Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fire board to replace verbal ‘hearsay’ policies

By DYLAN LYSEN, Herald Staff Writer | 3/19/2014

RICHMOND — The word-of-mouth policy is going silent.

The Richmond City-Township Fire District Board is set to begin developing a written policy for many subjects that previously have been decided by verbal policy. Alan Radcliffe, Franklin County emergency management director and Pomona assistant fire chief, spoke to the board Monday, encouraging board members to devise a set policy to which the board can refer in times of need.

RICHMOND — The word-of-mouth policy is going silent.

The Richmond City-Township Fire District Board is set to begin developing a written policy for many subjects that previously have been decided by verbal policy. Alan Radcliffe, Franklin County emergency management director and Pomona assistant fire chief, spoke to the board Monday, encouraging board members to devise a set policy to which the board can refer in times of need.

Having a written policy would allow the board members to refer to a code when making decisions, Radcliffe said, which could have been useful in February when the board considered selling emergency response vehicles. Volunteer firefighters argued the board tried to make decisions without speaking with the fire chief, Steve Weese or the volunteer firefighters.

Radcliffe stressed that communication between the board and the department is important, noting the board should speak with the chief before decisions are made, although the chief is considered an employee of the board.

With the controversial decision to sell an emergency response vehicle settled down, Radcliffe said his opinion was that the department should have one of each emergency response vehicle — a fire engine, a grass fire truck and a tanker — as a bare minimum for vehicles.

“I understand purchasing equipment at times can be something that puts people on edge, because we’re spending money,” Radcliffe said. “But on the other hand, I have yet to see money sitting in a savings account put out a fire.”

Radcliffe offered to allow the Richmond City Township Fire District to use the Pomona Volunteer Fire Department’s written policy as a reference guide to help it develop its own written policy. Charlie Hirtz, board member, said the current policy always has been based on “hearsay,” which Radcliffe said might cause confusion, especially when new members of the board are added. Radcliffe also said he would want a department to have a written policy to protect itself from serious problems.

“You sure don’t want a sexual harassment lawsuit, or a drinking-and-driving-involved in a fire truck and you guys not having the policy that covers it,” Radcliffe said.

The board decided to begin drafting a policy to bring to next month’s meeting for approval.

Along with policy writing, Radcliffe advised the board to make a written inventory of all equipment owned by the fire department. By writing a full inventory, the department would have documents to show insurance companies what they owned if items were damaged or stolen. Weese said he was in the process of creating an inventory list but was not yet finished.

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