Fire district’s fate is in hands of voters

SHADYSIDE On Nov. 6, the Shadyside Fire Department will be eagerly waiting to see if the Ohio River & Western Fire District for Shadyside and Mead Township will be passed or voted down.

The OR&W Fire Board, which voted to move forward on pushing on with the levy. The task of creating a fire district to serve both Mead Township and Shadyside, which the Shadyside Fire Department currently does now.

“A fire district is basically taking two different entities such as Mead Township and Shadyside back towards the latter part of last year. They signed an agreement to form the district and those two entities came together to start the new fire district,” states Chief David Lenz.

The positives of having a fire district is that instead of having an all-volunteer staff and has been that way for the last 80 years. But as a department, they are running to problems of answering calls during the day because many of the volunteer fire fighters and EMTs are working part-time jobs.

The Shadyside Fire Department answers up to 800 a year and nearly 150 of those go unanswered with the lack of people available during the daytime hours.

“We are up around 800 calls a year, which is a lot of calls for one volunteer department to be able to answer,” said Lenz at the Sept. 16 meeting. “Obviously, it is very difficult for us to keep up with the calls with the number of volunteers that we have, especially during the daytime hours.”

With the passing of the OR&W Fire District, these calls can be answered. Those who are already volunteers will be given first offers.

Lenz said that they will look to hire 14 part-time members, Monday through Sunday.

The OR&W will operate on a 4-mil levy, which will replace the current 2-mil levy that is already in place. Residents of Shadyside will see an increase of about $61 and if the resident is age 65 or older and is on the Homestead Act can expect an increase of $30.63.

Currently, the department is at its lowest number of members in its 80 years, since its reorganization in 1932, after its creation in 1912.

“We want to provide the best possible service we can … It’s all about taking care of the people,” said Lenz. “That is a lot of calls to miss. It really hits home when you have these calls during the day and you just don’t have the personnel … We want to be able to answer our own calls, we want to be able to respond to those calls when people need us. We are dealing with lives and property here. The minutes and seconds are huge. For us to have a crew here when that tone goes down to get in that squad and get out that door in less then a minute, is just huge. Really, it’s priceless.”

Van Dyne may be reached at