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Posted on Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Ann Arbor fire chief says now is 'prime time' to create regional fire authority

By Ryan J. Stanton

Ann Arbor Fire Chief Chuck Hubbard says he's still in favor of consolidating area fire departments and forming a regional fire authority — an idea that's been kicked around for years.

"We've been talking about it probably for five or six years now, trying to do that," Hubbard told "The unions all have to get on board, the politicians have to get on board, the chiefs have to get on board. I think at the chiefs level, we're pretty much ready to do it."

With the retirements of fire chiefs in both the city of Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor Township, Hubbard said it makes sense now more than ever to think seriously about a regional fire authority.


Ann Arbor Fire Chief Chuck Hubbad at his desk in 2011.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"That's the time you want to do it, when the chiefs are leaving," he said. "If you get a new chief, that creates another hurdle. So this would be the prime time to create something like that."

The level of momentum around the idea doesn't seem to match Hubbard's enthusiasm for it, though. Even he characterized the talks as "stagnant."

"And if you look at what's going on in Ypsi city right now, they're talking about a hybrid system that's a police and fire combination," he said.

Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti officials have been engaged in loose discussions within the last few years about eventually moving toward a regional fire authority.

But that idea essentially has been put on hold as the city of Ypsilanti, in an effort to cut costs, is pursuing a new hybrid public safety model that involves consolidating the city's police and fire departments and cross-training police officers and firefighters to do both jobs.

In a report Ypsilanti officials submitted to the state in February as part of the state's incentive funding process for municipalities, they acknowledged creating a regional fire authority as soon as 2014 remains an option, but the idea is temporarily on hold.

"A fire authority will require an agreement between policy makers, labor unions, and administration," Ypsilanti's report to the state reads, going on to acknowledge members of the proposed authority "continue to fail to successfully navigate these three issues."

The report mentions four meetings were held in February, July, September and October last year where representatives from Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor, Pittsfield Township and Ypsilanti Township discussed collaborating in ways that could lead to a regional fire department.

The report notes they've looked at standardizing fire and building codes, sharing or contracting prevention services, and creating an arson task force. They've also talked about enhancing the box alarm system for mutual aid to an "automatic aid response."


The Ypsilanti Fire Department could be combined with the police department into a larger public safety department under a proposal being considered.

Jeffrey Smith |

Ypsilanti officials said it's their intention to continue meeting with the other area fire departments and to collaborate in ways that cut costs and improve safety.

In the last year, the Wayne and Westland fire departments merged services, as did those of Pontiac and Waterford. Hubbard, who lives in Westland, cited the new Wayne-Westland Fire Authority as an example Ann Arbor could follow to create a singular fire entity for the area.

"There are many ways you could set that up," he said. "It would help to get someone in here who was an expert in that area and let them kind of guide you as to how to do it."

Hubbard sees a regional authority as an improvement over mutual aid.

"Mutual aid is a request for help. This would be automatic, when the bell rings the closest trucks would go," he said. "It makes sense to have a system that sends the closest truck to the fire."

Former Ypsilanti Fire Chief Jon Ichesco, who retired in December, was in favor of the idea of a larger fire district that would include Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, and the townships of Pittsfield, Ypsilanti Superior and Ann Arbor if those jurisdictions were interested.

As recently as December, the city of Ann Arbor was in talks with neighboring Ann Arbor Township regarding a potential merger of their two municipal fire departments. The township turned down the city's request, saying it wasn't in the best interest of township residents.

"It didn't save us any money and it lengthened response times," said Township Supervisor Michael Moran. "They proposed to close our two stations and respond from a station that's farther away."

Moran said it was difficult for him to comment on the larger idea of a regional fire authority since there's no specific proposal on the table.

"We have not been participating in any discussions," he said. "There's a relationship between Ypsilanti and the city of Ann Arbor, and there are mutual aid agreements between many departments, but I have not heard of anything regarding a wider-ranging proposal."

Moran said it makes sense to move in the direction of regional collaboration, and the improvement of mutual aid among departments in recent years has been a good first step.

"There's been some thought that perhaps if there was a wider area, there might be the ability to close some stations or combine equipment use, but for each jurisdiction you have to look at it and see if it makes sense," he said of creating a regional authority.


The Ann Arbor Fire Department has 86 full-time employees and a budget that totals about $14 million.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"We have modern equipment, we have a dedicated income stream and no legacy costs, so any sort of regional approach would have to leave us in a similar position," he added.

Moran said Ann Arbor Township doesn't currently have a mutual aid agreement with the city of Ann Arbor, but it has such agreements with other local jurisdictions.

Matt Harshberger, director of public safety for Pittsfield Township, said the box alarm system for mutual aid among four participating fire departments — Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township and Pittsfield Township — has been very effective.

The way the box alarm system works, if the initial alarm of firefighters responding to a fire determines upon arrival that mutual aid is needed, it can trigger the dispatch of a second and even third alarm of firefighters from the other jurisdictions.

Harshberger said Pittsfield Township is always interested in exploring regional efforts to maximize collaboration and provide the best service to the public.

He said he personally isn't involved in any discussions about forming a regional fire authority, but he knows Ypsilanti officials had brought up the idea in the past.

"It never got far enough along that we actually sat down and crunched numbers to see if it would be a benefit for Pittsfield," he said.

"Really the box alarm was a first step," he added. "It has worked really well. We've had to tweak it a few times to maximize its effectiveness, but so far that's about it.

"There haven't been any further discussions about going past that right now, other than to get more departments to participate in the box alarm system."

Hubbard said there would be many details to work out for a regional fire authority, including how it would be funded. Right now fire services in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti are funded by the cities' general funds, while Ypsilanti Township and Pittsfield Township have special millages.

Hubbard said he's not sure which municipalities would buy in, but he said it would make sense to include at least the four communities already participating in the box alarm system.

"I would suspect those four would be pretty major players in it," he said. "And then possibly Superior and Ann Arbor townships may come on board since we're all connected in a way."

Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje said he's working with Yousef Rabhi, the new chairman of the county board, to resurrect the Washtenaw Metro Alliance, a coalition of local government officials Hieftje helped form a decade ago to focus on regional collaboration, including on fire services.

"I'm a big believer in regionalization," Hieftje said. "This is the modern trend in fire services. We can cover the area and provide better service to our residents with regionalization."

The mayor put it another way: "If my house is on fire and firefighters show up, I don't really care which department they're from."

Hieftje said he sees a singular regional fire department as a good longterm goal, but in the shorter term he said local governments need to remove barriers to greater collaboration.

"There are some labor contract barriers out there that need to be resolved," he said, pointing to a provision in the Ann Arbor firefighters contract, for example, that requires the city, if there's a box alarm request for mutual aid where other departments are called in at no extra cost to the city, the city also must call back its own firefighters from two shifts that are off duty to respond as well.

"And we pay a minimum of four hours of overtime to anyone who is en route, and that typically runs $1,000 to $1,500 per occurrence and it could be more than that," Hieftje said. "We need to look throughout the region at the barriers that prevent us from fully utilizing our resources."

In addition to its partners in the box alarm system, Ann Arbor also is part of a countywide mutual aid pack where it can request aid — although not automatic — from departments throughout the county.

The Ann Arbor Fire Department provided mutual aid 33 times and received mutual aid 29 times in 2012, according to figures provided by Hubbard.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 12:23 p.m.

Quote from Chief Hubbard "It makes sense to have a system that sends the closest truck to the fire." That's the problem. It makes SENSE which is what seems to be lacking lately.


Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 11:46 a.m.

@ Ryan Stanton perhaps you should request to see the proposal Ann Arbor City presented to Ann Arbor Twp for merging the fire departments and speak with both chiefs to get there views. I know I would love to see that article and Im sure it would enlighten our citizens

Sam S Smith

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 2:52 p.m.

I'm for this! Thank you citizenx!


Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 3:57 a.m.

@ypsigirl4ever I was once a citizen of ypsi twp and if you think having 6 firefighters on duty each day to cover approx 30 square miles is sufficient then you might want to brush up on reality. Listening to you makes one think you have a personal or vested interest in the ypsi twp fire dept ? Regionalization would benefit your twp in the largest way !


Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 6:23 p.m.

Nardia and Sam, Thanks for your comments. Again, anyone would vote down Ypsilanti Township Residents taking a rightful vote as Taxpayers on combining with any ad-hoc "Regional Fire Service Authority", says PLENTY on what's the real agenda is here. Also, Thanks to our Ypsilanti Township Government Officials on keeping taxes low and fire/police/garbage/ems/recreation/etc. services stellar in our community. We appreciate your efforts. As for folks outside of Ypsilanti Township who seek to tell Township residents what to do, how to do it and when we should do it, as our government fiscal budget is IN THE BLACK, it proves that we can handle all of these tasks, ourselves. Thank you! Have a great afternoon.


Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 4:56 p.m.

I live in the Township and there's no way I want to merge our Fire department with the rest of the county. I appreciate our Board and the fact that they work hard to keep our taxes low while still providing great services. Contract our department and we'll show you how to run efficiently, but try to dictate to us that we need your high priced service and we'll give you the boot.

Sam S Smith

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

Wow another vote down for legitimate questions! This only serves against your cause not for it.

Sam S Smith

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 1:33 p.m.

Please explain in detail how regionalization would benefit. Can you answer the other questions in the posts? Listening to people in favor of this but are not explaining this in detail and not answering people's questions makes people think that there is a personal or vested interest in regionalization. So as you can see, it can work both ways. If an idea is presented without details and honest data, do you really expect people buy into it? Please give a detailed explanation and show the plan. And people should be able to vote on this. We do live in a democracy.


Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 4:52 a.m.

You were ONCE. Great thank you. I'm now and pay TAXES in this Township which makes my personal interest very vested at this point and time. As for a regional authority, let's put this to a test of Township voters --you know like residents who LIVE and PAY TAXES now in the Township, and we'll see what's the outcome. Or are you against allowing those with a direct, vested interest in what happens to their Fire Services, to not vote on this opinion also?


Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 3:20 a.m.

At some point we as citizens are going to have to reframe from acting like experts in the fire business. I understand that everyone is entitled to there opinion, but we should put our trust in the professionals who are in the business of firefighting and stop arm chair quarter backing. I can only imagine how upset most of you would be if the fire chief was trying to tell you how to run your business !! Things are not always as bad as they seem, and we as citizens need to understand that restructuring is a common practice in many occupations across the nation. For those of you who have short memories it was just a few years ago that the fire department laid off employees, and were dealing with broken down fire trucks, now since the new chief has been in office they have reinstated those laid off , hired an additional 7 firefighters, and purchased new fire trucks. Sounds to me like he knows something about progress ! Do you want to put your faith in the facts or the unwarranted emotional comments....

Sam S Smith

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

Also, the name "irritated" speaks volumes. That in itself is rather "emotional!"

Sam S Smith

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 1:20 p.m.

I think that it's more skepticism than emotional. We are being bombarded with a lot of ideas that are presented with skewed data that shows the "need" but does not demonstrate viability, safety, etc. People need to ask questions and voice opinions. With the economy, the higher and ever increasing taxes and cost of daily living, frozen wages, the fact that there are other costs to consider (bailing out Detroit, the increasing national debt with the threat of N. Korea and Iran, etc. to personal costs such as their childrens' higher education) people are thinking ahead, wanting to save, wanting to be environmental friendly, etc. Again, people need to ask questions and voice opinions. These ideas or projects focus on their agenda only. If not, then someone please step up and give more explanation and answer the questions. People are looking at things at all angles. We should be a team not sheep!


Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 4:56 a.m.

Someday, folks who live outside of the community of Ypsilanti Township and others, are going to have to allow the taxpayers in these Townships to decide what happens in these communities; and I could not agree more. Emotional comments out of the way, we ARE taxpayers, residents and voters. Have a lovely day!


Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 3:50 a.m.

Well put I couldnt agree more !!!!

Dan Cain

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 3:16 a.m.

In response to some of the questions asked from my previos post. Lansing and E. Lansing are sharing a Chief. Federal guidlines for fire response are much more than response times. There are also set benchmarks for the number of firefighters needed and at what time intervals they should arrive on scene. Maybe could contact some of the municipalities that have merged fire services in some sort of way and write a story on why they did this and the advantages.

Sam S Smith

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 5:13 p.m.

I'm asking what others have done, how it has worked or not worked for them because maybe we can learn something. If nothing more what to do, what not to do, etc.

Sam S Smith

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 5:02 p.m.

Thank you Solitude! Just asking here but can some of these questions be answered with various regional models already in place? For example, Lansing and East Lansing, etc. What have they encountered both good and bad. Safety? Cost savings? Geography? Home insurance? Taxes up or down?


Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 4:47 p.m.

@Sam S Smith, you're asking questions that can't be answered without there being a specific regional model on the table. There are lots of ways to accomplish the idea. The general benefits of a properly-executed regional arrangements have been posted already. All people are talking about now is looking at the idea. Specifics are appropriate of course, but you have to have a plan to offer specifics, both pro and con.

Sam S Smith

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 2:38 p.m.

I can't believe someone voted this down! Does this mean when you look at something you only consider the advantages and not the entire picture?

Sam S Smith

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 1:02 p.m.

OK I"m listening but don't forget to give the disadvantages as well.

Paul Schreiber

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 2:38 a.m.

I appreciate Ypsilanti Fire Department Captain Dan Cain's comments. Currently Ypsilanti city is considering a hybrid public safety model where the fire department is reduced in size and the police department is cross-trained as fire fighters. However, I don't think this precludes Ypsilanti city's participation in a regional fire department in the future. Paul Schreiber


Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 2:33 p.m.

Did you see the story about the Berrien county ff that was injured and burned very badly when his P.S.O. Officers wouldn't enter the burning house with him? Cops are cops... ff's are ff's. A regional system for eastern washtenaw county might work but not if you want to wait and experiment with YFD lives first.

Linda Peck

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 12:53 a.m.

Opening the "vote" to people certainly changes the outcome, doesn't it?

Sam S Smith

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 12:28 a.m.

Ann Arbor mayor: Hmmm, there's no way I can possibly sell the funding for the new train station using tax payer dollars when our fire department is below recommended NFPA 1710 response time. How can I get rid of the fire department dilemma and get my new choo choo station?

Sam S Smith

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 11:07 p.m.

Is this some sort of ploy by the mayor? Submit all his half baked ideas at once so as to stun the citizens? We're stunned all right! Maybe we should be thinking about impeachment...

Sam S Smith

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 10:44 p.m.

If stations are closing in this regional consolidation what would be the response time? Are our home insurance rates going to go up? How will this affect taxes? This is another thing that should be brought to vote by the citizens then not just from the suspicious polling by

Sam S Smith

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 8:29 p.m.

Here's a solution Basic Bob, get rid of the illegal art fund, quit the new train station idea and use some of the excess from DDA to help fund Ann Arbor Fire Dept.

Sam S Smith

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

Basic Bob, these questions in this post are important. Were they addressed at the city council meetings? If so, I'd think that they would be reported on as well. If you were there, can you answer them?

Basic Bob

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 2:37 a.m.

You need to attend some city council meetings where they have actual discussions about these serious issues, and occasionally take time to entertain possible solutions.

Sam S Smith

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 10:30 p.m.

Regarding your polls again, how long has this been up? So the supporters are now flocking to suddenly vote in the polls? Out of how many votes cast? 13 like before? Something is not quite adding up here. are you a minion of the mayor?

Sam S Smith

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 10:26 p.m.

I find your polls rather perplexing. Comments are more against it than not (Just as with the new train station) yet your results show otherwise? Not only that but the people who are in favor of Hietje's ideas do not answer people's questions in the posts. Can it be that they cannot answer these questions? I would like to think that they could give solid evidence that support their ideas.

Sam S Smith

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 8:49 p.m.

"There's been some thought that perhaps if there was a wider area, there might be the ability to close some stations or combine equipment use, but for each jurisdiction you have to look at it and see if it makes sense," he said of creating a regional authority. Close stations and combine equipment? And this makes sense how?

Larry Baird

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 8:27 p.m.

What about the elephant in the room? Next year Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and all cities with underfunded pension and healthcare plans will have to change their accounting standards and begin reporting those numbers on their basic financial statements. So my question is - would a new regional authority assume those funding gaps and inherit those underfunded plans?


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 7:43 p.m.

The "Grand Plan" to take over Townships rich revenue, by Cities who are working with the mentally mindset that has "worked so well" with "Emergency Manager Mandates" our Governor has mandated to cities is coming for us. Townships who by annexation measures decades before decided we didn't want to be tied financially or otherwise with surrounding larger Cities. Make no mistake, this is a vain attempt to rid us our revenue gained by sound financial management of our Elected Local Governmental Officials in Ypsilanti, Pittsfield, Ann Arbor, Augusta, Bridgewater, Lyon, Lodi, Manchester, Northfield, Freedom, Lima, Saline, Salem, Scio, Superior, Sharon, York and Webster Townships. Townships to my knowledge --despite all being impacted by the financial crisis of 2008 with decreasing housing values-- are not in an "Financial Crisis". Take this to heart because this "regional authority" mess sole intent is to change this important fact for OUR TOWNSHIPS. Another comment about Ypsilanti-Willow Run Schools merger is irrelevant to this discussion, and attempts to "tie it in loosely" should be ignored. The problem with Ypsi-Willow Run was a lack of revenue due to students and families leaving these districts, seeking to educate their children in either Charter Schools and/or other Communities. Township are NOT having a mass exit of residents leaving, and then moving into the Cities in Washtenaw County, because typically Townships have LOWER TAXES than those surrounding cities. So, what is this "regional authority" about? One, busting unionized contracts many of these Township engage in with our fire and/or law enforcement authorities that perform a great job protecting OUR communities. It's about ending OUR voice in Localized Government, whether that voice is operated by a Democrat or Republican majority. We have to stand together against all attempts to instill "Detroit 2.0/Emergency Financial Management&quot

Dan Cain

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 7:38 p.m.

As a member of the city of Ypsilanti firefighters local 401, I want to let people know that unions are interested in looking at the concept of regionalization. The Ann Arbor firefighter and Ypsilanti firefighter unions have a signed agreement supporting closer, more in-depth discussions on the pros and cons for everyone involved. This includes looking at the impact for municipalities, firefighters and the citizens we serve. Fire departments are being combined in many areas around the United States, in different fashions. In the Indianapolis area, fire departments have been doing this for several years, and are still adding departments to their integrated service model. In the Lansing area, the 2 largest departments are sharing a Fire Chief, saving each entity one-half the cost of a full time Chief. Locally, the Chelsea, Saline and Milan area fire departments are all regionalized departments with each covering several different governmental jurisdictions. They are each governed by a fire board. The fire service in Washtenaw County currently operates the Washtenaw co. technical rescue team and the Washtenaw County hazardous material team that are governed by a board offering all communities a level of protection that would be cost prohibitive in any other fashion. Our area fire departments are all staffed with well trained, dedicated professionals who do the best they can every day. That doesn't change the fact that we all are short of making the federally recognized standards for fire response that include staffing and response times. I urge both citizens and municipalities to look at regionalization with an open mind. The benefits are far reaching, yet hopefully never needed by you or your family.

Sam S Smith

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 10:38 p.m.

Are the unions meeting for this to save pensions? Money? Would this consolidation, which if more stations are closed, mean decrease response times? Will home insurance go up then to cover the homes damaged or lost to fire because of a decreased response time? If you're going to open a can of worms here, you'd better spill it all out so we can see what's really going on here!

Sam S Smith

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 10:17 p.m.

No answer? I don't know it seems like everyone's taxes are going up and up and we're getting less services or bare bones. Show us the data that this is working very well, how this could benefit us and people may like it


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 9:46 p.m.

Excellent post Dan.

Sam S Smith

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 8:18 p.m.

1) Who will honestly share the pros and cons with us? 2) What two largest departments in the Lansing area are sharing a Fire Chief (and that seems to me that's a lot different than sharing fire departments located across a county) 3) How would regionalization meet federally recognized standards for fire response?

E. Daniel Ayres

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 6:47 p.m.

From a purely theoretical point of view, the cost structure for such a system should actually decrease administrative overhead and reduce redundant expenses for everything from equipment to staffing with a great possibility for an actual improvement in the level of services delivered. There are a whole lot of parochial interests which compete with this objective, for example, within department promotions, overtime expectations, etc., etc. as well as differences between negotiated working rules between the jurisdictions involved. Ever since I migrated here from Pennsylvania back in 1968, I've been an advocate of placing much more authority and administrative responsibility in the hands of county-wide administrative structures. The savings in school costs and public service costs for this type of consolidation come from decreases in "management overhead" and reduction in fragmented administrative jurisdictions. I would love to see a study of just how much money could be saved if schools, fire and rescue, roads and bridges, etc., etc. were all run "county wide." The 6 Million dollar incentive package the state funded to consolidate Willow Run and Ypsilanti under supervision of WISD shows how valuable the state thinks that jurisdictional mergers can be to the long term fiscal viability of the services involved. Frankly the way that grant is being squandered because of a self-serving state wide amendment exempting superintendents from the elimination of contractual obligations along with consolidation is a fiscal crime! Professional "golden parachutes" in the administration of schools should be eliminated along with teacher's union contracts when districts are consolidated, forcing complete renegotiation/restructuring of contracts under the consolidated administrative structure. This is the only way that real savings from consolidation can be achieved!


Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 1:49 p.m.

Not to be to distract to much from the points you are trying to make, but since you brought it up, and then defended it YpsiGirl4Ever - Regarding the use of the word annexation in your sample quote: "THE CHARTER TOWNSHIP ACT (EXCERPT) Act 359 of 1947 "42.34 Exemption of charter township from annexation to contiguous city or village; exceptions...." and then your defending comment that the key term is "annexed away from cities" ---- Exemption from annexation TO a city is not the same as being "annexed away from a city." You really can't be annexed away from something.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 9:49 p.m.

Solitude, So, you refuse to recoginze historical Michigan State LAW that sets legal presence on this issue and, instead carry on a "rant" about Jefferson and the like. Rather than waste anymore time out of my beautiful Sunday going back and forth with the finer points of Michigan Statutorial Law, I'll allow your "words" to speak for themselves. Again, for the final time, have a wonderful Sunday evening.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 9:44 p.m.

Rant on. The township as it exists in Michigan dates back to the 1785 Northwest Land Ordinance authored by Thomas Jefferson. "The NWO provided the basic framework for the settlement and governance of the Northwest Territory which became the states of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin...Jefferson developed the rectangular grid survey which permitted the identification of property. Survey townships were 6 miles square (36 sections) placing local government in close proximity to its citizens." Villages and cities were mostly, not all, formed inside existing township boundaries that had existed since the late 1700's. In many cases, cities added to their land holdings by annexing township property, by mutual agreement.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 9:25 p.m.

Solitude, Yes, let's not let the facts stand in my way or for that instance, State Law which I'm sure someone with your "vast" knowledge base knew existed. "THE CHARTER TOWNSHIP ACT (EXCERPT) Act 359 of 1947 "42.34 Exemption of charter township from annexation to contiguous city or village; exceptions...." I'm sure you can read the rest here -- key term is Townships by this Act "annexed away from cities". The link: Oh and of course by your opined words, "the majority of the townships in MI existed years and years before any cities inside them were incorporated," wrote Solitude. Does the year 1947 above ring a bell with you? Before this point, entities outside of a city were called VILLAGES and many do still exist in Michigan. Here's were you can read up on this fact: THE GENERAL LAW VILLAGE ACT - Act 3 of 1895 - So you were saying again? Nevermind and have a great Sunday evening.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 7:30 p.m.

@YpsiGirl, the word "annex" means "to append or attach," "to join together materially." Something can not be "annexed away" from something else. Also, the majority of the townships in MI existed years and years before any cities inside them were incorporated. But hey, don't let facts get in the way of anything.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 7:20 p.m.

Thank you but as a lifelong S.E. Michigan Resident and looking at the comments many other lifelong Washtenaw County Residents agree....we like our Governmental make up and associated services, just the way things are. With such, Townships annexed away from City Authorities for a reason and it should stay JUST THAT WAY. Have a great afternoon!

ms 2013

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 6:27 p.m.

i sure didnt know he was a brother ok now cheif


Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

It's spelled Chief


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 11:26 p.m.

He's your brother, and you're JUST now finding out? Well, good for you both, congratulations!


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 6:10 p.m.

As a township resident, I want no part of the dysfunctional Ann Arbor city government. This would not be a merger of equals, over time the larger, more powerful, governmentally agency would get their way. And I would be interested to know how current legacy cost of Ann Arbor would impact my taxes, if any.

Dog Guy

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 5:37 p.m.

The comments thus far are heavily contra-regional. It is time to reset the comments section.

Sam S Smith

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 7:55 p.m.

Sure why not, just as long as the comments all support one idea and that is Heiftje's

Basic Bob

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 6:33 p.m.

I think a millage for the moat would pass in the city. It might pass in the county, too.

Linda Peck

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 5:33 p.m.

The poll seems to have closed a few days earlier than March 21. I would like to vote.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 5:27 p.m.

Regional fire authorities work very well in other states, and would here also if we adopt an effective model. That means adequate representation of each involved community on the board, an independent administrator and a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to allowing sitting politicians to be directly involved in the board and the day-to-day administration. Regional authorities have to be independent bodies that look at their service area as one large community. They have to operate for the betterment of the entire community, and completely ignore political boundaries. Every resident of the service area covered has to pay the same amount for service and has to have the same level of service as everyone else.

Sam S Smith

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 7:36 p.m.

Dear Solitude, I don't know where you live but when your house burns down because the townships can't get to it, you can call Hieftje.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 7:02 p.m.

Where in either of my posts do you see any recommendations about any community doing anything? I simply offered some generic information. Keep your agenda, and your obvious biases, to yourself. Also, my second post was completed before I saw your rant, so your "spin" comment is also misdirected.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 6:18 p.m.

Solitude, Nice SPIN, "Cities, townships etc. cease collecting the portion of their revenues that go to support fire services and reduce their tax levies accordingly," but we're not falling for it. Again, this is NOT DETROIT. Our taxable revenue in the Township specifically is allocated to maintain Police, Fire, Garbage and EMS services for our residents. All of which operates quite effectively and IN THE BLACK. Good luck trying the Corporate Spin on "reducing tax levies" as People see with Detroit what happens when taxable revenue is reduced, collected properly or leaves completely out of a City. An "Emergency Financial Manager" is waiting in the brinks and at demand of the Governor will sell off Public Assets for pennies on the dollar. No thanks, again....we're doing just fine!


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 5:49 p.m.

I almost forgot, in other states, these regional authorities directly collect the money for their operations from the taxpayers, not from the governmental units of the participating communities. This is a critical factor that insulates operating revenue from political whims and retribution. Cities, townships etc. cease collecting the portion of their revenues that go to support fire services and reduce their tax levies accordingly.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 5:47 p.m.

Solitude, We are NOT Detroit. In our Township we don't need, want or desire an "Emergency Financial Manager" or "regional authority" to tell us what to do with OUR Fire Department. The Men and Women who work for OUR Fire Department give a remarkable service to the Ypsilanti Township community and we are very proud of them. Additionally, they have taken cuts and tailored unionized contracts to allow for the financial savings necessary to keep the Township's financial data IN THE BLACK. With such, NO and I'm speaking for myself here (but I believe many other Township residents would agree) we have NO NEED or DESIRE to have a regional fire authority with the City of Ann Arbor. An mutual aid agreement already exist with other fire departments in Eastern Washtenaw County and that's quite good enough. Stop trying to convince Townships across Washtenaw County that this so-called "regional authority" is anything other than to take revenue and assets out of well-managed (financially) Townships for the monetary gains of a few key individuals in Local and State Government. Township residents and property owners pay OUR TAXES to maintain services in OUR TOWNSHIPS. Maybe the Cities need to learn how to manage their financial affairs better and stop trying to fleece off our OUR REVENUE. Thank you!


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 5:17 p.m.

Why does Ann Arbor persist in hiring people who are not from, or do not live in, Ann Arbor. MANY examples! Let's use our local talent who have put in their time and know the city!


Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 7:32 p.m.

Because cities hire the BEST people for the job. Are you telling me no one from Ann Arbor works in Ann Arbor?

Ryan J. Stanton

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 5:02 p.m.

Sorry about the closed poll, everyone. We're transitioning to a new poll system and I think this poll was set up in the old system before the transition started, so it's not working now. I'm checking to see if we can get a working poll added shortly. Stay tuned.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 4:59 p.m.

How about the Ann Arbor Fire Chief speaks for his City only and not Ypsilanti Township Residents wants or desires? Thank you!

Kai Petainen

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 3:44 p.m.

I have an idea. Sim City 5 just came out. Someone recreate Ann Arbor in that game and tell us how it turns out.....

E. Daniel Ayres

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 6:55 p.m.

I'm NOT a gamer these days, but a real-world simulation based on current administrative and cost structures would clearly show that a very significant cost savings would be possible without any loss in responsiveness or service levels, and that the consolidation would have great potential to actually make marked improvements. With global warming induced storms we will need consolidated service areas more and more.

Alan Goldsmith

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 3:27 p.m.

Bingo. If we ONLY had a Mayor who looked out for the taxpayers in the same way Ann Arbor Township appears to: "As recently as December, the city of Ann Arbor was in talks with neighboring Ann Arbor Township regarding a potential merger of their two municipal fire departments. The township turned down the city's request, saying it wasn't in the best interest of township residents. "It didn't save us any money and it lengthened response times," said Township Supervisor Michael Moran. "They proposed to close our two stations and respond from a station that's farther away."

Alan Goldsmith

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 3:26 p.m.

No one in other governmental units outside of the City of Ann Arbor trusts Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje for a second. It's what regional cooperation is never going to work until he's replaced with a political leader the townships and other cities trust. When Hifftje talks about public safety and not 'art' safety, don't trust anything he says for a second.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 4:50 p.m.

@Alan Goldsmith: Good point! Perhaps how many inside Ann Arbor's government trust him is also a good question?


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 3:09 p.m.

If i live on the westside of A2 and there are two major fires in the city at the same time, whereas, my fire dept can't service since there isn't enough staff for AAFD, I don't want to wait for a "trigger" from Ypsi, Pittsfield, A2 Twnshp, (etc) to fight my fire. First the time it takes for those other depts to arrive, second, are they even remotely familiar with my side of town? Try finding S. Revena at no a.m. in the morning.

Fat Bill

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 3:01 p.m.

What is really holding our state back from a more modern, efficient, integrated county-wide department is our holding on to the idea of townships. It is hard enough to get cities to work together, now you have the additional problem of a new municipality every 36 square miles. When you had to walk or ride a horse to do business with local government; townships made sense. Now, townships add a needless layer of local government. Just a little west of here, in states that don't have the township form of government, you are either in the city or in the county. Think of the savings we could realize if we didn't have to elect four to seven officials for every 36 square miles, if we didn't have to submit projects to several different planning departments, if we didn't have individual townships choosing whether or not to pay in to the Sheriff's Office, etc. Of course this will require a Constitutional Amendment at the state level; and will require a vote of the people as those who have managed to rise to the top of their little fiefdoms will not likely give up their power easily.

Fat Bill

Tue, Mar 19, 2013 : 12:28 a.m.

Many townships that surround Ann Arbor benefit tremendously by that proximity, yet they do not have the fiscal responsibilities that the City does. They choke off growth by the ability to prevent annexation...Ypsilanti city is a fine example.

Sam S Smith

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 5:27 p.m.

Think of the savings? Also, at the present I live in Ann Arbor and I don't like it when people refer to surrounding communities as "fiefdoms!" New flash to you and the mayor and his cronies: Ann Arbor is NOT the center of the universe nor is it a kingdom! And if you wonder why people are calling Ann Arbor "A3" ("Arrogant Ann Arbor") and not A2, it's because of the high horse you're on!


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 5:04 p.m.

Stop again speaking for Townships. This is a power grab from "financially on the brink Cities" to grab the well managed assets of Townships here in Washtenaw County and across Michigan. Here's a thought, Cities....learn how to manage your public dollars and stop trying to fleece revenue from our Townships. We want nothing to do with your present or future day financial issues.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 3:45 p.m.

And I suppose you would nominate Mr Hieftje for czar? "Just a little west of here, in states that don't have the township form of government, you are either in the city or in the county." I believe everyone in Ann Arbor is in the county!

G. Orwell

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 2:57 p.m.

What is with the rigged polls? 13 total votes and the poll is closed? Not a good choice to have a regional fire authority. Who would the regional fire authority be accountable to? I think it's nothing more than a power grab like the AA Transit Authority. Also, what is with the use of the word "authority."

E. Daniel Ayres

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 7 p.m.

Regional transportation planning and administration must be "professionalized" without the jurisdictional jockey for control issues that throw things off track. Think back to the politics funded by the automotive industry in this state to destroy both rail and trolley services rather than to allow them to compete honestly for customers.

martini man

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 2:38 p.m.

A minion of the Mayor ? Maybe ..and I would say it's a definite possibility that leans just a tad to the left. ( eye roll ) Lefty Hieftje has wasted Ann Arbor's resources and now wants to fund his fire dept with money from outlying areas. In the end other townships and cities would be funding this boondoggle. Spin as they might ... In the end it will probably lead to tax increases and worse, rather than better service,

Sam S Smith

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 2:37 p.m.

Another pipe dream of Hieftje gone up in smoke?

Sam S Smith

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 2:28 p.m.

Who wants to start a consulting firm with me? Just think of the studies we can do and how much we can charge Hiefte!


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 2:22 p.m.

Mr Ranzini are you a dues paying member of the fire local ? I would suggest you start reaching out to more than just those with personal agendas for your data. Common sense should tell you that there are always 2 sides to every story and I for one question some of your facts. Mr Barzoom last I heard safety comes in numbers and response times so your comment is very confusing A2comments thank God I dont live near you because if you really believe having 3 firefighters show up at your house when its burning is sufficient, then you are either uninformed or a huge risk taker. Lastly for those of you who feel your fire departments are superior to Ann Arbors you may want to take some time away from the computer go see how many firefighters are on duty each day in your areas and compare that number to Ann Arbors....


Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 2:12 p.m.

Sorry, that comment was for irritated not @ranzini. TOTALLY AGREE WITH IRRITATED


Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 2:11 p.m.

I TOTALLY agree with you

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 4:35 p.m.

@irritated: Which facts do you disagree with that I've asserted? I am always listening to many people in the community and gathering new facts all the time. In this case, I have sources inside the fire department and outside of it. If the facts change or I discover my opinions are wrong, I am willing to immediately and publicly change them. If anyone wants to discuss what you know privately with me and not publicly, you can email me at I appreciate the many tips and information I receive.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 1:58 p.m.

Anytime City a2 wants to form anything "regional," beware. It's just Hieftje speak for generating revenue for the city. And, City a2 does not care one iota about quality service provision for residents. They value pure greed-based revenue generation for promoting their folly agenda. And, an unfortunate perception here, is that now, when Hubbard speaks, it's really Hieftje. It seems Hubbard will say just about anything that his boss tells him. Who cares about the firefighters and their union? Who cares about safety response times? As far as Hieftje being a proponent of regionalism, it is only when a2 is controller and center of the "region." Airport expansion is a case in point. Who cares about the interests of Pittsfield residents? Definitely not City a2. Or, consider regional transit. City a2 was for it when it was the center of the region (universe). Now that the state has formed true regional transportation plans, city a2 is against it. Why? Because a2's 80% subsidy of AATA is at risk. Good to see that many out-of-city residents posting here are quick recognize the mayor's ruse and shell game.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 1:24 p.m.

Having observed the dysfunction of Ann Arbor politics, I can't imagine why any rational person would want to join anything in which Ann Arbor participates and could heavily influence. Pittsfield Township has excellent police & fire protection, far superior to Ann Arbor. Why would I risk that? Ann Arbor has made it's mess, let them clean it up or more likely wallow in it.


Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

Anyway, I think that annarboral is mostly referring to the political infrastructure and community support surrounding Pittsfield Township's police and fire. Pittsfield's political infrastructure and community support for their fire department IS far superior to Ann Arbor's. Pittsfield and Superior are in excellent shape. The beginning of the downfall for Ann Arbor Fire, as most of us know, goes way back to the city manager who maneuvered great financial gains for himself which inadvertently also benefited greatly those on the fire department - who were then vilified in the press and to the community. The Ann Arbor Firefighters have been put in a position of defensiveness ever since and it does not suit them well.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 8:23 p.m.

It was just a joke. I apologize if it was inappropriate. Pittsfield and all of the surrounding departments are all top notch.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 3:57 p.m.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. That's the Ann Arbor attitude that makes your "JV, freshmen, and kiddie league" brothers and sisters not want to support you when you have labor trouble. But go ahead, slam the "lesser departments", even though many of them get more working fires in a month than AAFD gets all year. Hope you don't speak for your whole department, City FF.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 2:44 p.m.

Whoa whoa whoa....lets not get carried away here. Far superior to Ann Arbor? AAFD is second to none. AAFD is basically the varsity team and the other depts are the JV and freshmen and kiddie leagues. Pittsfield is a good team but not the varsity.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.

"It would help to get someone in here who was an expert in that area and let them kind of guide you as to how to do it." Translation: If we can figure out a way to spend a million on an outside consultant the servants will have to go along with it.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 1:05 p.m.

I am not interested in solving Ann Arbor budget problems. Nor, am I interested in having Ann Arbor controlling the services to our community.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 5:24 p.m.

The Townships that contract for Services via the WCSO have a direct line to the Sheriff and Administrative Officials. Each Township has a voice in how services are allocated for their communities. In this misguided case, Ann Arbor (i.e. Big Brother who want to tap into the assets and strong revenue base maintained in most Townships) wrongfully believes Townships should be FORCED to adopt their "model" of "regional authority". No thank you as I and many other residents in Ypsilanti Township are quite pleased with our fire response. On a final note, Townships have their OWN elected Governmental Officials who could speak for the needs of their communities. Next time another article is opined by on this "issue" it might be right prudence to obtain quotes from these individuals. I'm sure they can speak well for their locality desires and wants, instead of Mayor of Ann Arbor or his Fire Department Chief. Thank you!

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 4:34 p.m.

it would be sort of like the Washtenaw County Sheriffs department which is not controlled by Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor, through taxes funds a good part of the Sheriff's department yet they certainly don't patrol the city.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 1:03 p.m.

Hubbard lives and works in his own bubble. Case in point... his plan to close stations. Council told him it's off the table yet he continues to push it. Now he says the unions need to get on board with the regionalization plan... Hey Chuck, how are the unions supposed to get on board when the area municipal leaders shoot this down? Unions have no say in this when you bring nothing to the table. Stop blaming others when you don't get your way.


Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 2:14 p.m.

re: @bornnraised. Sounds like you must know the Chief personally if you're calling him by his first name.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 12:34 p.m.

As a resident of Pittsfield TWP, I hope this never happens. I am all for fire departments helping each other when they can, but the needs of our township are different than those of Ann Arbor. My main cause for not liking this idea is I do not want our fire department drawn into all the political B.S. that goes on in Ann Arbor. Next thing you know the Mayor of Ann Arbor will be saying we have too many fire stations in the TWP. Or that since there is a Pittsfield station nearby, he can close another one in Ann Arbor. P.S. your poll is already closed at 8:30 on the 17th.

Basic Bob

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 2:25 a.m.

@Sam, The Ann Arbor firefighters endorsed Mayor Hieftje's opponent, Pat Lesko. Regime change failed.

Sam S Smith

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 8:03 p.m.

Basic Bob, do you think that Ann Arbor fire department union donated to Hiefjte?

Basic Bob

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 3:51 p.m.

There is a high level of politics involved with all of these fire departments and their unions. In fact the Pittsfield fire fighters participated in the last "regime change". A regional fire department can focus on better training and equipment for their members rather than buying local elections.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 12:50 p.m.

You are wise to think that far ahead. At least two things happen with regional systems. The regional system becomes insulated from the voters because no one township or city has absolute responsibility over the actions. That becomes a convenient excuse for each local government to finger-point when things go wrong. The second is that the cities with the most "clout" will start pushing for a system that favors them. Of course, this wouldn't happen in a world of honorable men and women. But, we are talking politicians here. More rural townships would do well to rethink this. Your property insurance premiums are set, in part, by the ranking given to local fire response. It's almost like a credit score for the fire department in your community. If it is low, you pay more, possibly substantially more. I'm not against regionalization, but it needs to be done in a manner that avoids having 600 lb gorillas, which is directly accountable to the voters, and which doesn't add unreasonable taxation or the means around tax millage restrictions in the law.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 12:18 p.m.

I find it highly ironic that Mayor Hieftje, who asserts that he is a Democrat, attacks the Ann Arbor Fire Fighter Union (please read my earlier comment), for stepping up to the plate and defending the citizens by forcing the city to provide safety services the politicians would otherwise not fund. His complaint is against spending that vastly improves safety for the lives and property of our citizens in the event of two fires occurring at the same time and the money spent protecting us during the 62 mutual aid responses per year at $1,000 to $1,500 per incident totals $62,000 to $93,000 a year! This from a mayor who did not use his veto or appointment authority to strike down any of the following wasteful projects: 1. 1% for Art, which resulted in the Huirinal being built in front of City Hall, $750,000; 2. Rog Mahal city hall addition, $50 million 3. Garage Mahal underground parking lot DDA boondoggle, $50 million


Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 3:32 a.m.

Mr Ranzini I to have connections insde the fire department and you should note that each of the 3 shifts have 24 firefighters on it, and if they all came to work there would be enough people to staff 8 trucks in the city instead of the normal 6. This in turn would allow for them to handle 2 fires at the same time. You should also note that when a call back of off duty firefighters goes out it takes upwards of an hour to get help because most of them live 30 or more minutes away thats why mutual aid is used so that they can get help immediately. Calling off duty firefighters back does not allow for them to handle 2 fires at once it only generates overtime.

Basic Bob

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 6:31 p.m.

Agreed, these are small numbers that the mayor shouldn't be quibbling about. This clause in the union contract forces a chief to make a financial decision out of a mutual aid request, instead of a safety decision. BTW, I know where S. Revena is, and so does my GPS. From memory, there was a structure fire south of Stadium a few years ago that even Ann Arbor firefighters could not find.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 4:46 p.m.

@Basic Bob: No where in this post do I assert that the extra safety factor brought by the union contract is required by the NFPA standard. In the first post I wrote earlier this morning, again, a careful reading also does not imply that I am asserting that, however I will be more careful in the future to note this isn't required by the national standard if the topic comes up again. Having said that, it is part of the fire and emergency medical service I want to have as an Ann Arbor resident and am happy to pay my share of the $62,000 to $93,000 in annual taxes required to make it so. If you have any doubts as to why, please read the excellent post by @racerx below!

Basic Bob

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 3:46 p.m.

Sorry, the NFPA standard does not consider two simultaneous structure fires as something we need to plan for.

Sam S Smith

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 12:14 p.m.

The other communities and their departments should decide for themselves. It appears they work together when necessary.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 11:59 a.m.

When I hear hizzoner speak of this, I get the distinct impression that he is looking for a way to off-load a part of the cost of fire protection in Ann Arbor to other taxpayers so that he can spend more on art, bike lanes and his beloved choo-choo trains.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 11:51 a.m.

As a resident of Superior Township, it is my fervent hope that we never join something like this. I am happy with our service, the cost, and have no desire to ruin it.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 11:48 a.m.

Not a good idea. This could compromise the safety of the residents and the fire fighters.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 11:10 a.m.

Mayor Hieftje attacks the fire fighter unions' contract by saying: "There are some labor contract barriers out there that need to be resolved," he said, pointing to a provision in the Ann Arbor firefighters contract, for example, that requires the city, if there's a box alarm request for mutual aid where other departments are called in at no extra cost to the city, the city also must call back its own firefighters from two shifts that are off duty to respond as well. "And we pay a minimum of four hours of overtime to anyone who is en route, and that typically runs $1,000 to $1,500 per occurrence and it could be more than that," Hieftje said. The purpose of the national standard for fire and emergency medical service response, NFPA 1710 Response Time Standard, is not just to ensure the lives of citizens and the property of citizens is protected but the safety of the fire fighters is ensured. What Mayor Hieftje fails to understand is that with the current inadequate level of staffing to meet the national standard in Ann Arbor, if there is a full alarm all the fire fighters on duty will respond to get 15 fire fighters to the scene of the fire within 8 minutes, as required by the national standard. With current staffing, depending on the shift, staffing is inadequate to respond to even a simple fire elsewhere, since for safety reasons, four fire fighters are required to enter a home on fire. Fire fighters must work in teams if safety of fire fighters is not to be compromised, and if they run into trouble, a team of two must be outside ready to enter in an emergency to get the first team in trouble out quickly. So kudos to our local Ann Arbor Fire Fighters Union, that they insist in their contact to protect themselves and the lives and property of our citizens in the event of a full alarm, that additional fire fighters are called into work. Because otherwise, in the event of a second fire a tragedy could occur!