“What we’ve seen in the last four months is the transformation of our department,” said Mario Fabrizio, firefighter with the Hamel Volunteer Fire Department. “We believe we can excel. We’ve done this without knowing what our future will be.”
Fabrizio was speaking to the Medina City Council at its regular meeting, Wednesday, Aug. 7. He went on to say, “We’ve done what we can do. We need clarity on moving forward. We need to know we still have a customer.”
Hamel Fire Chief Neil Wolfe echoed Fabrizio. “The guys have stepped up to the plate. They know what their expectations are. We’re coming together as a team. This is very rewarding to see.”
Back in April, the Hamel Fire Department had a cloud over its future. The city of Corcoran had decided not to renew its contract with the HFD. That left the department with just one customer, the city of Medina. Around that time, long-time Hamel Fire Chief Brandon Guest resigned his leadership position, and Wolfe stepped in as fire chief.
At that time, the City Council expressed concern about future fire protection for Medina residents and businesses and about slow progress towards a partnership/ merger between the Hamel Fire Department and the Loretto Fire Department. The LFD also serves Medina. The council set deadlines by which it wanted to see progress and asked the HFD to report back in August.
Aug. 7 was report time for the HFD. At the end of its report, the local fire department got good news from the Medina City Council. It directed city staff to work on a contract with the Hamel Volunteer Fire Department for fire protection.
“You’ve met the goals we sent you,” said Mayor Liz Weir. “Let’s go ahead and write the contract.” The document will come back to the City Council, and the goal is to have something in place by the end of the year.
Fabrizio and Wolfe reported that the HFD now has more fire fighters responding to calls. All of the HFD leadership is going through Blue Card training and certification, a process that will help the department coordinate with other departments on calls. The HFD has tightened up its standard operating procedures and improved its quarterly reports to the city. Also, Hamel Fire is doing more joint training with other fire departments, including Loretto and Plymouth.
Medina Public Safety Director Ed Belland said he had heard several very positive comments about Hamel Fire and no complaints. Its response time is consistent with surrounding fire departments. It takes time for firefighters to get to the fire station to respond to a call, put on their gear and get to a fire scene. “I find that phenomenal to do that in 10 minutes.”
Belland said something was more important to him than response time — fire department planning on how it will handle a situation.
He was impressed by Hamel Fire’s commitment to having all of its officers undergo Blue Card training and certification. This process costs $1,200 per fire fighter, and some fire departments say that they can’t afford it, he said. Many fire departments send only one or two officers through the Blue Card program.
The City Council also:
APPROVED the final plat for the Fields of Medina West second addition that contains 30 single family lots. The first and second additions are expected to contain a total of 64 single family lots. They are located north of Highway 55 and east of Arrowhead Drive.
DIRECTED STAFF to draft an approval resolution for the preliminary plat of the fifth addition of The Enclave at Medina, located on 4.45 acres on Hunter Drive north of The Enclave at Medina. The preliminary plat proposes nine single family homes for the Nolan property.
APPROVED an ordinance to rezone the Dennis Hedtke property at 3522 Sioux Drive from Uptown Hamel-2 to Commercial Highway-Railroad. Hedtke requested the rezoning to make the property eligible for a larger scale development than is permitted in uptown Hamel. He considers his property, located just south of Highway 55, as a potential site for a medical office building or similar building.
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