REED CITY — A small guideline more than 20 years old will no longer restrict Reed City Fire Department Chief Jeff Stein from utilizing some area firefighters who want to serve with the department.

During its regular monthly meeting on Monday, the Reed City Council voted to remove the standard operating guideline which denies firefighters who are members of other fire departments the opportunity to serve with the city's.

The change would have an immediate effect on the department, Stein told council members.

"Right now, there are four firefighters who are on Hersey Township's department but live here, but because they serve on that department, they can't be on the department," he explained to officials. "If they respond now to one of our calls in their personal vehicles, they're not under our insurance, not under the city, and they'd be acting more like a Good Samaritan."

Stein said the removal of the guideline would improve the fire department's capability when firefighters are called when Medical First Responders are needed, which make up nearly 75 percent of the workload.

A couple of council members wondered what the cost would be to the city.

"The cost to the city is no more than what it is going to cost me to keep adding more members to the department," he said. "Right now, I have 14 members, one junior firefighter, and one on medical leave — leaving me with 13. Adding these four would get me up to higher number. They are already certified and trained."

The city would incur the cost for the required physical and stress test, which Stein said would be $1,000 for each firefighter.

"It would be no different if I were to bring on four more people," he said. "I'm hurting for personnel right now. ... It's actually saving money because they are already trained. If I hire someone new, I have to put them through Firefighter 1 and Medical First Responder courses."

City Manager Ron Howell said he and Stein have talked about the change, and plan to return to the council to evaluate if it benefits the department and the city.

Council member Dave Scharlow said it was a good idea, as the city's fire department would benefit from the training the individuals already have.

In other action from Monday evening's meeting, council members approved:

n A three-year agreement for purchasing natural gas from CenterPoint Energy. The city currently has an agreement with CenterPoint Energy for $4.05 one million British Thermal Units. Council agreed on CenterPoint Energy's bid of $3.35 MBTU. Howell was to check Tuesday to see if the bid fluctuated more than 1.5 percent more than the bid. If so, council would return to look at bids it received.

n Allowing commercially zoned establishments operating in C-1 and C-2 zones to have same services as allowed in C-3 commercial zones, in terms of what is provided by health club and health center uses.

n A $3,500 bid from engineering firm Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr and Huber for pre-application submission services to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development for the Todd Avenue Water Main Project. The project includes upsizing the current 8-inch and 10-inch water main to a 12-inch line from Higbee to Morse streets and recoating the 300-gallon Church Street tank. Both of the projects are estimated to cost approximately $1.4 million.

n Applying for a Michigan Economic Development Corporation Infrastructure Capacity Enhancement grant for the Todd Avenue project, which Howell estimated could cost as much as $1.4 million.