Piqua Commission amends fire training contract


By Eamon Baird

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PIQUA — During their meeting on Tuesday, March 19, The Piqua City Commission passed a resolution to amend the contract with Bowling Green State University (BGSU) regarding the use of the Piqua Fire Training Center.

Ward Four Commissioner Tom Hohman explained the amendment to the joint use agreement, which includes eliminating all language related to battery burning from the original Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Piqua and the BGSU Fire School.

“The key part of attachment A that’s changing is that it says, ‘We’re creating a space for conducting research on fire suppression techniques for burning batteries.’ So that is getting deleted completely and is being replaced with ‘A space for teaching fire certification classes and firefighter continuing education courses, which is much more in line with everybody’s expectations were,’” Hohman said.

Some residents of Piqua expressed frustration with continuing the partnership with BGSU.

“I have a problem with Bowling Green. I’ve told you this from the beginning,” Diana Park said. “Let our firefighters have the building and let them run it.”

“For what BGSU has done, their fire school accreditation should be revoked. We don’t want BGSU in our town,” Jeff Grimes said.

Hohman said this is the first part of the process and the commission is creating an ordinance to mandate that a certified Ohio firefighter is present during fire training exercises.

Piqua Interim Fire Chief Lee Adams and Deputy Police Chief Dave Thomas presented the commissioners their departments plans for conducting safety training at the Fire Training Center.

Adams discussed the necessity for the fire training space.

“This year, 14 of our 24 firefighter positions have less than one year on the department. So, training for the Piqua Fire Department is going to be a huge piece as we move forward and try to build our staff,” Adams said.

Adams added acceptable fuels such as pine excelsior, wooden pallets, straw, hay, and other wood-based products would be burned during the live fire training.

Thomas said the police department will use the space similarly to the fire department.

“The vast majority of our officers right now have less than five years of experience, so now more than ever we need places to do practical applications of some of the things we are training in,” Thomas said.

Adams and Thomas said they would keep open lines of communication with the commissioners, residents, and nearby businesses to ensure safety in and around the training area.

The commission also passed two resolutions for the city of Piqua to provide EMS and fire services for Springcreek and Washington Townships. Residents of both townships will now pay roughly half of what Piqua residents pay for EMS and fire services.

Under the new agreement terms, Springcreek Township will pay Piqua $171,396 in 2024, $256,034 in 2025, and $358,447 in 2026. Washington Township will pay Piqua $150,000 in 2024, $195,696 in 2025, and $239,136 in 2026.

Ward Five Commissioner Frank DeBrosse congratulated City Manager Paul Oberdorfer for working on the new agreement between Piqua and the two townships.

“Thanks for your work in these negotiations. I know there are a lot of folks in Springcreek Township who are also appreciative of the efforts that you put forward to give this time to get the public support built out in the township to get this deal done,” DeBrosse said to Oberdorfer.

During the commissioners’ comments section, Mayor Kris Lee thanked Oberdorfer, Law Director Frank Patrizio and Commissioners Hohman and DeBrosse, for their work on the agreement between Piqua and the two townships.

“All in all, it was a great effort. We got it to where it needed to be and we got agreements with them and I know the citizens and residents there are happy, and we’re going to be happy as well,” Lee said.

In other business, the commissioners passed the following resolutions:

• Final legislation with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) for the Looney Road resurfacing project.

• To authorize the Piqua Fire Department to donate old fire gear to the Upper Valley Career Center for use in their First Responders Academy.

• To enter into an access agreement with the Piqua Improvement Corporation to remove asbestos materials from the former power plant building. The total expenditure of the project is $3,470,000, which will include a grant request for $2,602,500 and a local match of $867,500.

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