CADILLAC — Three Wexford County fire departments are taking the notion of working smarter, not harder, to heart.
For the past several weeks, Selma Township Fire Department, Haring Township Fire Department and Cherry Grove Township Fire Department have been in talks about how the three agencies could work together to not only utilize manpower to its fullest but equipment and tax dollars as well. That, however, does not mean the three are looking at merging into one entity.
What it does mean is they are looking at providing mutual aid when it comes to fighting fires and using equipment.
Selma Township Fire Department Chief Tony Fleischfresser said the three departments are only in the process of formulating a mutual aid agreement and are not in discussions for a merger. That agreement also will include training as well as seeking input when another agency plans to purchase equipment.
"When we buy a truck, we want to buy a truck that ... helps our township but also can help the other two townships," Fleischfresser said. "We also are going to train together. We share the cost and get more out of it. We are trying to work smarter and not harder."
Haring Township Fire Chief Duane Alworden said his department has had a mutual aid agreement in place with Cherry Grove Township for a while now, and he said the whole point of the agreement is to utilize both department's manpower and equipment better and more efficiently.
While that might mean sharing items such as turnout gear or different vehicles such as a ladder truck, Alworden echoed Fleischfresser's sentiments that this was not a merger of the departments and each one would remain its own entity.
"As the Haring Township Fire Chief, I'm telling you a merger is not on the table — end of story," he said. "It is utilizing our resources the best way we can."
For Cherry Grove Township Fire Cheif Randy Miles, the idea of working together and limiting duplication is something he has been preaching for years. To him, it just makes sense when each department is trying to save money and utilize the money they do have to the fullest.
"We are just trying to save money — stuff is not getting cheaper, Miles said.