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Making a good thing even better

Tiffin Fire Association and City of Tiffin discuss new organizational structure
2018 brought a number of big changes for the Tiffin Fire Association, as can be seen in this file photo taken from the platform atop the ladder on then-new aerial ladder fire truck Ladder 155. In addition, a new pumper truck (at upper left), a two-bay addition to the fire station, and a new exterior look were also acquired. 2021 may see more changes for the all-volunteer firefighting and EMS service as a transition from an independent association to a city operated department are in the works.

TIFFIN– In 1954, the Tiffin Fire Association was formed with the mission of protecting life and property in the city of Tiffin as well as Clear Creek and Union townships; an area of 58 square miles. Over the years the mission has expanded to provide emergency medical services (EMS) as well as fire protection. The all-volunteer force has provided fire protection, disaster response, hazardous materials response, and EMS to the city on a contracted basis.
However, discussions have begun about potentially restructuring the association to a city-operated department.
“The last state audit of the City of Tiffin precipitated the discussion. The association organization was not structured appropriately to handle taxpayer funds from the City of Tiffin,” Tiffin Mayor Steve Berner said, “as well as the potential for a stipend for firefighters and EMT (Emergency Medical Technicians) /First Responders can be offered by the city, which we hope will improve recruitment and retention.” Berner said a short-term transition agreement will guide the process over the next 18 months, at which time it is likely the city will become the provider of emergency services.
On Jan. 11, the association met and voted to transfer operations to the city, according to City Administrator Doug Boldt. “However, that is about as far as we’ve gotten with it at this point. It is going to be a lengthy process to transfer all assets, update township agreements, and put together a transition agreement.” A transition committee consisting of current association members, fire department officers and city council representatives has been formed, but as of Friday, Jan. 29, had not yet met.
During a city council budget work session on Wednesday, Jan. 27, consensus of the councilors was to start budgeting for the fire department in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021-2022 budget. “This will allow the city to potentially start applying for some fire department grants,” Boldt said. “We think big picture, this will be a good thing for everyone involved.”
The city and association partnership has, in recent years, included the purchasing of apparatus, such as the 101-foot aerial ladder fire truck, purchased in 2018. The city purchased the $1 million truck through general obligation bonds. The association also purchased a $550,000 pumper truck in 2018 with its own funding.
“The fire department is a great group of dedicated individuals that provide a vital service to the community,” said Boldt. “The intent is only to enhance that service by providing the necessary resources as Tiffin continues to grow.”