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Posted: 12/18/13

Bruce to end ALS
contract with Almont

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      Bruce officials believe revenue from a contract with Almont Township isn't enough to justify ambulance runs to its northern neighbors.
       The Bruce Township Board of Trustees voted 5-0 at its Dec. 11 meeting to let Almont Township know it wishes to end an Advanced Life Support (ALS) contract.
       On Feb. 28, 2012, the townships entered a two-year agreement that the Bruce-Romeo Fire Department would provide ALS services to all properties in Almont south of Tubsprings Road. Almont pays $7,960 a year and Bruce collects insurance from patient transport.
       An ambulance and crew leaves from Bruce-Romeo Fire Station 2 on Van Dyke to respond. The department has handled 343 calls in Almont since the agreement began.
       Bruce-Romeo Fire Chief Ken Staelgraeve said the payment and revenue has covered most personnel costs, but doesn't cover maintenance of equipment and apparatus.
       "We can't necessarily put a specific number on it, but nonetheless we're using that equipment in the context of this contract some 343 times since it started," he said.
       He said the agreement also affects operational levels in Bruce since it removes personnel and resources from the township.
       "My concern is I don't think that is acceptable," he said. "While the service is important and I understand that, it's also important to our residents."
       The agreement requires notification of at least 60 days prior to Feb. 28, 2014 to end the contract. Staelgraeve said he was open to renegotiation of the contract instead of simply terminating it.
       "I hope they don't think that we're abandoning them, that is not the intent," he said. "We'll provide service to anyone who needs it, but we need to do that in a way that is best for our community as well."
       He declined to give a specific dollar amount of what Bruce Township would request in negotiations, but said there could be a per-call charge to help cover transport costs.
       Supervisor Richard Cory commended the department for providing Almont with excellent services.
       "I hate to see it end, but I know it has to because of the financial side of it," he said.
       Staelgraeve said the termination may be a moot point since Lapeer County EMS may start providing ALS services to the area as early as this month. He said double coverage wouldn't occur since dispatch would contact Lapeer before Bruce.
       Grants and hires
       Staelgraeve said the department has applied to receive federal grant dollars to purchase a new tanker.
       The Federal Emergency Management Agency has provided funding through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program since 2001. Staelgraeve said the department is applying for $40,000 to replace its 1976 tanker with a 2,500 gallon tanker.
       The department received grants in 2009 from the program to purchase breathing apparatus. However, in 2010 and 2011 it didn't receive funds in trying to replace the 1976 tanker.
       "Vehicle grants are the most difficult to gain," Staelgraeve said. "It is a need that we have and I felt it was the way to go with that grant."
       The grant requires a 10 percent match if received, which he said is in the budget. He said the first group of grant awardees will be announced in March.
       At the same meeting, the board unanimously approved of hiring Steve Nakis as a firefighter/paramedic in a "float" position. The position works day-shifts and 24-hour shifts to meet minimum staffing requirements, reduce overtime and give time for inspectors to complete fire safety inspections.


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