Columbus Township to keep 4 full-time firefighters

Columbus Township will keep four of its full-time firefighters, but see the hours reduced for two others to part-time and a clerk’s pay knocked down to $18,000 a year.

That’s under a budget approved last night by the township’s advisory board.

Trustee Ben Jackson and the township fire chief Dave Thompson argued that the cuts endangered public safety.

Thompson said that the cuts would probably not affect response times, but firefighters would not longer have enough crew to enter a burning building without waiting for volunteer firefighters to arrive. He said that with today’s construction materials, structures burn faster than ever before, meaning a few minutes makes the difference.


Board President Mike Shireman said he stood by his compromise proposal. Previously the majority of the board had wanted to reduce all six firefighters to part-time positions. .


Jackson estimated that the change would save about $21,000 a year in salaries and benefits from the firefighting fund, depending on which two firefighters were let go.

Audience members asked to address the board but board members declined. Board member Jimmy Green said they had already heard public opinion two weeks ago. Many members of the audience, largely made up of volunteer firefighters from across the county and their supporters, were upset with the board’s decision.

Tami Watson, a retired state trooper and township resident had organized a petition to the state, formally protesting the original budget that would have converted all of the full-time firefighters to part-time.


Watson said she had supported the election of Green and Board President Mike Shireman, but said she no longer supported them after this decision.

Green and Shireman also proposed reducing a clerk’s pay by half, down to $12,000. Specifically, Green asked if the position was the one filled part-time by Columbus firefighter Allen Smith.

Jackson listed all of the clerk’s responsibilities during the existing 20-hour work week and said he would be hard-pressed to find someone willing to do the work for what would amount to just over $11 an hour. In compromise, Shireman and board member Dustin Renner agreed to reduce the pay only to $18,000 a year.