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New response strategy allows City to do more with less

Photo Credit: Adam Herman

PHOTO: Dan Kinzler (Left), and Marvin Willock are two of Canton's newest fire recruits
By Chief John Whitlatch
Released/Published: Jun 15, 2009

With the economy in its current state, no business is safe from losing profit – and that includes your local Fire Department.  For this reason, we have made a number of changes in how firefighter/paramedics at several stations will respond to emergencies.  These changes will allow us to continue protecting the life and property of the community we serve from the adverse effects of fires, sudden medical emergencies, or exposure to man made or natural disasters without hitting taxpayers in the wallet.

The solution that has been implemented to respond to the Department’s changing financial situation is the use of a model known as a "combo company." Just what is a combo company? It is a station house that can have its staff ready at a moment's notice for both fire and ambulance runs.  Previously, only a select few firehouses responded to both fire and ambulance calls.  This prevented the Canton Fire Department from reaching every ambulance call, and many times neighboring departments (through mutual aid agreements) would take the call because they were closer and more able to respond.  This resulted in lower revenue from the lost ambulance run.

Under the new system, the nature of each call that comes into participating stations will determine which vehicles are used.  This gives us greater flexibility at each station and allows us to collect revenue from those calls that were previously unreachable. The men and women staffing these stations have added to their daily responsibilities in order to ensure that both vehicles are always ready, and must now quickly gather their gear and respond accordingly.  Also, by switching to combo companies the Department will also be able to better manage its use of manpower – which will reduce overtime costs.  When combined, the reduction of overtime and increase in ambulance revenue will allow the Department to continue providing top-notch service to Canton residents while preventing painful budget cuts.

This solution utilizes all of the training of its members to respond to the needs of the community and continue to protect and serve the city of Canton and its residents in a safe, efficient, and cost-effective manner.

If you have questions about combo companies, please call the Canton Fire Department at (330) 489-3411 to learn more.

Contact Information: (330)489-3411

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