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Despite staffing concerns, officials say most fire district firefighters still reporting for work

by Briana Barker | Reporter Published: September 7, 2016 12:00 AM

Northfield Center -- After a meeting of the Northfield Center-Sagamore Hills Fire District Board, and meetings at the fire department level, officials say Macedonia will have to fill less than 10 fire district shifts, despite fears of the "Blue Flu."

According to Sagamore Hills Trustee Dave DePasquale, there was no paramedic on duty Aug. 27 and the district was short staffed until 3 p.m. on Aug. 28.

Both he and Northfield Center Trustee Paul Buescher said they felt the firefighters who removed themselves from the schedule were doing so in protest of the district dissolving.

District Fire Chief Frank Risko said no calls were missed as a result of the short-staffing, but mutual aid was requested from Brecksville and Macedonia over the weekend of Aug. 27-28.

Fire district Trustees met Aug. 29 and asked Macedonia to fill any vacant shifts through Sept. 14, when the district dissolves and Macedonia is expected to take over fire protection for the two townships.

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The city and Sagamore Hills have an agreement in place. An agreement between Northfield Center and the city was pending as of press time Sept. 2.

Risko said he met with district firefighters Aug. 30 to make sure a schedule was in place and enough personnel were available to work until the district dissolves Sept. 14.

"It was a very difficult night, as we realized it was likely the last time we would all be together," Risko said. "We have a very close-knit group and the ones that are still here are with us until the end."

He said two firefighters have now left for full-time jobs, one with North Royalton and one with Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

Macedonia Fire Chief Tim Black told the News Leader Sept. 1 that district firefighters will cover "90 percent" of the district's final shifts, leaving less than 10 shifts for city firefighters to cover.

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"The guys in Northfield Center have really stepped up and we will supplement staff on a very sporadic basis," Black said. "This is a very tough situation for all of us but the utmost concern is the service to the public."

He added the fire district employees are "very dedicated."

Risko said he is appreciative of Macedonia's efforts to help out filling the vacant shifts and he plans to assist with the transition to make it as smooth as possible. He added he is very thankful for all of Northfield Village's support as well.

"There is no bitterness with the takeover," he said. "We are all firefighters and that's how the guys see it too."

Risko said he will miss every single firefighter he has worked with.

"Thank you to each and everyone of my firefighters for their respect and professionalism," Risko said. "There are no words to express how proud I am of you all. All I can say is a really warm thank you and they are the best."

Briana Barker: 330-541-9432

bbarker@recordpub.com

https://twitter.com/thenewsleader

www.facebook.com/RPCNewsLeader


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