Sterling, Clinton to allow FD truck borrowing

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published January 27, 2016

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Sterling Heights and Clinton Township recently agreed to borrow each other’s fire vehicles in times of emergency.

At a Jan. 19 meeting, the Sterling Heights City Council unanimously voted to adopt an interlocal agreement for reciprocal lending of municipal fire apparatus.

During the meeting, Fire Chief Chris Martin said the agreement will allow the sharing of fire apparatus in an emergency situation. Martin called the plan a no-brainer, adding that the SHFD could potentially face a vehicle shortage situation, and he wants to be prepared.

“The agreement covers us in every way, shape and form,” Martin said. “If they borrow one of our apparatus or we borrow one of their apparatus and something happens, the city who is operating the vehicle has all the liability. ... It’s foolproof, basically, for both ends.”

According to the city, Sterling Heights and Clinton Township fire stations are normally equipped with a ready fire engine. In addition, Sterling Heights has three fire apparatus in reserve, but the city says it’s not unusual for multiple fire trucks to be out of commission at a time for repairs or maintenance.

Martin said Clinton Township’s fire chief called him in October about the possibility of an agreement. Martin said he would support it so long as the agreement was reciprocal.

According to a city memo, Sterling Heights had legal and insurance experts look into the deal. The deal lets a community deny the use of a vehicle if it would otherwise put its own fire department’s performance at risk.

Martin said this plan is different from Sterling Heights’ existing mutual aid partnership with Clinton Township, which involves sending manpower that may operate a vehicle.

He also said this interlocal agreement has nothing to do with anticipated findings of a feasibility study that is supposed to explain the effects of potential regional service sharing with neighboring fire departments.

“This isn’t even brought up in the consolidation study,” Martin said.

Martin said the deal will involve no exchange of money, and even fuel usage will be compensated. He said the city that owns the vehicle has the first right to it.

Some City Council members, like Maria Schmidt, spoke favorably about the proposal and noted that Clinton Township expects to receive five new fire engines in March.

“This probably benefits us more than them because we have the older equipment,” she said.

Mayor Michael Taylor said he is happy to see the collaboration.

“I think that the agreement is pretty airtight from the way I read it,” he said. “We’re not going to take any of our frontline engines out of our departments and loan them to Clinton Township. It would only be backups, and we have that ability to get them back on a moment’s notice, if needed.”

According to Martin, Clinton Township’s Board of Trustees already approved the plan prior to Sterling Heights’ approval.

Learn more about Sterling Heights by visiting www.sterling-heights.net or by calling (586) 446-2489. To reach the Sterling Heights Fire Department, call (586) 446-2950.

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