Ohio Chief: It's Important to Think Outside the Box

BALTIMORE, Md. -- Instead of sitting back and whining about how the tough economy is hurting your fire department, chiefs need to get creative.

Coverage of Firehouse Expo 2012

That's what Loveland-Symmes Fire Chief Otto Huber told firefighters on Friday at Firehouse Expo.

Huber said while city officials are demanding cuts, equipment costs and calls for service are on the rise. He warned crews about thinking they can still maintain or do more with less.

"If you are telling people you can still do it, you're kidding them and you're kidding yourselves. It's obvious we're not marketing ourselves."

Huber said it's important for officials to get out to civic organizations and talk to them about what responders do and that it's imperative they have the equipment to carry out their jobs safely.

But, he said fire officers also have to think about the impact higher rates may have on the people they serve. He recalled a woman showing up at his office with brownies. "She told me she couldn't afford to pay any more taxes. But, she offered to bake brownies or cookies."

Huber said he and fire officers from four other neighboring departments realized that while they couldn't continue to provide fire protection alone safely, they may be able to do so together.

The North East Fire Collaborative was formed, and now, departments share resources to assure they have the proper staffing.

Huber said the effort involved building trust, working together and setting aside emotions.

All realized it would not only help keep their crews safe, but allow them to maintain their ever increasing demands for service.

Huber said firefighters need to think outside the box.