Bowling Green Fire Division

Moorman takes roundabout walkabout to get to BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A few words out of Bowling Green Fire Chief Bill Moorman, and even his newest “mates” realize he was not born and bred in Northwest Ohio. But few probably know the long winding route that Moorman took from his homeland in Australia to the flatlands of Ohio. Moorman stretched the traditional Australian “walkabout” across several continents and years before ending up in Bowling Green. “It’s almost like a rite of passage for an Australian. You put a backpack on and travel,” he said. For most, though, the trek lasts six months or so. “For me, it’s been 30 years,” the fire chief said. At age 25, Moorman and his brother decided they needed to see the world beyond the borders of their homeland. “Let’s put a backpack on and travel the world,” Moorman said. “So we did that for a couple years.” The brothers wandered their way through Malaysia, Israel, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, England, Greece and several other European nations. They stayed at youth hostels or camped along the side of roads. They worked odd jobs along the way, like toiling at a banana plantation in Israel. “You can get work – though it might not be glamorous,” he said. As they drifted, Moorman said they would encounter other travelers who would have suggestions for the next leg of their journey. In Egypt, the pair rented bicycles and peddled on pathways out to the Valley of the Kings. “Going through the Egypt desert on bicycles was interesting,” he said. They sailed up the Nile, climbed Mount Sinai and camped there for a night. The brothers explored the Greek Islands, and spent a month touring Turkey, traveling as far as the Russian border. At some point, Moorman and his brother split ways, with his brother heading to England and Moorman staying to work on a tour yacht and as a scuba guide. Eventually, Moorman found himself in Germany during Oktoberfest. “You have no idea what Oktoberfest is until you go to one in Germany,” he said. It was there that he met an American girl, which led to the next leg of his travels to the U.S. Moorman had grown up at the base of the second highest mountain in Australia, so when he found out that the American girl lived in Walnut Hills in Walbridge, he envisioned rolling hills covered with walnut trees. His expectation was a little off. “The biggest hill was a landfill,” he said, smiling. Moorman, who previously fought “bush fires” in Australia and helped rescue skiers and mountain climbers in his homeland, now fights house fires and rescues people in car accidents. As the new chief of the Bowling Green Fire Division, he is focusing on the constant training of the firefighters. “We train, we train and we…


BG police & fire train on new strategy for school shootings

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Last week while Bowling Green schools were closed for spring break, teams of police officers clad in protective vests and carrying AR-15 air soft training rifles trained in their hallways. By this week, all of the city’s police officers will have gone through rescue task force training. The point of the practice is to prepare police and EMS to work together to get medical help to victims of mass shootings as quickly as possible. “Time is so critical,” Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick said. On Friday afternoon, another team of police officers wrapped up their active shooter drill at Crim Elementary School. While they train annually for active shooters, this was the first time that police and firefighters/paramedics trained together. Police trained to go into the “hot zone,” to confront the shooters, and create an area in the nearby “warm zone” for EMS to take care of those injured. “Our entire role in all of this is to train the police officers to make a safe area,” so medical treatment doesn’t have to wait until the entire scene is cleared of risks, Bowling Green Fire Chief Bill Moorman said. “Our paramedics are escorted in to treat in the building, and not wait for patients to be brought out to us,” Moorman said. “It’s getting our people into the building faster than normal.” The rescue task force responses to mass shootings do not require EMS personnel to carry firearms. “We are the firefighters’ protection for tactical emergency medical services,” explained Bowling Green Police Deputy Chief Justin White as he stood outside Crim Elementary. The rescue task force training included every police officer and firefighter. “All our officers are getting trained this week,” Hetrick said. “Every single one will go through it,” Moorman said. Each of the training sessions was held in Crim Elementary, though Hetrick said his officers are familiar with every school building in the city. The rescue task force training had been months in the making – long before the shooting in Parkland, Florida. But the timing proved perfect with concerns heightened after 17 students and teachers were killed by the Parkland shooter. “Anxiety is through the roof,” Hetrick said in the days following the Florida school shooting. Immediately after the Parkland school shooting, Bowling Green Police Division increased its foot patrols near local schools and drive-throughs of school parking lots. “We have stepped that up,” Hetrick said during the recent school safety forum held by the school district at the county library. Though the police division does not have enough officers to station them at the schools, Hetrick said the response time averages one to two minutes. The officers are well-equipped, train for active shooter responses, and are familiar with all the school buildings, Hetrick said. Prior to the…


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…


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’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…


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….


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.


Chief fans flames on fire prevention efforts

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Several months after a fire at a downtown icon, the Corner Grill is still closed. A new focus of the Bowling Green Fire Division will be aimed at preventing fires like this – instead of just being ready to extinguish them once they begin. Bowling Green Fire Chief Tom Sanderson has adopted a community risk reduction program that puts the emphasis on fire prevention – not just fire suppression. For years, the fire division has instructed school children how to be safe from fire. They have been drilled on the “stop, drop and roll” technique and other fire safety steps. But the basic education stopped there. Sanderson would like to expand that fire prevention programming to local businesses. Sanderson explained the program Saturday during a strategic planning meeting for Bowling Green City Council. The fire prevention efforts will focus on three Es: The fire division will look at businesses’ water supplies, alarms, fire suppression and access. Business owners will be talked with about fire prevention and firefighter safety. Sanderson said business owners should not fear fire inspections, which will focus on education first. However, “if education doesn’t do the trick,” then enforcement will be the next step. Sanderson said he hopes to post a top 10 list on the city’s website of fire hazards, such as use of multiple extension cords or having items piled to the ceiling. The chief also want to work with off-campus student housing groups to make them aware of fire risks. Unlike other cities, such as Perrysburg, Bowling Green has no full-time fire inspectors. Sanderson said inspectors could make visits to local businesses to look for dangerous conditions. “I think it’s going to reduce the risks to the businesses,” he said. Sanderson stressed that the inspections would be “business friendly,” with the emphasis on protecting the buildings, not issuing orders. Such a program may have helped prevent last year’s fire at the Corner Grill, the chief said. The “vast majority” of the city’s firefighters are certified as state fire inspectors. To staff an inspection program, the chief said an additional one or two people would need to be hired. Sanderson said the fire division would still be prepared to extinguish fires that do occur. “You can have the most robust fire prevention program, but you still need to be ready to put one out,” he said.


Fire at Kroger closes store until Friday morning

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The Kroger store in Bowling Green will be closed overnight after a fire started in the expanded area of the store. The small fire on the roof of the grocery store on North Main Street in Bowling Green this evening led to the store being evacuated. Bowling Green Fire Chief Tom Sanderson said it appeared the fire may have been started by welding in the area. The portion of the store affected is on the northeast corner of the building, in an area that it still incomplete and not open to the public. There was no danger to those in the store, the chief said. But to be safe, the store was evacuated. The fire call came in at 5:50 p.m. Two fire engines, the ladder truck and 11 firefighters responded to the scene. The fire was being fought by firefighters inside spraying water and firefighters outside pulling off the roofing material. A person answering the phone in Kroger around 8 p.m. said the store would be closed overnight until 6 a.m. on Friday. No additional information was available.


BG Fire Division to put focus on fire prevention

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Fire Division has ignited some new goals for the new year – shifting its focus to fire prevention, examining response time, and collecting data for a future third fire station in the city. These concepts and more are discussed in the fire division’s five-year strategic plan presented recently to city council. The division averages 3,500 calls a year, with 80 percent being EMS runs and the other 20 percent being fire calls for everything from structures, to cars to dumpsters. One of Fire Chief Tom Sanderson’s main goals for the division is to add an emphasis on fire prevention. “Historically, fire departments focus all their training and finances on fire suppression,” the chief said. But Sanderson would like to shift some focus to prevention as well. “We are charged with educating the community on how to reduce the risk of fires.” So the fire division will be working to develop a community risk reduction program that will help protect homes, businesses – and his firefighters. “My biggest concern as a fire chief – what keeps me up at night – is firefighter safety,” Sanderson said. “Firefighters don’t die if a fire never occurs.” The fire division is not able to do annual inspections of all businesses in the city, so the chief wants to offer a risk reduction program. Unlike inspections, which some in the business community might interpret as costly or threatening, the prevention program will likely be viewed as a helpful service. “We’re not able to do comprehensive fire safety inspections annually,” Sanderson said. “We’re trying to shift our focus. The goal is to help businesses stay in business.” The chief pointed out the fire last year that crippled an iconic business, the Corner Grill. Such incidents may be able to be prevented by a community risk reduction program, he said. False fire alarms The fire division’s strategic plan also addresses false alarm calls at Bowling Green State University, which were formerly a problem since they wasted the division’s time and required equipment to be used needlessly. However, Sanderson said that a recent investment by BGSU in new fire alarms has resulted in a 75 percent drop in false alarms on campus. It used to be that burned popcorn or a hot hair-straightener combined with certain hair-care products set off alarms alerting the fire division. “It was enough to trigger the smoke alarms, and that was enough to empty a residence hall,” he said. But that no longer happens. “BGSU put some stop gaps in place.” Dispatching and response times Changes are underway that should shave time off dispatch and response times. Instead of emergency callers having to repeat their information to the fire division, the information is relayed directly to the fire staff. “That was an inefficient…