Vehicles part of chief package

Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – A stipulation allowing Fire Chief Doug LaFond and Deputy Chief David Servetter to take city-owned fire vehicles home will be added to their appointment packages, despite council debate.

City Administrator John Zech proposed the stipulation to the package, which will be voted on at Tuesday’s council meeting, at a special meeting Tuesday as a way to reduce response times for the chief and deputy chief, who are on-call to respond to fires at all times. The motion to add it to the package passed 4-3.

“You want your fire chief and your deputy chief to be in a position to, upon being called, go straight to the scene,” Zech said, “not to have to bypass the scene, go to the office, get their vehicle with their turnout gear, and go back to the scene. Firefighting is a matter of time.”

He said the practice is commonplace in many municipalities with smaller fire departments who depend on the fire chief and deputy chief to respond to calls at all hours.

LaFond said he responds to six to 10 calls a month from home, and has to drive his personal vehicle to the station before responding to each call.

“I live 0.7 miles from the fire station,” LaFond said. “I will pay for the gas.”

But some councilors disagreed, citing the added fuel cost to a department which already has been whittled from 28 to 23 members due to budget cuts after the entire department was issued layoff notices – which were later rescinded – in February.

LaFond lives in Lincoln Park and Servetter is a resident, but council members expressed concerns that either could move further away, increasing the fuel cost.

Zech said that in those cases many cities pay the mileage for the first 20 miles an employe drives the vehicle home. The driver is responsible for the remaining mileage.