Author Archives: Matt Rarick

Public safety should rule in Canfield road struggle


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If there’s one person whose opinion must matter more than any other in the controversy surrounding a public road in Canfield, it’s Don Hutchison, chief of the Cardinal Joint Fire District.

Hutchison doesn’t have a political constituency to consider, he doesn’t have a personal stake in the battle, and he certainly doesn’t have to pick sides.

The chief is governed by this overarching responsibility: to ensure the safety of the public.

Therefore, everyone should just step back and let Hutchison have the final say on what should happen to the road that connects Timber Run Drive and Stonebridge development in the city of Canfield to the Westbury development in Canfield Township.

There’s no doubt the controversy over whether the road should be kept open for public use or restricted to emergency vehicles and personnel has ignited the passions of city and township residents. But this is an issue that must be resolved using objective criteria.

Last week, Canfield council’s meeting room was jammed with city and township residents hoping to influence the outcome of the struggle.

But it was the comment of the fire chief that put the issue in context: “The safety of everybody, that’s what I want to see. This is a community risk, city and township.”

Hutchison, in his official capacity, called for an unimpeded, open road. And to demonstrate just how seriously he takes his charge as the protector of the public, the chief made it known that he is prepared to file a lawsuit if the final decision about the road violates the state’s fire codes on access.

Indeed, access is at the heart of the battle between the city and township.

Mayor Bernie Kosar Sr. suggested last week the road should be kept open, but that access should be limited to emergency vehicles.

However, Canfield Township Trustee Marie Cartwright pointed out that a public access road was part of the original design of the Stonebridge development and thus there’s no justification for changing that plan.

“It was stated as public policy, that roadway was going to get in there at some point in the future,” Cartwright said.

Road plans

Indeed, the planning commission approved road plans dating to 1991, and undoubtedly many prospective home- owners looked at the access to public roads and the ease of ingress and egress when deciding where to buy or build.

Several residents on Timber Run Drive now want the road connecting the two developments to either be gated and padlocked or converted to a non-throughway road only accessible to emergency vehicles. Neither of the suggestions makes sense.

Westbury homeowners correctly point out that closing and/or gating and padlocking a long-standing planned road, which is now open, would jeopardize the safety of their families living in the development. Emergency vehicles would be forced to take a longer route or face delays while personnel unlocked the gate to enter the development.

The only other access road to Westbury development is Gibson. However, because the development has more than 30 homes, Ohio fire codes mandate two points of access.

In the end, the battle between Canfield city and township residents comes down to this question: Does public safety trump the desire of a select few homeowners to hold down the traffic count in their neighborhoods?

We believe it does, which is why the ultimate decision on what happens to the connecting road should be based on the opinion of fire Chief Hutchison.

Canfield City Council is awaiting a report from the Cardinal Joint Fire District and the Ohio Turnpike Commission, which paid for completion of the road.

The attendance at last week’s council meeting shows that this is a battle that could reopen old wounds that existed for so long when the two communities were at loggerheads.

Great progress has been made in bringing the city and township to the table to find common ground on myriad issues. The Cardinal Joint Fire District is without question a success story of cooperation.

Recently, the creation of a joint economic development district to pave the way for the construction of the Windsor House assisted-living facility is a testament to the willingness of decision-makers in both communities to do what’s in the best interest of the public.

Open Burning & Recreational Fires

The Ohio Fire Code is the minimum standard for fire safety in the State of Ohio

These rules are promulgated and adopted by the Ohio Division of State Fire Marshal and become statewide law that the CJFD must comply with. In addition, the Ohio Administrative Code regulates open burning activities and is enforced by the Ohio EPA and locally by the Regional Air Pollution and Control Agency.

The CJFD receives many requests for information related to open burning requirements. The most common request is for information concerning the requirements for having a recreational fire within the City limits. The Ohio rules and laws define a recreational fire as:

An outdoor fire burning materials other than rubbish where the fuel being burned is not contained in an incinerator, outdoor fireplace, barbecue grill or barbecue pit and has a total fuel area of 3 feet or less in diameter and 2 feet or less in height for pleasure, religious, ceremonial, cooking, warmth or similar purposes.

The Ohio Administrative Code contains additional provisions for open burning within restricted areas that applies to the City and Township of Canfield, because of our population and the fact that we are located within an incorporated area. In these rules yard waste materials can not be burned at anytime.

Residents may have a recreational fire subject to the following rules and regulations.

 • The only material that can be burned is clean dry wood as a fuel source. (No yard waste or rubbish materials or prohibited materials defined by the OAC may be burned at any time).

• If the fire is contained in an approved container such as an outdoor fireplace, barbecue pit, etc. the fire must be at least 15 feet from a structure or combustible materials.

• For an open fire not contained, the fire must be at least 25 feet from a structure, wood fence, neighboring structure or combustible materials. Conditions that could cause a fire to spread within 25 feet of the fire must be eliminated prior to ignition of a fire.

• The fire must be constantly attended while burning and must be extinguished if it is not attended.

• A portable fire extinguisher with a minimum of a 4A rating or garden hose, bucket of sand or other suitable means for extinguishing the fire must be provided.

• The fire must not create an offensive or objectionable condition that interferes with the neighboring residents’ use and enjoyment of their property. If this occurs, the Fire Division is required to order the person responsible for the fire to extinguish it.

• The Fire District is required to extinguish fires, which create hazardous conditions.

The most common complaint from neighbors is when recreational fires are not conducted in accordance with the rules and regulations, or when the environmental conditions cause the smoke to migrate off of the property into the residence of neighboring property. Persons with chronic breathing problems can often times be affected by these conditions.

Another issue that commonly comes up associated with recreational fires, is noise and disturbance of the neighborhood when these events extend late into the evening.

This is a police matter and will be dealt with by the Canfield Police Department or Mahoning County Sheriff.

If the CJFD orders you to extinguish your fire due to non-compliance with the rules and regulations, or the fire creates an offensive or objectionable condition, you are bound by Ohio law to comply with the request. Failure to do so may result in result in you being charged with violation of the open burning regulations.

If you have any questions concerning the Ohio Open Burning Regulations, please contact Deputy Chief Matt Rarick at (330) 533-4316 ext. 3.



Car Seat Safety Checks

Schedule a Child Car Seat Fitting

The Cardinal Joint Fire District encourages parents to schedule a child safety seat check. The purpose is to ensure that child passengers are properly secured.

Call the Cardinal Joint Fire District at 330-533-4316 ext. 3 to schedule a child car seat fitting.

New Ohio Booster Law

As of 2009, only 20% of children 4-8 years of age are using booster seats.  A large number of these children are severely or fatally injured as a result of being improperly restrained during motor vehicle crashes.

Every child under 8 years old and under 4’9″ must be in a booster.

CJFD car seat technicians are certified by the National Child Passenger Safety Certification Training Program (Safe Kids)

The three main reasons for improper installation are:
• Incorrect seat installation
• Wrong child/seat size
• Loose restraints

In preparation for your appointment, here are a few things to consider:
• Bring the children and car seats to be checked
• If possible have both parents present
• Have your car seat and vehicle owner manuals handy
• Car seat installation area should be free of dirt and debris


Schedule an Appointment


EMS History

The CJFD was the first fire department in Mahoning County to provide emergency medical services, beginning in 1974. During the summer of 2000, the CJFD transitioned to full-service paramedic-level providers. Today, the CJFD is the only paid department in the county to offer first-responder paramedic services.

The Cardinal Joint Fire District provides both basic and advanced life support with first responder paramedic service to the people of the City of Canfield and Canfield Township.

When you call 911, dispatchers alert the fire department about a medical emergency at your location. CJFD responds from two strategically-located fire stations, one located on Lisbon Street in the City of Canfield and the other located on Messerly Road in Canfield Township. Both fire stations are staffed with a minimum of two personnel, one paramedic and one first responder/EMT 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

The Emergency Medical Service’s job is to stabilize the patient until an ambulance arrives to transport that patient to a hospital for further evaluation. Our department is made up of both men and women who train daily to provide the best medical service possible. The CJFD has its own medical director and medical protocol, allowing us to operate in a manner that best suits this community.

Our goal is to provide our community members and visitors with the best service in timely, professional manner. As the EMS field expands, the CJFD will expand as well.