Northville – Seven new firefighters were added to the Northville Fire Department this week, allowing the team to increase response time to incidents and fully staff another fire department.
Mark J. Abbo, the township supervisor, said in a news release that by hiring the additional staff, the township is “one step closer to a safer community, while continuing to focus on improving services to our residents. We welcome all our new first responders. “
Each new firefighter is also a trained paramedic and was sworn in Monday by Township Clerk Roger Lundberg.
Currently, the fire department has 37 firefighters and will use the additional staff to open a fire station at Legacy Park in Seven Mile. The property is planned to be a critical service complex that will house a new office for the public safety and public works departments and some storage space.
Fire Chief Brent Siegel said the expansion will “reduce our reliance on mutual aid.”
When the department does not have to rely on the help of the Western Wayne County Fire Department Mutual Aid Association and other neighbors, they are able to respond to incidents faster and provide better service to members of the Northville community.
“We have a good relationship with our neighbors and we help each other, but when someone from another community responds, it affects the response time. The longer someone has to travel, the longer your response time,” Siegel said.
“When we don’t have enough trucks, we call our neighbors, and right now we’re calling neighbors more than helping them,” he said. In 2021, the Township Fire Department responded to more than 3,100 incidents.
“Over the last 10 years we’ve seen about a 43% increase in call volume and we haven’t increased staff. So these additional staff will help us handle that additional call volume that we’ve seen over the last 10 years. ,” Siegel said.
The fire chief said none of the departments have enough staff to handle every call, so they use mutual aid. He attributes the shortage of personnel to the reduction of wages of essential workers.
“The pay and benefits for first responders have dropped dramatically, and that’s always been a big draw for people,” Siegel said. “It’s less incentive for people to go into public service.”
Another reason is the training and education required to become a firefighter. People are better off going to school for four years and getting a higher-paying job than going to fire school for three years and starting “in a dangerous field with less pensions and less pay,” he said.
“There really aren’t a lot of candidates going into the fire service. We haven’t had any new candidates…no one has come out of the fire academy,” Siegel said.
There, new team members came from other community fire departments such as Ferndale, Garden City, Westland, Canton Township and Wayne. To get the new team, the fire department held an open house, received more than 30 applications and hired seven people.
The chief said he is splitting the current workforce to fully staff the upcoming fire station. According to a news release, the major services complex will be built with no new taxes, expected to be built in 2023 and “hopefully be completed in a year and a half to 18 months,” Siegel said.