Port Clinton Fire Department’s 1.9 mill levy best bargain in town

Oct 20, 2021 | Around Ottawa County, Featured | 0 comments

BY D’ARCY PATRICK EGAN

The Port Clinton Volunteer Fire Department is made up of more than 50 volunteers. Those men and women who have been campaigning to pass its 1.9 mill levy on Tuesday, Nov. 2 are a dedicated, tight-knit group that is always ready to go the extra mile.

“We’re family, and we all have a love for the other members of the Port Clinton Volunteer Fire Department (PCVFD)” said Chief Kent Johnson. “We work hard and we pay for the fire equipment without support from the General Fund.

“We are supported by our levy, the EMS contracts we have with Catawba Island Township and Bay and Portage townships, and various fundraisers. When it comes to needed equipment, we buy it and we own it.”

The five-year, 1.9 mill levy only covers about $270,000 of the annual budget of $980,000 for the all-volunteer fire fighters and EMT personnel, including five or six who do double duty as mechanics.

Chief Johnson, who has been a Port Clinton fireman since 1977 and at the helm as fire chief since 2006,

has the longest tenure ever as chief of the PCVFD. He is in charge of three fire engines, five ambulances, a utility vehicle, boat and an Argo, an all-terrain vehicle for pond and marsh rescues.

“Why do we need five ambulances?” he asked. “Because at times three or four, or even all of them are on the road to handle victims. Our newest fire truck is a 2012 model, and we keep it looking like new. Our oldest is a 1998 fire truck used for structure fires.”

Surprisingly, Johnson encourages folks to stop at the PCVFD to visit.

“I want them to see our equipment, to meet our firemen and EMS,” he said. “We might be interrupted by an EMS or fire call, but I want everyone to know what we do. When we have someone in the ambulance, I like for our people to talk to them and make them feel more comfortable, or play music for them on long runs.”

Costs have skyrocketed, thanks to an aging community, opioid overdoses and Covid-19. All victims have to be considered as “positive” for Covid-19, and that means far more masks, gloves and gowns, which the PCVFD has to buy.

Cutting edge technology, though, allows them to have Advance Life Support (ALS) equipment and Auto Pulse, a portable CPR machine. An EMT vehicle carries about a quarter of a million dollars in equipment the PCVFD has purchased.

“We’re totally independent as a fire department. When we receive donations or have a fundraiser, we re-invest every dime in the PCVFD,” said Johnson.

“Just the other day, we needed pagers that cost about $500 each. The PCVFD paid for them with fundraising dollars, and they’re now our property.”

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