Superior, Ypsilanti township firefighters partner to cut down road work response delays
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
Ypsilanti Township and Superior Township’s fire departments will partner for the first time in an effort to shorten response delays during summer road construction.
The Ypsilanti Township Fire Department faces the most serious obstacle with the closure of the Ford Boulevard bridge over East Michigan Avenue. That will cut the township’s main fire station off from its most direct route to the north third of the township for around three months.
The department sits just south of the bridge and responders will be forced to travel south on Ford Boulevard to Ecorse Road. Trucks can then travel west on Ecorse to Michigan Avenue, which will provide several routes into different parts of north Ypsilanti Township.
The 180-foot-long, 70-year-old Ford Boulevard bridge that spans East Michigan Avenue is deteriorating and in need of a total rebuild. Construction is expected to start in April.
Ypsilanti Township fire Chief Eric Copeland said his department has performed test runs and found that the bridge closure will add two to three minutes onto each response time.
But in the case of a structure fire, the two townships, with respective board approval, have have entered into a temporary automatic aid agreement. Whenever there is a fire in the northern part of the township, Superior Township’s trucks will automatically be deployed.
The north part of Ypsilanti Township is the department's busiest, but part of that is due to the number of medical calls at large senior facilities there. A Huron Valley Ambulance will be stationed north of the bridge during the construction.
“This will enhance and shorten response times,” Copeland said.
In typical mutual aid arrangements among neighboring fire departments, help from a different jurisdiction isn’t sent until it is requested when the home department arrives at a fire.
Superior Township has one station on MacArthur Boulevard near the border with Ypsilanti Township. Its main station is five miles north at the intersection of Prospect and Ford roads.
One firefighter mans the MacArthur station, though the southern region of the township is where the department responds to most of its calls. Ypsilanti Township trucks will automatically respond to calls in that region.
“What I think is the catalyst for the agreement is that we have a need. They have a need along MacArthur Boulevard with having responding to a lot of calls there, so it’s a win-win,” Copeland said.
Additionally, bridge construction on Ridge Road will slow Superior Township from responding to calls south of the bridge, to which Ypsilanti Township also will respond.
This is the first time the two departments have worked together, which Copeland said is due in part to past fire politics, but he is encouraged by the temporary partnership.
The two departments have similar trucks. Ypsilanti Township responds to just under 4,000 calls annually while Superior Township responds to around 1,000 calls.