire started in the kitchen of the apartment, which had one occupant. The occupant had left about 15 minutes before the fire report was called in. Two trucks and an aerial ladder from Bowling Green Fire Division responded, as well as a truck from Middleton Township and an ambulance. Bowling Green police arrived first on the scene, Moorman said. He praised their efforts to clear people from the building. There are six units in the front and several more in the rear of the building. The apartment where the blaze took place was heavily damaged. The kitchen has extensive fire damage and adjoining rooms had heavy smoke, soot, and heat damage, including melted blinds. The apartment “is not livable,” he said, and the Fire Division was working with the resident to find other living arrangements. Other apartments in the building had moderate smoke damage. Moorman said it was up to residents to determine whether they would stay there. An investigator was on the scene Tuesday night to try to determine the exact cause of the blaze. That’s routine, the fire chief said. The information gathered helps in future fire prevention efforts.

Firefighter and wife save man from jumping off overpass

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   An off-duty Bowling Green firefighter and his wife stopped a man from jumping off the East Wooster overpass at Interstate 75 late Saturday night. Steve and Dawn Tyda were on their way home from Columbus on Saturday, when they pulled off I-75 around 11 p.m. They saw a man standing on the overpass, facing the highway. Bowling Green Fire Chief Bill Moorman said Steve Tyda turned around and went back to the overpass and pulled up next to the man. Dawn Tyda asked the man if he was OK. “He said, ‘I’ll be OK in about four seconds when I jump,’” Moorman said. Dawn Tyda offered to talk or pray with the man, who turned back to the highway and leaned over the side. Meanwhile Steve Tyda came up behind the man and tackled him to keep him from going over onto I-75 below. Tyda held him down until police arrived. The man, a 49 year old Bowling Green resident, was taken to Wood County Hospital where he was checked out by Behavioral Connections. He was transported to Flower Hospital in Sylvania for evaluation. The man told police he had recently been suicidal. In the previous few days, he said he had attempted to hang himself, tried to sleep with a bag on his head, drank rust remover and stabbed himself in the stomach with a small paring knife. “If he went through with it and jumped, it would affect so many people,” Police Chief Tony Hetrick said. Last year a man did jump off the I-75 overpass, resulting in several vehicles hitting him on the roadway. “It was an absolutely horrific sight,” said Moorman, who helped distraught drivers who couldn’t avoid hitting the man who jumped. Moorman praised Tyda for helping the suicidal man on Saturday night. “It was somewhat heroic, with complete disregard for his own safety,” Moorman said.

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 service on City Council. Council was reminded that the next meeting will be Feb. 20, due to the Presidents’ Day holiday on Feb. 19.

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. That includes regulations for food trucks. “We get many, many calls about this,” Tretter said. The current rules require 150 feet of right-of-way between food trucks and the roadway. “This ordinance has not been updated in a very long time.” Finance Director Brian Bushong will be working on bond rating and issuance for the I-75 interchange roundabouts and the City Park building. Bushong said the city will likely have to borrow money again in 2019, since efforts will be made to stay under $10 million in 2018. The city’s finance office is also working to replace its paper timecards for hourly employees. The new “Executime” process will eliminate paper and streamline the process, Bushong said. Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley talked about the new…

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 targeting kids,” he said. But Sanderson saw the value of taking that information to businesses and residents. Second, Sanderson wanted to reduce the number of false alarm fire runs to Bowling Green State University. “If someone burned popcorn in the microwave in their room, it would empty the whole dorm,” he said. And that would require the fire division to respond with its aerial ladder truck and a full shift of firefighters. The firefighters would climb up flights of stairs carrying their gear just to find burned food. Working together, BGSU agreed to upgrade its fire protection technology in residence halls, so that only the room with the burned food is alerted. The hall is not emptied, and police respond to see if the fire…

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 to have a friend or neighbor check your home periodically while you are away to ensure the heating system is working and that there are no water leaks. If your pipes freeze despite these precautions, do not try to thaw them with a propane torch. If you encounter a broken pipe, be aware of standing water and electrical wires—an electrocution hazard may be present. If you experience problems and are not sure what to do, contact a licensed plumber. The City of Bowling Green can be reached at 419-354-6277 during regular business hours and 419-352-1131 after hours.  Please note that the city cannot work on private service lines, perform plumbing services, or recommend a plumber. However, the city can confirm that a customer’s property is…

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 of America for 10 years, has volunteered as a mentor for regional CPR competitions, and is a Leadership BG graduate. He and his wife, Cari, have five children.

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 to check out the property. In the case of the house rented by Leontis’ students, Fire Chief Tom Sanderson also toured the residence. The fire division recently started a community risk reduction program, in which firefighters inspect multi-family residential sites. “We do not inspect individual residences,” unless there is a specific request, Sanderson said. Though this particular house had several deficiencies, as someone who frequently tours the inside of rental properties, the chief had a different perspective. “I don’t believe the home was unsafe,” he said. Though it may appear worrisome, the original wiring in the house is not inherently dangerous. “We find that all over the place,” Sanderson said of the old wiring. The health district’s role is similar, in that its inspectors only…

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 Wood County residents don’t have reliable access to affordable, nutritious food. Amy Holland was honored for starting the project after she noticed that several of her co-workers at Walmart did not always have a meal a break time. So she started making brown bag lunches and passing them around. Soon others joined in the effort. Today, 300 people a month receive food from the organization which now has an office at 115 W. Merry Ave., Suite B. Also honored at the meeting was the Bicycle Spokesperson of the Year, by the city bicycle safety commission. Meg Ramlow received the award on behalf of her late husband, Eric, who was killed in a bike-auto accident. The city recently participated in the “Ride of Silence” in Eric Ramlow’s memory. In other business, council member Bruce Jeffers reported on continuing efforts of the Welcoming BG task force. The city has passed a resolution supporting immigrants in the community,…

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 epidemic, meth labs, natural gas safety, silo explosions and severe weather. “It’s hard to attract people with all the training requirements,” said Ryan Lee, of Central Joint Fire District. But then, there is a reason for the training. “It’s a dangerous job,” he said. Some departments have weekly training for the firefighters, like Central Joint, which drills every Tuesday evening. While that is useful, it leaves little time for the socialization that previously attracted firefighters, and it’s more time away from family which is already an issue for some volunteers. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, being on a volunteer fire department was like being a member of a fraternity, Lee said. “It was more of a social group,” he said. “Now it’s a second job” – but without the pay. Central Joint averages 260 fire and EMS runs a year. So that means multiple times a week, “you’re leaving your dinner table” or other…

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.