Grand Traverse Rural Fire Department Discusses Future

The Grand Traverse Rural Fire Department is discussing what to do next after another township voted to pull out of the fire department.

Monday night Green Lake Township voted to leave Rural Fire.

 Green Lake has been threatening to pull its support of the department for the past 18 months saying it would be cheaper to run their own.

Blair Township and Long Lake Township have also recently left the department.

Grand Traverse Rural brought in a consultant to figure out how the department could improve.

The department is currently reviewing the more than 40 recommendations.

The Chair of the Grand Traverse Rural Fire Department board says the biggest impact of Green Lake Township leaving will be on the budget. They contributed about a third of the budget. The fire department already had a budget in place in case this happened.

“We don’t have as much money. We are looking at the contract for the chief and we have talked about that we may have to fund that position with less money. We’re looking at staff positions possible cuts on that,” said board chair Linda Forwerk.

They’re also waiting to see what Grant Township does. They’ve also told rural fire they may leave by the end of the year.

“I respect their decision, if they feel it is better for their constituents to go on their own and supply their own fire service that’s up to them. We will just move forward with Rural Fire made up of the 5 units of government at this point,” said Forwerk. 

People living in Green Lake Township hope the fire services and response times stay the same.

“I really think the service is going to remain the same as long as the township can save money like they’re claiming they can I think it will be beneficial to the township. The location of the department is not changing so the response time should be the same,” said Barry Havens who lives in Interlochen.  

But the chair of the board says there’s no plan to dissolve Rural Fire, despite Green Lake Township making that recommendation.

“It’s been a difficult process to go through would we have liked to have seen all the units stay in for the health or rural fire? Yes but it did not happen,” said Forwerk.