Third Bay County community switching to combined public safety department

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BAY CITY (WJRT) (5/13/2019) - Switching to a public safety department has been controversial, but two Bay County communities are on board and a third is making the switch.

A number of Bay County police and fire personnel spent part of Monday doing drills on becoming better firefighters. Most began their careers as police officers.

"We do police work 90 percent of the time, so our fire responses are less than 10 percent of the time, which means we have to train even more to be good at what we do," said Kurt Corradi, the public safety training officer in Bay City.

The city merged its police and fire departments in 2012 to create the Bay City Department of Public Safety. Nearly seven years later, Corradi believes the public safety model is working.

Joe Lanava is a captain with the police department but also puts on a the firefighting gear when called. Essexville and Hampton Townshipo police and fire have also merged, but Lanava said it's not for every municipality.

"I think in some departments where they are so busy with police calls they don't have time to free up to do firefighting," he said.

Acting Bay City Fire Chief Brian Ducham agrees, even though he decided to just stick with firefighting when the 2012 public safety merger took place.

"I like the fire service," he said. "There is too much other side on the police side that doesn't interest me. It's strictly fire."

Officers used an abandoned home for Monday's training. Several of them will have have testing later this week, allowing them to be both police officers and firefighters.

"Obviously, it's always better to have two separate departments. But when you don't have the money to fund that, then this is what we have and this seems to work really well for us," Corradi said.