BARODA — The Baroda Village Council on Monday voted to support the concept of public works employees becoming firefighters, but was hesitant to make that a requirement.
“Everyone is experiencing a manpower shortage,” Doug deBest, deputy fire chief of the Baroda Township Fire Department, told the council. However, the department’s problems go beyond that, he added.
Many members of the fire department live in the village or township, but work outside the township, deBest said. So during the day, there aren’t many of the volunteer firefighters available, he continued.
“Today there were three responders in the village to react to a fire,” deBest said.
“I’d sure like to have more than three people at my house if there was a fire,” village Trustee Steve Jasper said.
deBest said he found five Michigan municipalities, including Mason, Ada and Wyoming, that do want their public works employees to be firefighters.
“It’s a good idea, but I don’t know if we can force our guys to do that,” council President Bob Getz said.
The village has only two public works employees, and Trustee Leonard Krone said they could be tied up on other emergencies.
deBest said becoming a certified firefighter takes several months of one-day-a-week training. But those who don’t want to be firefighters could become auxiliary members of the department, helping with fire hydrants and traffic control, and that only takes a few hours of training, he added.
Clerk Tina Martin asked deBest to send her breakdowns of the training required for both positions.
Also Monday, the council voted unanimously to award a $2,950 contract to Trace Analytics to sample the village’s sewer system for organic compounds.
Steve Carlisle of Wightman, the village’s engineer, said the company will take samples at 10 different locations to try to spot where the contamination is coming from. The source could be anything from someone putting something improper into a garbage disposal to something from a commercial operation, he said.
The results probably won’t be available for two or three months, Carlisle said.
In other matters, the council OK’d adopting a pavement warranty program, as required by the state of Michigan.
Carlisle said the warranty won’t take effect for any project under $2 million, and it’s highly unlikely that will ever affect the village.
The council agreed to release $80,254 from its U.S. Department of Agriculture loan to pay for work to date on the Industrial Park.
The money will mostly go for costs for engineering, legal work and other items, Martin said. Officials said the project, which includes putting in roads, sewer and water, is going well.
In addition, the council in a split vote approved putting a vinyl pergola into the village park.
Krone said he was unwilling to approve the project without knowing more about the strength of the vinyl, and whether the structure is of “residential or commercial” quality. He and Trustee Mike Price voted no, and all the other council members present voted yes.
Getz after the meeting said the $14,000 project is being paid for by donations of money or work.
The council got a preview of its audit for the fiscal year that ended March 31.
Aaron Stevens of Maner Costerisan in Lansing said his firm was able to issue an “unmodified opinion, which is the highest level of assurance we can provide.” The village’s fiscal health is excellent, he said.
Getz said the council will vote on the audit at its meeting in October.