Officials to discuss mutual aid agreement during council meeting

MANISTEE — Manistee City Council has a brief agenda planned for Tuesday, but one item is an ongoing discussion on the city’s mutual aid agreement with North Flight EMS.

Tim Kozal, Manistee Department of Public Safety director, wrote in a memo to council that the Manistee Fire Department has a need to analyze its availability to backfill its department, and consider the possibility of turning down mutual aid requests, if needed.

The City of Manistee entered a mutual aid agreement with North Flight on Jan. 1. The agreement is slated to end Jan. 12, 2020. Pursuant to that agreement each party has been lending EMS services on a reciprocal basis.

Kozal said, since Dec. 17, 2018, Manistee EMS has responded to calls in Manistee County 43 times; North Flight has assisted Manistee EMS 17 times.

“When Manistee EMS is dispatched to a mutual aid response, depending on distance of the response, we will drop an all hands page to backfill the fire department,” he said. “This is at a cost of four hours of overtime per firefighter that is able to respond in. Manistee Fire Department has only turned down two mutual aid requests and these were for transfers from Munson to another facility.”

However, Kozal said the Manistee Fire Department is committed to being available 24 hours a day to provide emergency medical services and fire suppression. In a recent event, the fire department was not covered due to a higher rate of calls during the holiday.

“This commitment and our commitment to mutual aid has been stretched. North Flight will routinely have only one ambulance available in the county,” Kozal said. “Once they are on an ALS call, we are next up. This past July 5 North Flight sent one of their ambulances on a non-emergent transfer late in the evening leaving one ALS ambulance. This ambulance then was sent on a call.

“We were then toned out for an ALS call in Bear Lake at 11:36 p.m. The city was not covered.”

In recent conversations, Kozal said they have been in contact with North Flight about the issue, and the next step is to bring it to city council.

“We need to have this mutual aide agreement to assist us when we are on an ALS call or a fire,” he said. “We are at a point that we need to start analyzing our availability to backfill and possibly turning down mutual aid requests. We have met with North Flight in the past on our concerns. We are continuing to have healthy conversations.”

On Tuesday, council could either take action or not take action on this discussion item.

Another agenda item up for a vote is an agreement with the American Legion Post 10 to provide insurance coverage for the recently placed Civil War Cannon at Veterans Memorial Park. The cannon is valued at $90,000.

“Staff checked with our insurance provider, Meadowbrook Insurance, on how the city might be able to provide the requested insurance coverage. Meadowbrook suggested that the city and the American Legion enter into an agreement that authorizes the placement of the cannon at Veterans Memorial Park,” stated Thad Taylor, city manager, in a memo.

If such an agreement were signed by both parties, Taylor said it would cost the city around $100 annually for insurance coverage.

Also on Tuesday, Ed Bradford will give a report on the activities of the finance director, Oil and Gas Board and Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. A work session is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Aug. 13 at City Hall in the council chambers.

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Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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