The Rolling Meadows Fire Department has had plans for some time to build a third fire station. Financial shortfalls with regards to the municipal budget are nothing unique to Rolling Meadows and the village board has cast doubt on the feasability of obtaining the new station. Recently they had voted against alloting the funds for an environmental assesment of the land. An article in today’s Daily Herald tells the story of a reversal of this past decision.

Rolling Meadows reverses course, OKs fire station study

Reversing a March vote, the Rolling Meadows City Council has approved a resolution to move forward on an environmental assessment of the land planned for a controversial third fire station.

The assessment is required if the station is to be built with state and federal grant money.

The assessment, at a cost of $20,000, was approved by a vote of 4 to 2 Tuesday night. Ward 1 Alderman John Pitzaferro and 4th Ward Alderman Brad Judd voted against the measure.

In March, the council rejected by a vote of 5 to 2 a proposal for an assessment from Burke Engineering of Rosemont that was priced at $29,000. Burke Engineering agreed to bring the cost down to $20,000 to win approval.

Rolling Meadows was awarded an Assistance to Firefighters Grant from FEMA worth $1.157 million for the construction of the new station, which would cover about half of the costs. The city also has an additional $100,000 from a state grant. From the awarding of the grant in October, the city has a 36-month window to complete the station or it will lose the grant.

Mike Cannon, a resident of Rolling Meadows, brought up a petition signed by 102 residents to delay building the third fire station until the city is more fiscally sound.

“We can’t keep spending money we don’t have,” said Cannon.

Judd said that “90 percent of his residents” did not want to spend money they did not have to build the fire station. Judd compared it to buying a Mercedes just because it was 40 percent off, even if you didn’t have the money for it.

“To me, $20,000 is too big of a gamble for something we might not even build,” said Pitzaferro.

The fire station would improve response times for residents and businesses in southern Rolling Meadows. Mayor Kenneth Nelson said that some equipment would be relocated to serve the area better.

The Streamwood Fire Department recently made a decision to close one of their three stations. The station on Park Boulevard was closed and the personnel was redistributed to the other two stations without reducing the daily manpower. An article printed in the Daily Herald on April 20, 2010 can be viewed HERE. Today’s Daily Herald has an article which talks about the local residents planning to protest the closing. The article is HERE.

Weekend rallies planned to protest closing of Streamwood fire station

Residents frustrated with what they called the abrupt closing of a Streamwood fire station will rally on Saturday and Sunday.

Rally organizer Matthew Dobson said he wished village officials gave residents more notice when they closed the fire station on Park Boulevard earlier this month.

“I was shocked, because I would have thought they would have told residents more,” he said.

Dobson feels the area around the shuttered station, which will continue to host departmental training, is underserved and that response times to emergencies would increase. He started a Facebook page to keep the station open and it has received more than 900 supporters. The rallys will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., he said.

Village Manager Gary O’Rourke said the moves actually make the department more efficient.

“We do not believe we have diminished the ability to respond to the safety needs of our residents; in fact we believe we are providing a better response,” O’Rourke said.

Village officials closed the station on April 1 and reassigned the firefighters to the village’s other two stations. The move allows the department to add a member aboard fire engines crews, going from two to three. Three-member crews don’t have to wait for backup before entering a burning building, while two-member crews had to wait for additional units.

Dobson lauded the three-member crews and said it increases safety for firefighters. He wished the village could both staff three-member crews and reopen the station.

Deputy Fire Chief Mark Hudson said that’s not possible with the 49 firefighters currently employed.

“The employee pool provides us with 10 firefighter/paramedics and a battalion chief on a day-to-day basis,” he said. “With that staffing we have chosen to operate out of two stations.”

O’Rourke said the village would review how the new staffing plan worked. He also stressed that, contrary to recent comments from residents, the village hasn’t laid off firefighters.

“I think the key component to all of this is the professional fire command team reviewed this operation and recommended this to more effectively response to the public safety needs of the residents of Streamwood,” he said.

However, Trustee Jason Speer echoed Dobson’s concerns about how quickly officials closed the station. He said it was briefly mentioned at a March board meeting.

“There was no warning, no board input on the closing,” he said.

O’Rourke said the matter was discussed at budget workshops. He added that the village acted appropriately.

“There are many things that happen every day that we don’t provide notice for; we’re certainly not trying to hide anything,” he said.