Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What happens when I call 911 for an EMS or fire emergency?
A. When you dial 911 your call is routed to one of the five public safety answer points (PSAP) in Kalamazoo County. The five PSAPs are Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department, Kalamazoo Township, City of Kalamazoo, City of Portage, and Western Michigan University. 911 calls in Oshtemo Township are routed to the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department.
When connected the dispatcher will ask what emergency you are experiencing. If it is a request for emergency medical services the PSAP will do a three-way call with the appropriate EMS dispatcher (for Oshtemo Township Life EMS). The EMS dispatcher will determine the level of care needed and dispatch the ambulance and if necessary the fire department to provide emergency first response.
If the emergency is fire related the PSAP will immediately dispatch the fire department to your location. It is important to provide as much information to the dispatcher as possible, this greatly helps the fire department when they are responding. The more information the fire department can have prior to arriving, the more efficient the response.
Q. When I call 9-1-1 for a Medical Emergency, why does the fire department show up?
A. Because the Oshtemo Township Fire Department is a Medical First Response (MFR) provider, all firefighters are required to undergo medical emergency response training. Most of our firefighters are Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) or Medical First Responders (MFRs), and some are even Paramedics. When a 9-1-1 call is received for a medical emergency, there are many times when the fire department can arrive before the ambulance and begin patient care. Other times, we help the ambulance crew by assisting with patient care, removing the patient from a dangerous area, or even riding the ambulance to the hospital assisting the paramedics.
Q. Where exactly IS Oshtemo Township?
A. As some may know, typical townships in the Midwest are 6 miles by 6 miles square in area, or 36 square miles. Oshtemo Township is no different. Our northern border (with Alamo) is West G Ave., eastern border (Kalamazoo Township) is Drake Rd., southern border (Texas Township) is West N Ave., On the west, we are bordered by the Village of Mattawan and Antwerp Township, at Van Kal Rd / South 22nd St.
Q. Does Oshtemo Township provide fire services to other municipalities?
A. Yes. Oshtemo Township has automatic aid agreements with bordering fire departments. For every structure fire in Oshtemo Township the appropriate border department (dependent on where the fire is) is dispatched at the same time as the Oshtemo Township Fire Department. The Oshtemo Township Fire Department, along with many other county fire departments, participate in mutual aid agreements as well, in which we assist departments requesting help on an incident, and also may receive help from those same departments should we need additional resources at an incident.
Q. Can I burn leaves, brush, or other yard waste on my property?
A. Yes, if the weather permits, and provided you first obtain a burn permit. Burn permits are free and can be obtained by calling (269) 375-0487. Burn permits allow you to burn small piles of brush, so long as it is done safely, away from buildings, when the wind speed is low, and there are adequate people and water available to control the fire. You may NOT burn building materials, garbage, etc.
Q. Can I have a backyard campfire in Oshtemo?
A. Yes, as long as the Burning Ordinance is adhered to.
256.060 – RECREATIONAL FIRES
256.061 – Location.
Sec. 6.1. Recreational fires shall not be conducted within 25 feet of a structure or combustible material unless contained in a barbecue pit
or charcoal/gas grills. Conditions which could cause a fire to spread to within 25 feet of a structure shall be eliminated prior to ignition.
256.062 – Fire extinguishing equipment.
Sec. 6.2. A bucket, shovel, garden hose or a fire extinguisher with a minimum 4-A rating shall be readily available for use at recreational fires.
256.063 – Attendance.
Sec. 6.3. Recreational fires shall be constantly attended by a person knowledgeable in the use of the fire extinguishing equipment. An attendant shall supervise a recreational fire until such fire has been extinguished.
256.064 – Discontinuance.
Sec. 6.4. The Fire Chief or his/her designee is authorized to require that recreational fires be immediately discontinued if the Fire Chief or his/her designee determines that the smoke emissions are offensive to occupants of surrounding property or if the fire is determined by the Fire Chief or his/her designee to constitute a hazardous condition.
Q. Why do I sometimes see an emergency vehicle go through an intersection with emergency lights and sirens on, and then, after they go through, turn them off and slow down?
A. Many times, several units are dispatched to the same emergency incident. The first unit may have arrived on scene, surveyed the situation, and informed the dispatcher that it was under control, or that more units were not necessary. All other responding units were cancelled and placed back into service, ready to take another call. Most likely, when you see an emergency vehicle go through an intersection “Priority One” (lights and sirens) and then slow down and turn the emergency lights off, they have been cancelled from the call they were going on, or requested to continue “Priority Three” (non-emergency, normal traffic).
Q. Sometimes I see a car, pickup truck, or other every-day vehicle with flashing red lights and a siren coming down the street. Is this a fire department vehicle? What should I do?
A. Some of our on-call personnel equip their personal vehicles with lights and sirens. They are activated when responding to a priority (life threatening) call. If you see one of these vehicles coming down the street, treat them as you would any other emergency vehicle, by yielding and moving your vehicle to the right.
Q. Why do some fire trucks park down the street from an incident?
A. In situations when a scene is deemed unsafe due to a potentially violent patient or family member, or if there are dangerous drugs or weapons involved, Fire and EMS units may “stage” until the police department has secured (made safe) the scene. On fire calls, apparatus may stage until they have been provided an assignment by the “Incident Commander”. Because of the number of things that must be done near simultaneously during a fire attack, it is important to only have those units/personnel that have an active assignment proceed to the scene, with the rest staged and ready to deploy.
Q. What is the Oshtemo Township Fire Department radio frequency?
A. We use the Kalamazoo County Fire Dispatch frequency of 154.430 MHz.
Q. Who do I call to schedule Oshtemo Township Fire Truck, Firefighter, or Fire Safety Class at my function, or to schedule a tour of a Fire Station?
A. Call Fire Station5-1 at (269) 375-0487 and ask for Driver/Operator Bob Flahive or call Fire Station 5-2 at 269-544-2081 and ask for Captain Chip Everett.
Q. Where should I install smoke detectors in my home?
A. Install a minimum of two smoke detectors, even in single-story homes. Install a smoke detector in each bedroom, in addition to the corridors outside sleeping areas. Also install a smoke detector in the basement, and at the top of stairwells. Don’t forget to change batteries regularly! A smoke detector with dead batteries is the same as no smoke detector at all!
Q. My smoke detector emits a small beep every few minutes. Does this mean it needs to be replaced?
A. Usually not. The “chirping” noise you hear usually means your batteries are starting to run low. Replace them as soon as possible. Smoke detectors should be replaced as indicated by their expiration date but never longer than 10 years.
Q. My carbon monoxide detector’s alarm is sounding. What should I do?
A. Get everyone outside and Call 9-1-1. This is an emergency! Advise the dispatcher whether or not you, or anyone else in the building is exhibiting signs of carbon monoxide poisoning (headache, lightheadedness, nausea, fatigue). This will help the dispatcher send the proper units to your location. If no one is exhibiting symptoms, the Fire Department will respond non-emergency, to check carbon monoxide levels. If symptoms are being exhibited by one or more people, you can expect the Fire Department and EMS to be sent to your location “Priority One” (lights and sirens) to begin helping those who have been affected.
Q. Can I use an outdoor grill (gas, propane, charcoal) on my apartment deck or patio?
A. There are many variables involved in outdoor grill use on apartment decks and patios. There is no one simple answer to this question. Please call the Fire Department for more information. Also, be advised that many landlords have their own policies for grill usage on their property.
Q. Do you fill swimming pools or pump out basements?
A. Because this makes units unavailable for emergency calls, and may potentially damage pumps and lawns, we do not fill swimming pools or pump basements. Try looking under “Swimming Pools” and “Disaster Recovery”/”Restoration” respectively, in the Yellow Pages.
Q. Do you repair fire extinguishers, or recharge fire extinguishers that have been used?
A. No. Try looking in the Yellow Pages under “Fire Extinguishers” or “Fire Protection”.
Q. I’ve stopped by one of the fire stations several times and nobody seems to be there. Where is everyone?
A. Although there is always at least one person on duty at the Fire House 24/7 they are sometimes called away from the Fire House for emergency calls, errands, inspections, or maintenance functions.
If you have an emergency, always dial 9-1-1. There is an emergency telephone located in the grey box outside of the Fire House (left of big garage door). This is a direct dial 9-1-1 line to the dispatcher.
If you would like to speak with someone in person, please call ahead and request a meeting time.
Q. How many firefighters work for the Oshtemo Township Fire Department?
A. We have six full-time personnel, including the Chief, who are supplemented by 26 Paid/On-Call personnel.
Q. What kind of schedule do firefighters work?
A. Fire Station5-1 has 4 full-time fire personnel, while Fire Station 5-2 has 2 full-time fire personnel. All 6 full-time personnel work 9 hour shifts. There is always at least two full-time person on duty at the Fire Stations between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm, Monday through Friday. During other times, there are two on duty Paid/On Call person at each Fire Station. Paid/On-Call firefighters are dispatched for incidents via tone-alert pagers to respond. Paid/On-call firefighters also respond to supplement the one duty firefighters leaving from the fire station during the weekdays, and many times Paid/On-Call personnel are at the stations during the day. In addition, all personnel are required to attend regular training sessions on various topics, and to complete required courses to keep their licenses current. These trainings are usually held at the Fire Station twice per month.