The Monroe Township Fire Department has purchased two noxious-gas monitors and is assured of completing its obligations under a 2007 federal grant that allowed the hiring of two full-time firefighters, thanks to voters' passage of a fire levy Nov. 2.

The Monroe Township Fire Department has purchased two noxious-gas monitors and is assured of completing its obligations under a 2007 federal grant that allowed the hiring of two full-time firefighters, thanks to voters' passage of a fire levy Nov. 2.

Chief Dudley Wright said the most significant immediate benefit of the levy is that the positions of two firefighter/paramedics hired in 2008 will be able to be maintained.

"Without the levy, in 2012 we would have been faced with maybe laying off these firefighters and paying back the grant funds (that allowed them to be hired)," Wright said. "But now we are going to be able to maintain that.

"The purpose was to bring our staff up to a level where our daily staffing was four firefighter/paramedics," he said. "The state of Ohio requires, if you are going to make entry into a burning building, you have to have "two in, two out," so by having four responders on scene we can go ahead and begin fighting the fire before a second piece of equipment arrives."

Wright said the numbers are important because it is common that the department will have two emergencies at one time.

"This year we had about 300 times where we had simultaneous emergency responses, two emergencies in progress at the same time," Wright said. "This allows us to better cover these simultaneous situations."

In recent years the department has made about 1900 responses annually.

The department had applied for its grant in 2007 and hired the additional staff in October 2008. The terms of the grant provided 90 percent of the salaries in the first year, declining to 0 percent in the fifth year, when the department was expected to sustain the expense within its budget.

"The knowledge that the levy passed has allowed us to be more secure in continuing the cycle of the grant program," Wright said. "If it had not passed we might have been in a situation where we might have had to return some of that money."

Under ideal circumstances, the department would be twice as large as it is, Wright said, but he said there is no current expectation that the department will reach that level any time soon.

"We are just kind of keeping our heads above water professionally in providing the resources the community needs for protection," Wright said. "Everyone knows we need to live within our budgets, the means the voters provide for us. In a perfect world we'd have eight full-time firefighters on duty at one time. But we just don't have the resources to do that."

The department has also spent approximately $5,000 to purchase two gas monitors that measure natural gas and propane, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide and, in a recent technological advance, hydrogen cyanide.

"We had one semi-functional gas monitor that was about nine years old, and we were spending $300 to $600 each year maintaining it," Wright said. "It just got to the point where we could not maintain it any longer.

"We had put off the purchase of that monitor and several other pieces of equipment because of budget, and for the last six months we had had to go out and borrow a monitor," he said. "Because the levy passed, we were able to go out and purchase two new monitors. Now both of our first-out fire trucks will have monitors."

Wright said the department has also been notified that it has received a 50 percent federal grant to purchase two 800 MHz radios that cost about $3,000 each.