NEW MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – When a fire department gets a call for help, it responds immediately. There are costs associated even with volunteer fire departments.

New Middletown is trying to address those costs in a new levy. A 3.5 mill levy is on the ballot for the fire department. The department has a 2.5 mill levy which started 23 years ago. The money it brings in helps the department maintain dedicated service to the village.

“We’ve been working on that budget for a long time, and we need to be able to update, expand what we have and bring some new equipment in that we currently don’t have,” said New Middletown Fire Chief Lee Ingold.

Operating costs have gone up significantly. A firefighter’s basic equipment is now 33% more expensive than just three years ago, and it must be replaced every 10 years. A breathing pack is an extra $7,000.

In 2019, the department had 65 emergency responses. There have been 161 already this year as October started.

“Call volume has gone up dramatically over the last couple of years, and we need to be able to respond appropriately and take care of the citizens of the community,” Ingold said.

EMS medical emergencies made up 74% of the emergency responses this year. Ingold is addressing the need for acquiring an ambulance. It would lead to faster ambulance response times, better patient care, and less money spent on outside ambulance services. That’s been a problem in the village.

“There are times when nobody’s available. We have one ambulance response because nobody was available — from Greene Township,” Ingold said.

The chief doesn’t like hearing about extended wait times. The village can’t rely on two departments with staffing along its border to help. The department wants to provide for its own citizens.

“That’s what this levy is about is being able to take care of this community,” Ingold said.