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Seth Eggenschwiller, a theatre student at Ohio University, speaks out against the poor conditions of Kantner Hall at the Student Senate meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 5 2019. (FILE)

Student Senate: Athens Fire Department Chief presented ideas about how to increase revenue

Athens Fire Chief Robert Rymer presented to Student Senate Wednesday about the work of the Athens Fire Department and how it plans to increase its revenue.

AFD is the only fire department in Athens, protecting both the city and the university. There are two fire stations, including the headquarters located on Columbus Road.

The department has a total staff of 24: 22 firefighters, one fire chief and one secretary.  The size of the staff has not changed since the 1970s, Rymer said.

The Athens Fire Department currently gets its revenue from income taxes, property taxes, the local government fund and the OU Impact Fund. Rymer proposed some ideas for increasing the department’s funding by increasing the property and income tax, as well as institute a student fee of $50 a semester.  

In return, the Athens Fire Department would be able to increase staffing. The response times would also be quicker, meaning a lower possibility of property loss to Athens citizens, Rymer said.

Rymer said the first unit to arrive to the scene of a fire gets there in about four minutes.  The full unit is there in about eight minutes.

The department would also use the money to provide fire safety education for all freshmen. A class could include lessons on how to properly use a fire extinguisher, cooking safety and fires, safe nightlife tips and tips on escaping a fire.  

The fire department makes roughly 1,100 runs a year. Of those runs, 41% were to Ohio University buildings, Rymer said.

Most fires are a result of cooking fires and people not knowing how to put them out. About 54% of fires in Athens were the result of cooking, compared to the national average of 41%, Rymer said.

The meeting concluded with a number of resolutions being passed, including the approval of funding for Movies that Matter, purchasing food for international affairs social hour and purchasing supplies for the women’s affairs table, among others.


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