Swanton Fire Department Evaluation and Training Program Presented to Council

The Swanton Village Council listened to a presentation given by Rudy Ruiz, the Executive Director of Resource Management Consultants (RCM), on Workshop, Training and Coaching for the Continuous Organizational Improvement of the Swanton Fire & Rescue Division (SFRD) during the March 8th Council meeting.  Mr. Ruiz, who is also the Fire Chief of the City of Perrysburg, laid out several different options for improvement, following RCM evaluations, with a heavy focus on personnel development and improving internal problem solving through communication and training to better serve the Swanton community.

During a “discovery” meeting held with Mr. Ruiz, Mayor Neil Toeppe, Administrator Rosanna Hoelzle and Fire Chief Anthony Schaffer the week prior to the presentation, several areas were identified as needing attention.  “Those things are improved team communication, improved teamwork and collaboration, strengths and weaknesses of leaders, increased effectiveness of leaders, communication issues among co-workers, improve the ability to connect with a team, group or audience and also develop a succession plan,” said Chief Ruiz.

He explained that his company offered “packages” of training modules that may or may not fit the specific issues within the SFRD but that they also customized packages to fit the specific needs of a department.  “We also offer grant writing opportunities,” Mr. Ruiz added.  “I have been a grant reviewer since 2006 and I know exactly what the grant reviewers are looking for.  Since I’ve been doing that, we have raised over 16 million dollars for area fire departments throughout the country.”  The only payment he asked for in return for writing the grant was that he would be awarded the contract if the grant was approved.  When asked how much of an estimated $11,000 grant he thought he would be successful in getting approved, Mr. Ruiz said, “I’ll get all of it,” and added it would take approximately three to four months for a decision.  Finance Director Jennifer Harkey then informed Council that the $11,000 cost had been placed into the budget even though the actual cost to taxpayers might be zero.

One concern voiced by Council member Mike Rochelle in doing an evaluation was not knowing how the SFRD would be structured in the future if it were to become part of a fire district with other area departments.  Mr. Ruiz said his company has experience with a very similar situation involving the Northwood and Rossford Fire Departments.

Typically, the amount of time required for the entire process is about one year, but Mr. Ruiz would hope to complete everything within six months.  He also said this would include department evaluations.  “It has to include an evaluation process,” said the Perrysburg Chief.  “It would have zero value for me to come in, do the job and leave without knowing how things are going to end up.  I have to consistently evaluate.”

The Council agreed to move forward with proposed legislation in the form of an Emergency Resolution with one stipulation.  With the possibility of the grant funding ranging from zero dollars to a fully funded $11,000, Mr. Rochelle recommended that the Resolution be amended to include verbiage that it would be re-evaluated if the funding was less than 100%.

Later in the meeting, the amended version of Emergency Resolution 2021-XX, authorizing the submission and support of an application to FEMA for the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant was unanimously approved.

Pictured:  Rudy Ruiz, Executive Director of Resource Management Consultants, presents before Council.

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