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Plymouth Considers Turning Over Fire Services to Northville

The proposal calls for Northville to assume fire department and EMS responsibilities for the city of Plymouth.

Northville’s is considering a 12-year agreement to provide fire and EMS services for the city of Plymouth.

“The City of Plymouth asked us back in November to investigate providing them with paid on-call service,” said City Manager Patrick Sullivan. “In the long term, we think it’s going to be a great thing for our fire department.”

The City Council will discuss the proposal at its . If approved, the agreement will be forwarded to Plymouth's City Commission.

"We're still hammering out all the details," Plymouth City Manager Paul Sincock said. "After Northville approves the agreement, it comes to us (Plymouth City Commission). This is a partnership we thought would be a good way to regionalize Northville's paid on-call resources and cooperate with them as a community."

Plymouth has shared fire services with Plymouth Township for 14 years, but Plymouth officials decided to withdraw this year in order to find a model that would save the city money. The Plymouth-Plymouth Township fire services merger will end Dec. 31.

"We met with Northville about fire services as long as five years ago," Sincock said.

Northville would provide fire services from its current location on Main Street as well as from the Plymouth station behind its City Hall.

Services provided

The city of Northville proposes providing the following to Plymouth:

  • Fire suppression, fire safety inspections and fire prevention education
  • 30 to 55 part-time paid on-call firefighters
  • EMS response at the basic life-support level
  • A proposed budget on March 1 of each year for the next fiscal year
  • Open financial records between the cities of Northville and Plymouth
  • Possible staffing of the Plymouth station at Plymouth's expense
  • The joint department would be party to the Western Wayne County Department Mutual Aid Association

Finances of fire agreement

The proposal makes no mention of specific dollar amounts.

“Under the agreement, Plymouth would reimburse Northville for any and all administrative expenses involved in the startup of the Plymouth station,” according to Sullivan’s report.

These costs would include staff time, recruiting and training up to 25 new paid on-call firefighters in 2011 as well as equipment costs. Plymouth also would pay to staff its station, but those staffers would be considered Northville employees. Any costs for new equipment and "any and all building improvements necessary to create the Plymouth station" would solely fall on Plymouth, according to the agreement.

Both stations would report to Northville Fire Chief James Allen.

“Plymouth would pay its share of our total fire and rescue budget, based on their percentage of run activity,” according to Sullivan's report.

The Interlocal Fire Service Agreement also calls for the creation of an advisory board comprising one City Council member and the city manager of each community. Meeting at least quarterly, the group would review the annual budget and expenditures of more than $100,000.

Sincock said that though the financial details aren't totally worked out, he expects that the partnership would save Plymouth between $400,000 and $500,000 per year.

Plymouth Mayor Dan Dwyer supports the merger of services. "It's been a very positive experience," he said of negotiations. "We'll see where it goes, but I'm optimistic that everything will work out. We have an agreement on cost, and I'm anxious to get going on this."

Dispatch services

Northville contracts with Northville Township for its dispatch services. Northville Township Manager Chip Snider said a change could mean that Plymouth contracts with the township or that a new contract might need to be drafted with the city.

"Our dispatch can handle the extra work," Snider said.

But whether any change to dispatch occurs is uncertain right now. He said the township's primary focus will be on providing services to its residents and that the potential addition of Plymouth's calls to Northville Township's dispatch would not be too significant.

Under the city of Northville's proposed agreement, there is no mention of dispatch service. That would be a detail to be ironed out later, Sullivan said.

Northville's City Council will consider the proposal at its meeting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Plymouth's City Commission is scheduled to meet Monday, and its agenda includes an item calling for a special meeting Thursday between Plymouth and Northville to discuss the agreement.

Bill Brown February 27, 2011 at 04:12 AM
J.s., This is not about a hobby. This is about real life and death. Saving a structure or not (Little Italy). You say that they have to be EMT's, how many of your members have minimal EMS training of 35 hours called Emergency First Responders also known as "Code 7" when they are on the Basic Life Support rescue with out an EMT. Maybe you should start listening a little harder to your scanner. Bottom line is Northville City tax payers pay for 32 fire fighters in a system that works for a 2.2 square mile system that responds to 700 call a year, not in a system that has two stations that are seperated by two other communities. Right now they don't have enough members to cover both stations. I'm sure once all of these young fire fighters that go to work for the city of Northville realize that they will never get hired for a full time department after this, They to will realize then that this is wrong! Ask yourself this, after doing your part to work so hard at putting 10 full time fire fighters out of a job in Plymouth why would somebody want to hire you? Take a long look in the mirror!
Non IAFF FF February 27, 2011 at 12:20 PM
Unfortunately the politicians have already made up their minds on what they think is the right option. A part time, paid on call fire department is not the answer in any community in Western Wayne County with call volumes only rising. Apparently no one can get through to politicians and city managers anymore. They must think that they are invincible. As a person that started in a paid on call system at a community that ran about the same amount of calls at the time of my inception as what the City of Plymouth and the City of Northville runs currently, roughly 1600 calls for service per year. I understand the willingness to want to make the system work however, at what point do the part time people start to understand that fire protection and EMS is not a hobby, it’s a career. Also knowing that at an on call part time department does not offer the same the same services as the current operation in the Plymouth Community that Mutual Aid can not be relied on and most like will not be given to the part time Basic Life Support department. Is this what is the best option for the citizens, or is this the fact of the politicians want to save money, or it could even be a case of the “non-profit” ambulance company convincing certain people in the city in not so correct ways.
Non IAFF FF February 27, 2011 at 12:20 PM
Every “premier” community offers a great Police Department and Fire Department, Canton, Livonia, Northville Township, just to name a few. Plymouth can not fall into a system that has the potential to work it needs to go with one the currently works! If you want to make the situation better maybe the overall staffing should be increased. The options in protection of the citizen weather it be Police or Fire should go before the public opinion and be voted on. Just remember that the recommend ration of firefighters to residence should be 1 to 1000. With going on the latest SEMCOG numbers that means the Plymouth Community Fire Department should be staffed at 39 firefighters between 3 shifts giving the community a total daily shift amount of 13 firefighter/paramedics. This staffing is what is considered optimal. Yes it does cost money, this is a given. However can you really put a dollar amount on overall public safety! I can not speak for everyone else in the world I can just state that I know what is best for citizens in the Western Wayne County Community, especially right now FOR the citizens that are covered by the Plymouth Community Fire Department.
ecnalubma February 27, 2011 at 12:55 PM
Js, with all earned respect: Your thinking is backwards! Response locations are my point; Northville Township has members on staff 24/7, at the ready, to respond from the Township Fire Station (within the Township), as does Plymouth currently. Northville City on the other hand has only 1 full time member, the other part-time firefighters come from destinations unknown (coming from home, the Mall, OUTSIDE THE COMMUNITY) . EMT’s, Paramedics, it makes no difference, they respond from the City with a Basic Unit equipped to give expert 1st aid, these paramedics work for the City at a Basic Level. I would hope that the response time for a 2.2 square mile area would be excellent, but it is not, its average for a volunteer department. You admit these times are from when a firefighter arrives at the station and responds, this is the response time, but if I’m Ill or Injured, the time starts from when I call, not when the guy gets to the truck. American Heart Association predicts brain death at 6 minutes and the odds of escaping from a fire significantly decreases after 3.5 minutes (http://www.sacmetrofire.ca.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=166&Itemid=197). You can stand by your 15 minute response times; I, for one, want an experienced trained firefighter/paramedic crew at my door sooner than this, the citizens are being deceived by politicians and you SIR.
M J Ossola February 27, 2011 at 04:25 PM
All of this talk about Northville City merging with Plymouth City - what the heck - why doesn't the Northville City merge with Northville Township. We have a system that many of you have already commented on - no one in the station, paid on call firefighters who do not live in the city of Northville, an EMT service and when a medical transport has to take place, an outside company is called - from where ? I have no clue, but it is not in the city of Northville. Sitting on 6 Mile Northville Township has a fabulous fire department - fully staffed 24/7, certified Paramedics (much more medical training than an EMT) and the ability to transport when they go to each call. The sad part is most of the Northville City residents are unaware of how the "paid on call" department works. We could save a lot of money - only need one Fire Chief and the fire department in the township gets paid for each hospital transport (money the City can not get because they DO NOT transport. The very most important aspect is RESPONSE time. There is no way the City can compare to the Northville Township. The city and the township already share many services - why not the most important one?? We pay higher taxes in the City than the township, yet we have inferior service - why? If this is a political problem between the city and the township that is disgusting. The goal going forward will be to let all City residents of Northville know exactly what kind of fire/medical coverage the City provides.

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