Fire Department Copes With Pandemic Challenges

At a recent City of Vermilion Health & Safety Committee meeting, Fire Cheif Chris Stempowski said the Fire Department is continuing to daily monitor all the information received from the CDC, the Health Departments, the Governor, and the Mayor for direction and guidance on how they operate day to day.

“It’s challenging because of our job, so we do the best we can,” said Chief Stempowski. “Social distancing for firefighters can be a little bit challenging, but when we see them out and about on training, I want to remind everyone that we still need to train and keep our equipment operational and ready to go at a moment's notice. We are following this guidance as best we can to protect the personnel and their families, yet we still have a job to do, so the daily updates are sent from me to the officers and on down through the ranks every single day.”

The Department is continuing their training in small groups. They did stop for a while and did do weekly maintenance equipment checks and set up online training for personnel.

“This is still ongoing, but we are back into small groups for the hands-on training aspect of things,” said the chief.

He reported that in the month of May the fire department responded to 24 incidents for a total of 82 responses through the end of May 31. He said they sent pickups out to have the chargers installed, which has been completed and they’re both back in service. The same charger that went out on Engine #96 did arrive last week, so they’re in the process of installing it and this will resolve any issues with this engine. He said he recently spoke with the finance director as they have a couple small maintenance concerns with their trucks, and noted they are not out of service, but they will have some maintenance done sooner than anticipated.  

He said they had a request from a local business for occupancy load restrictions post COVID, and he made it clear that anybody who needs assistance can certainly call the Fire Department or the Fire Marshall and he will help. He asked the Fire Marshall to coordinate with the Building Department and the Building Inspector so they can work together with resolving any issues that any of the business owners may have. In the meantime, if any assistance is needed with this, there are sections of the Fire Code where they can assist with those occupancy loads.

“Fire Marshall Rodney Johnston can be reached on his city cell number at 440-653-0385, or can be emailed at,” said the chief. “Again, if there is any breakdown in this, they can call my office and I will make sure the Fire Marshall gets the information that is being requested.”

On behalf of the entire Vermilion Fire Department, he wanted to congratulate all the graduating seniors. He knows it has been tough on them and things have not gone the way they’re supposed to as this is a special time in their life, so he wanted to extend the Department’s appreciation for them going through this and staying strong. He said it’s a tough time, but he wanted to congratulate them; both the Vermilion High School and the Firelands High School, which are both in the district.