Plain Township trustees know the township fire department some day will need a second station.

Plain Township trustees know the township fire department some day will need a second station.

They just are not sure where it needs to be located.

During the Oct. 20 trustees meeting, consultants from MSA Architects, the firm updating the fire department's master plan, suggested securing land for a station in the southern portion of the department's coverage area.

Rick Tripp of MSA said the area, which includes 20 square miles in Plain Township and New Albany, has longer response times of up to six minutes.

The reason is Plain Township provides "mutual aid" on emergency medical service (EMS) runs to Columbus and Mifflin Township, which is south of Plain Township. Several central Ohio fire departments have mutual-aid agreements that allow a fire engine or an EMS unit to assist or be the first-responder in a neighboring jurisdiction if the neighboring department's units are busy at another location.

Fire Chief John Hoovler said no actual legal documents are in place for mutual aid but the trustees agreed to participate in the agreement years ago.

Tripp said Mifflin Township currently does not have an EMS unit at its northernmost station, which is why Plain Township often responds in that area.

Similarly, Plain Township often responds with mutual aid to Columbus in the area of Hamilton Road, which is northwest of its coverage area.

"If Mifflin and Columbus get more in the game, I think that would greatly, greatly help your situation," Tripp said.

He suggested working with Mifflin to acquire an EMS unit and with Columbus to get an update on the city's plan to build a fire station on Harlem Road, north of state Route 161.

Hoovler said he is not sure when another Columbus station would be built and he said he already has talked to Mifflin fire officials about helping to staff an EMS vehicle at their station. He said the Mifflin fire station has room for an EMS vehicle.

Hoovler also reminded trustees that the township receives its share of mutual aid from both departments. He said a Columbus ladder truck was in Plain Township on Oct. 20 because the township ladder truck was out of service for repairs. Columbus also provides bomb squads and hazardous-material services, and Mifflin Township provides much needed mutual aid, as well, he said.

The trustees seemed more concerned with what would happen when new companies build in business park east and the personal care and beauty campus in the Licking County portion of New Albany. The land is north of state Route 161 and east of Beech Road. At least five companies are building on that site in the next two years.

Tripp said large manufacturing facilities, warehouses and office complexes have good fire suppression systems, so the majority of runs to the business park would be for emergency-medical services.

Hoovler said that area is supposed to be serviced by the Monroe Township Fire Department, through an agreement with the Jersey Township trustees. The land is in Jersey Township and Jersey Township does not have a fire department.

Trustee Dave Ferguson said it makes sense for Plain Township to serve that area since it is closer than Monroe Township. But that would require Jersey Township to change its agreement for fire service and may require the township to look at building a station to the east instead of south.

"That's an area where we lack responsibility," Hoovler said of business park east. "And that's where the bulk of our population is, in the south (in our coverage area)."

Trustee Dave Olmstead said the township needs "more information to make an informed decision" on where another station could be located.

Trustees requested MSA provide more information at a future meeting. Tripp also agreed to change some items in the master plan draft that was presented to the trustees before the meeting.

The fire department began working to update the five-year master plan last year. The plan, originally created in 2000 by consultant Tom Grile, included provisions for hiring personnel and making equipment purchases over a five- to 10-year period.

Trustees on June 14 agreed to spend up to $15,000 to hire MSA to complete the update.