CANAL FULTON, Ohio (WOIO) - Canal Fulton firefighters say they are understaffed and underpaid, sometimes being forced to run medical calls without a paramedic on duty.
“Everything’s tumbled like, nothings handled, nothings ever done and everywhere else in the city is protected by the Union, they have unions,” said one firefighter who wanted to remain anonymous. “The fire department is the only one that does not have a union.”
That firefighter told 19 News the situation has been growing worse and worse at Canal Fulton Fire Department.
“They are on the lower end for pay scale, so it’s hard to get guys to come in and work, but the guys that they do have working, it’s a revolving door, new people every couple months,” he explained.
He says they are often forced to run calls without paramedics. He says EMTs are not able to provide critical lifesaving care.
“As an EMT, you can only do so much, and it doesn’t matter if you know how to do it; it’s based on your license, so even if you attempt to do something, you could lose your license.”
Currently, Canal Fulton only has a part time fire department and depends largely on mutual aid from neighboring communities to handle their calls, specifically Lawrence Township and North Lawrence Volunteer Fire Department.
“People will not sign up for them, and they’ll get paged out, and because it’s a Canal Fulton shift, people do not wanna work there,” the firefighter said. “People do not wanna work for the city.”
He blames the city’s management.
“It’s the way that it is ran,” he said. “The mayor he wants it his way or no way, and the chief you can tell the chief something and it just goes on deaf ears.”
Recently, North Lawrence Volunteer Fire Department ended their mutual aid agreement with Lawrence Township and Canal Fulton. Canal Fulton Mayor Joe Schultz says they plan on meeting with North Lawrence next week to discuss rebuilding that relationship.
“I feel so badly because people don’t like change,” said Canal Fulton Mayor Joe Schultz. “No one wants to see a fire station close down in their community, and it’s devastating but you know Lawrence Township approached us in the fall about renting a station that we no longer use, and that’s what we’ve implemented open up this west side fire station and still provide service to the residents in the southern end of Lawrence Township.”
The mayor says since they pay their firefighters and paramedics on a part-time basis, they are paid less than what they would at a full-time department.
“If someone had an opportunity to work for another full-time department and get paid overtime pay, I don’t begrudge them at all for being willing to go and make more money, but it just puts a burden on us, it really does,” explained Mayor Schultz.
Mayor Schultz admitted that sometimes that means they do not have paramedics on duty.
“At the end of the day, it’s in God’s hands,” said Schultz. “People don’t like to hear that. My mother-in-law is a resident at chapel hill nursing home, which is in my community, and she’s 94 years old and for anyone to think that I don’t care about providing service to our community, it just isn’t accurate. We’re doing everything we can.”