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UPDATE: Northfield Center fire station closed for cleanup after being vandalized with urine

by Briana Barker | Reporter Published: September 19, 2016 5:38 PM
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UPDATE: The Summit County Sheriff's Office on Sept. 20 released a press release seeking information on this incident.

Northfield Center -- The Northfield Center Fire Substation closed at 11 a.m. Sept. 19 due to biohazards and vandalism, according to Macedonia Fire Chief Tim Black.

He said Macedonia firefighters found urine in and on turnout gear, on the mattresses and floor in the fire station.

"It was so bad, I couldn't even tell where (the odor) was coming from," Black said.

Summit County Sheriff's Deputies were called to the scene and are investigating.

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Black said the incident happened some time in the morning on Sept. 19, and he declined to comment on the circumstances regarding its discovery due to the ongoing investigation.

Macedonia firefighters began manning the station Sept. 16 after the Northfield Center-Sagamore Hills Fire District disbanded Sept. 14. Sagamore Hills Township forced the district to close after agreeing to contract with Macedonia for fire service earlier this year -- a move that started heated debate about the fate of fire service in Northfield Center.

Voters in August turned down a 6-mill levy meant to resurrect the Northfield Center Fire Department, and Northfield Center Trustees agreed to contract with Macedonia as well.

Black said he has had evidence that ill feelings remain about the change.

"Since last week we had been getting notes and derogatory comments about me, about my firefighters, personal comments, real eighth-grade stuff," Black said. "But when it rises to people urinating inside turnout gear, it became a biohazard and that's why police are involved."

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He said he isn't sure how those responsible for the vandalism gained access to the station, but he did say the locks would be changed.

He estimates turnout gear will cost $2,000 per firefighter to replace, but did not have number of sets that would need to be replaced. He said mattresses and carpet will also have to be replaced.

Black said the Route 82 station is now unmanned and will remain so until the soiled items can be replaced. Northfield Center Township emergency calls will be answered by additional staff at the Sagamore Hills substation.

Black said there have been no problems at the new substation in Sagamore Hills.

Northfield Center Trustee Paul Buescher said the only way to describe the situation is "absolutely disgusting," adding he believes felony charges would be warranted, but did not say what the specific charges would be.

"This is not some little incident to be swept under the rug," he said.

Buescher said the township will have to pay to replace everything that was destroyed, though he did not have a figure as to what it would cost yet.

He added if the parties responsible are found, he hopes the cost will come out of their pocket.

"It's not like a lack of DNA was left behind," Buescher said.

Briana Barker: 330-541-9432

bbarker@recordpub.com

PREVIOUS STORY:

Northfield Center — The Northfield Center Fire Substation closed at 11 a.m. Sept. 19 due to biohazards and vandalism, according to Macedonia Fire Chief Tim Black.
He said Macedonia firefighters found urine in and on turnout gear, on the mattresses and floor in the fire station.
“It was so bad, I couldn’t even tell where (the odor) was coming from,” Black said.
Summit County Sheriff’s Deputies were called to the scene and are investigating.
Black said the incident happened some time in the morning on Sept. 19, and he declined to comment on the circumstances regarding its discovery due to the ongoing investigation.
Macedonia firefighters began manning the station Sept. 16 after the Northfield Center-Sagamore Hills Fire District disbanded Sept. 14. Sagamore Hills Township forced the district to close after agreeing to contract with Macedonia for fire service earlier this year — a move that started heated debate about the fate of fire service in Northfield Center.
Voters in August turned down a 6-mill levy meant to resurrect the Northfield Center Fire Department, and Northfield Center Trustees agreed to contract with Macedonia as well.

For more on this story, see the Sept. 21 edition of the News Leader.


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TwoCents Sep 21, 2016 1:33 PM

Oh please, excuse my "sexism," MR. Loren Sengstock,

For a man who claims over 30 years of local government experience, you have--within the context of your previous comments--also deemed our local elected officials in Northfield Center to be "unsoffisticated," managed to directly insult and discredit part-time firefighters, as well as council members from Macedonia--naming Sylvia Hanneken personally. YOUR words. An interesting approach, especially coming from someone who used to be employed by the City of Macedonia.

You're right, I am angry with you, but hatred is a bit of a leap. Hatred would require me to take you seriously, which anyone reading your comments could not possibly do. I do not harbor hatred for you, but I will take it upon myself to correct you.

You are not criticizing JUST those firefighters, your comments were meant to demean ALL part-time firefighters. Your current attempt to renege on these comments simply contributes to your complete lack of credibility.

I quote you directly: "Hope that this incident will lay to rest forever the idea of part-time only safety forces."

Guess I missed the part where this only applies to those allegedly responsible, not all part-time firefighters and EMS providers (because it didn't). You then reinforced this comment by saying public safety "requires full-time professionals."

Cities employ part-time professional firefighter/paramedics because it is a way for the city to allocate funds away from expensive overtime budgets (which you should know, you have a background in finance). It's also a way to bring in young, inexperienced firefighter/paramedics and allow them to be trained and benefit from the knowledge and experience of more experienced firefighter/paramedics.

Without the existance of part-time public safety forces, the quality standard of full-time public safety forces would not exist.

You, sir, are an embarrassment. Your comments are embarrassing, your failure to own up to your reckless inaccuracies is embarrassing, and the fact that you were a former city employee who disseminates these comments on a public forum is embarrassing.

If there's something to gather from this: the only thing worse than the person or people who vandalized the turnout gear belonging to fellow firefighters--as well township property--it's you making backhanded comments about our elected leaders and public safety forces, both of which you clearly neither appreciate, nor understand.

The real shame is that they didn't save more of that urine for that large adult lemonade/Kool-Aid and hubris you so seem to enjoy.

- Joe in Macedonia

Citizen_Auditor Sep 21, 2016 10:39 AM

Just for the record, Loren, is a man's name and not a woman's as suggested by the 'sexist' statements below. The woman version of my name is spelled 'Lauren' like Lauren Bacall.

If you read my comments, everything you believe derogatory is intended solely for the perpetrators of these childish and juvenile acts as reported.

My comments in no way demeans or claims that all part-time fire/ems personnel are not true professionals just those that did these discusting acts of vandalism to their fellow fire/ems brothers home and turnout gear.

I also consistently place my name, which I am proud of, on any and all comments made publicly unlike one of the contributors below.

It is obvious from the statements below that the only Kool-Aid being drunk here is by some whom allow anger and hatred to guide their words and deeds.

Once again I want to thank all dedicated professional fire/ems personnel (this includes all part-time, full-time, and volunteers for those struggling with the english language) for their service to all of us and may God bless you and yours for helping those in need.

Loren Sengstock, Former/Retired Finance Director

P.S. I have over 30 years of service in local government(s), not just in Ohio and my comments are based upon a lifetime of experience/knowledge and does not rely in any way upon local politics or kool-aid; which I enjoyed as a young man child but have since grown up and enjoy an occassional adult glass of lemonade.

TwoCents Sep 21, 2016 12:43 AM

In response to Ms.Sengstock:


You're suggesting that part-time firefighters are somehow of a lesser quality and, therefore, incapable of upholding the same standards, and performing the same duties as full-time firefighters.

You then garnish this wholeheartedly ignorant response by saying, "God bless those first responders who put it all on the line for us."

As a former city employee, you should be ashamed of yourself for these kind of misguided, disingenuous comments. By definition, do not all part-time, full-time and volunteer firefighters "put it all on the line for us"? I've never once seen a group of firefighters standing outside the home of someone during a medical emergency or fire say, "we're just part-time, this isn't our problem."

First of all, Northfield Center-Sagamore Hills Fire District is home to a myriad of full-time firefighter/paramedics from other surrounding cities--who are employed in Northfield Center part-time.

Secondly, how dare you suggest that these men and women are not capable of upholding the same standards and levels of care as full-time firefighter/paramedics. Most, if not all, of these men and women were--at one point or another--part-time, before obtaining full-time employment. The same could be said for nearly every single firefighter/paramedic in this area, this state, and the country as a whole.

These men and women maintain state certifications, tirelessly train, and devote countless hours of their time to give back to this community. If a member of your family, or the families of any other resident of this community is having an emergency, do you stop to ask if they are part-time or full-time? No. You trust in them to care for you or your loved one. These are people who unselfishly give back to this community in ways you, clearly, could never fathom, nor appreciate. They too place their personal health, safety, and lives on the line for others--regardless of the pay and benefits that accompany full-time status.

It's a shame that this situation between Macedonia/Northfield Center deteriorated to the point of vandalism, but to label every part-time member of this department as an "undesirable," is about as ignorant a statement as I've ever read. I in no way condone the actions taken by some of these firefighters, but as another old adage states: "Don't let the actions of the few dictate the perception of the many."

P.S. it's "unsoPHisticated," the very word you seem to embody.

-Joe from Macedonia

BC1616 Sep 20, 2016 6:46 PM

I find it very intersting that nothing has been reported about the locks being changed and a day before this incident occured the new leadership had diabled the cameras in the township. As someone with a criminal investigative background this has an inside job written all over it.

As for the name calling, who cares, you will not always be liked. To my knowledge most firemen and women stick together. It's more than likely poor leadership within the departments and municipalities that are stirring this pot.

Sad story for past and present civil servants within the community.

I do agree with island girl. The woman who spoke of blessing all civil servants should not have written such deragatory comments about them the paragraph prior.

B. Collins, Macedonia

Islandgirl23 Sep 20, 2016 3:39 PM

I think it was an inside job.

As for this womens comment below. I think your statement below is BS. You can't say God Bless just after you slammed all part time and volunteer fire employess. Clearly, you've also drank the Kool-aid of small town politics.

"Thank you and God bless those first responders everywhere who put it all on the line for us, each and every day."

Citizen_Auditor Sep 20, 2016 12:30 PM

Northfield Center residents should be seeking accountability for this juvenile unprofessional behavior. This surely indicates there is a need for change in the elected representation that could allow something so demeaning to happen with Northfield Center Township.

Often in smaller townships, the fire departments are part-time and you can clearly see the results in this instance. Many unsoffisticated local leaders do not have the expertise or policy/procedures experience to eliminate the undesirables as witnessed in this situation.

This is another reason it makes tremendous sense for these communities to band together with larger full-time professionally administered departments like Macedonia.

Just for the record, several council persons in Macedonia, like Sylvia Hanneken often infer that they would like the Macedonia Fire/EMS Department run with part-time personnel, so they can save a few bucks. Like the old adage says, 'you get what you pay for'. Hope that this incident will lay to rest forever the idea of part-time only safety forces.

Pubic Safety is the single most important service provided citizens and it requires full-time professionals, committed to excellence. Thank you to all of our first responders whom place their lives in harms way for our health, safety, and welfare. Please remember that most of us really appreciate your being there when our lives are on the line.

Thank you and God bless those first responders everywhere who put it all on the line for us, each and every day.

Loren Sengstock, Former/Retired Finance Director