EAST PALESTINE — The village fire department is making some changes in order to better serve the public, and fire Chief Josh Brown said the changes will not interfere with response to emergencies.

One of the those changes is the shifting of manpower among stations in order to place firefighters at stations that are located closer to where they live.

That way, both the public and the firefighters are not at risk when firefighters are hurrying to get to the stations to respond to a call, Brown explained.

“The demographic of the fire department has kind of shifted with the bulk of our membership living on the north end of our jurisdiction. It puts the majority of our membership north of the railroad tracks that run through the middle of town,” he said.

The department currently has a roster of 37 people that provide manpower at three fire stations. Two stations are located on Main and Clark streets in East Palestine and the third is located in Unity Township.

Brown said the railroad tracks can pose a hindrance with regards to emergency response, although firefighters do have access to two bridges to get over the tracks.

He said there have been no issues with emergency response as a result of the tracks, but “it is always a concern.”

As of Thursday, manpower assignments were changed to allow for three firefighters at the Main Street station, seven at the Unity Township station, and the remainder at the Clark Street station.

“We assign them to the closest station, that way we are trying to reduce the risk to everyone involved,”Brown said.

The reassignment will not effect who responds in the event of a fire, since all three stations respond to structure fire calls per the mutual aid agreement.

The other change is a shifting of resources among the stations temporarily since the fire engine at the Unity Township station is out of service for mechanical problems and in need of repair. Both changes will have no effect on the department’s ambulance placement.

Brown said the fire engine that is out of service is owned by the New Waterford Fire Department, which will be responsible for the cost of the repair.

The engine was originally supplied to the Unity Township fire station by New Waterford when the New Waterford and East Palestine departments began manning the township fire station in 2017. The township does not have its own fire department and instead contracts with East Palestine and New Waterford for fire services.

Brown said that it made more sense to bring East Palestine’s new tanker truck to the Main Street fire station and temporarily move the fire engine from that station at the Unity Township station, since the seating arrangements on the vehicles better fit the manpower ability.

The fire truck at the Unity station seats six firefighters and holds approximately 1,000 gallons of water and has a 1,250-gallon per minute pump capability. The truck at the Main Street station seats two firefighters and and holds approximately 3,000 gallons of water and has a 1,250-gallon per minute pump capability.

There is also a utility truck that seats six firefighters that is housed at the Main Street station, Brown said.

“We determined that it was a smarter choice to realign the equipment temporarily until the apparatus that is assigned to the Unity station is repaired and back in service to better our responsibilities to provide the fire service to both East Palestine and Unity Township residents,” he said.

This change will not result in any chance in response to emergencies, he added.

“The shifting of this equipment will not change the response of the fire department or the manpower of the fire department. That remains the same regardless of where the call happens to be,” Brown said.

A notice of the changes was also posted on the East Palestine Fire Department’s Facebook page.