Firefighting way: Association seeks residents for Wapak contract

Homeowners in three townships can join an association which enlists the help of the Wapakoneta Fire Department as a responder to the area.

Pusheta-Washington Townships Mutual Fire Protective Association board members started a recruitment drive to enlist more members into the organization.

“We have around 100 units and have room for 20 or so more,” board secretary Barbara Frische told the Wapakoneta Daily News. “A unit is an address regardless of how many buildings are on that property. We have lost a few members and would like to have more members.”

She said neighbors have talked to some of the neighbors about the benefits of the association, but the face-to-face method is slow.

Wapakoneta Fire Chief Kendall Krites explained the city contracts with the association to provide fire protection to properties in a part of Moulton, Pusheta and Washington townships. The current two-year contract started its second year of coverage on Jan. 1.

“We have been covering the area and this contract has existed for the 30 years I have been with the Wapakoneta Fire Department,” Krites said. “We will generally respond to three to five responses in that area each year.”

Krites pointed out the contract “does not make us their primary responder” which would remain the fire department servicing the area. Buckland Fire Department responds to Moulton Township, New Knoxville Fire Department responds to Washington Township and Botkins and St. Johns respond to area in Pusheta Township.

“People need to understand the contract between the city and the association,” Krites said. “This does not make us their primary responder, this makes us an additional responder. This makes us an automatic aide for their primary fire department to the area.

“We could be the first arriving, but we should not be the only arriving fire department,” he said.

Krites also said people in the association must understand the Wapakoneta Fire Department’s primary responsibility is to Wapakoneta city residents.

“Our primary responsibility is to the city taxpayers — that is who put us here and who keeps us here,” Krites said noting the contract stipulates one vehicle and three firefighters could respond. “If we are working on something in the city limits or we are tied up with an incident in the city, we are not bound by this contract, but otherwise we are going to respond and honor this contract the best we can.”

“The whole purpose of this is to get somebody there as early as possible to limit property damage and loss of life,” he said.

Frische explained members can report a fire as normal by dialing 911 and giving their five-degit address. Dispatchers will immediately dispatch the Wapakoneta Fire Department and then dispatch the assigned volunteer fire department. Depending on the location of the property, Botkins, New Knoxville, Buckland or St. Johns fire departments may be the properties primary responder.

The Wapakoneta Fire Department, which is manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is not the primary responder, but the department could be the first department on scene because it is manned all the time.

Frische said another factor is a member’s property could be located closer to Wapakoneta than the volunteer fire departments.