(PRESS RELEASE) The City of Wauseon recently offered a fire contract to provide fire coverage to York Township to cover an approximately 14 square mile area that covers the west side of Co. Rd. 11 to the east side of Co. Rd. 13, ranging from Fulton County Road H to Fulton County Road A (the Fulton/Henry County Line).
Wauseon had covered this area until York Township did not accept a new coverage contract in 2019. Therefore, Wauseon’s coverage of this area ended on December 31, 2019.
York Township terminated this contract for two main reasons. First, the Wauseon fire department raised their contract cost from approximately $3,500.00 per year to over $40,000 annually.
Second, York Township oversees the Delta Community Fire Department, and the Trustees determined this department was fully capable of handling this area of York Township.
There was no discussion between the Wauseon and Delta fire departments regarding this issue for over three years until a group of concerned citizens came to a York Township Trustee meeting on April 26, 2023.
When the trustees gave this group their blessing to speak at the meeting, the citizens expressed their concern about the current fire coverage situation.
There was discussion back and forth between the two parties. Many things were discussed, and the York Trustees agreed to meet with the City of Wauseon and it’s fire officials at a later date to discuss this issue.
Prior to scheduling this meeting, Wauseon sent a letter containing a fire coverage contract offer to York Township on May 16, 2023.
Wauseon offered to cover this area for $44,463.35 per year. This area averages eight accident/fire calls per year.
This contract would pay the City of Wauseon $5,558.17 per call based on an average year. We feel this is an excessive amount to pay to a neighboring fire department when we are completely capable of servicing this area.
Tom McWatters, Wauseon’s attorney, offered to have himself, Mayor Kathy Huner and Chief Phil Kessler to attend the May 24th York Township meeting to discuss the contract they proposed.
We, in turn, emailed all the parties relevant to this issue, stating that anyone was welcome to come to our meeting, but that we wouldn’t be discussing this contract in depth.
The trustees and I felt that the contract offered was not a good starting point for us. We felt and still feel we provide great coverage to this area. We also feel that any contract offer should come from us, since the area is in our township.
Chief Kessler is the spokesman for the Wauseon Fire Department, yet he has never directly addressed the York Township Trustees about this issue.
Chief Kessler did come to our April 26, meeting, but sat in the back of the room until he was asked a question by one of his own group.
Chief Kessler never made the effort to introduce himself to any of the trustees at this meeting. I have yet to meet Chief Kessler, yet he is the leader of the organization asking for over $40,000 annually from us.
The Wauseon Fire Department feels the need to bill us for any mutual aid calls they help with in the Delta Fire District.
According to the Fulton County Prosecutor’s office, No fire department is allowed to bill another fire department for fire services.
York Township was sent another Letter on May 24, 2023 from Tom McWatters and the City of Wauseon stating that if the entities could not come to an agreement by August 1, 2023, then the Wauseon Fire Department would terminate their fire coverage in this area.
The York Trustees were emailed a press release on June 13, offering a town hall meeting on June 21, to discuss the City of Wauseon’s Fire Department’s decision to terminate coverage to the citizens of this area, effective August 1, 2023.
Citizens in this area should be very nervous about backing a fire department who would choose not to help, in the case of an emergency.
Despite the strained relationship, the Delta Community Fire Department would not hesitate to help anyone in need of service in this area.
We don’t apply conditions to our services. We are definitely “The Fire Department of Hope” in this area.
Jeffrey A. Mazurowski
York Township Trustee