The Three Rivers City Commission has put its stamp of approval on a proposed agreement for the City of Three Rivers Fire Department to provide fire protection service to the western portion of Lockport Township for a 15-year period beginning in 2014. That portion of Lockport Township is currently served through a contract with the Fabius-Park Fire Department (FPFD), the entity left after Lockport Township’s withdrawal from a partnership in which Lockport, Fabius and Park townships operated a joint fire department for 51 years.
In a unanimous action Tuesday evening (June 4th), the commission approved the agreement as proposed and authorized the City Manager and City Clerk to prepare and sign a formal agreement with Lockport Township. The move follows similar action on May 13th in which the Lockport Township Board voted unanimously to approve the three-point proposal:
- 15-year Service Agreement
- $200,000 Capital Stipend to be applied toward the purchase of a pumper-tanker and a brush truck, with the City of Three Rivers covering the remaining balance from funds requested to replace the 1985 Ford/Pierce pumper
- $87,000 annual service payment, with a 4 percent annual increase to be designated to capital improvements and the residual between annual capital purchases and the service agreement reserved as designated fund balance for Fire Capital.
When asked about borders for the service agreement, Fire Chief Dan Tomlinson said the northern boundary is Edgerton Road and noted that the portion of Lockport Township served by the Centreville Fire Department is the territory east of Neaman Road and south of the St. Joseph River.
In discussion prior to the vote, At-Large Commissioner Daryl Griffith said, ““Personally, I think this is a win/win situation for us . . . but I want to make sure we’re not going to negatively affect our response times.”
Mayor Tom Lowry said, “I’m absolutely for this,” indicated he liked Griffith’s phrase, and said, “I think it’s a win/win.” He went on to say that:
- “Lockport Township saves money”
- the city gains money through the one-time payment to buy equipment to service the township
- and he’s comfortable with the $87,000 annual service fee with a 4 percent annual increase. (Tom Lowery audio clip – 2:17)
Lowry noted the political context that led to development of the Lockport Township Fire Protection Service Agreement and said, “I don’t want bad feelings to be out there. That’s possible with this arrangement.” He said he, City Manager Joe Bippus and Fire Chief Dan Tomlinson “have been talking with elected officials in the townships, not just Lockport, but Fabius and Park, as this thing has transpired so that we can minimize hard feelings and bad feelings because we still are all neighbors and we have to live with each other and work with each other on many other things besides fire service, and we’re doing our best to make sure that happens.”
Lowry revealed that the City of Three Rivers has approached the FPFD about the possibility the city “could pay them (FPFD) instead of buying a second truck” – renting one of FPFD’s vehicles – and suggested that “maybe they could get a revenue stream and we could save money, too.”
Regarding FPFD and the city’s agreement with Lockport Township, Tomlinson said, “This bolsters our initial aid response to them (FPFD) and could possibly influence their replacement cycle. . . . There is regional benefit to this pact.”
Lowry also noted his devotion to maintaining fire-based emergency medical services in an environment in which he said that for-profit entities are trying to take over ambulance service in the area.
To hear the city commission discussion and vote on the motion to move forward with the fire protection service agreement with Lockport Township, click on the following link: Lockport fire coverage discussion – 11:16 – 10.3 MB).
To view a PowerPoint presentation with details about the Lockport Township Fire Protection Proposal – information prepared by Fire Chief Dan Tomlinson and shared during the city commission meeting on May 21st, click here (1:19 MB).