Archive for February 5th, 2016

Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District news (more)

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Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District trustees Thursday night voted in a partial, part-time staffing model for fire and ambulance service. The staffing change appeared to be a compromise between what district trustees think may be needed to keep the lights on and what residents told trustees they would not accept at a recent meeting. Trustees had originally planned to implement an all part-time staff. Instead, they converted only some of the rescue staff to part-time status.

The district contracts out with a private company for fire and ambulance staffing. Moving forward, that staffing will see five people, one captain and four firefighter/paramedics at each of the district’s stations around the clock. That staff will be augmented by no fewer than three part-time employees. Those part-time employees will have all the same training as the full-time staff. Many of them will be full-time firefighter/paramedics at other area departments.

“This will save us money, but not as much as we had hoped,” said district President Bob Handley. “It’s a stopgap measure.”

With less savings, Handley said the district will seek a tax increase referendum, most likely in April 2017. If the tax increase request fails, as have all the district’s recent tax increase attempts, Handley said the next step would be implementing a completely part-time staff.

The staffing vote followed the appointment of two new trustees. Carl “Rudy” Herout and Tom Mollenhauer fill the slots recently vacated by the resignations of Trustee Terry Jeglum and former district President Jim Gaffney.

Trustees also announced they will appoint two existing staff members as interim co-chiefs while they begin the search for a new, full-time fire chief.

More updates on the Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District can be found HERE

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Woodstock Fire Rescue District news (more)

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The first of several changes to come for the Woodstock Fire/Rescue District has been announced since the village of Lakewood declined to renew its emergency services contract with the department.

WFRD Chief Ralph Webster said the deputy chief position will be eliminated by April 30 in an effort to save money and ultimately restructure the department. Eliminating the position, currently held by Deputy Chief Terry Menzel, 59, of Woodstock, will save the district about $150,000.

WFRD employees have been aware future potential cuts and decreased work hours are likely since the department lost the Lakewood contract. “We’re facing a significant loss of revenue,” Webster said. “When we took the Lakewood contract, we told the department that there would be changes if we ever lost the contract. It’s not like this was dropped on everyone at the last minute.”

WFRD was contracted to provide fire rescue services to Lakewood for the past five years. During that time, WFRD staffed Lakewood’s only fire station, at 6570 Haligus Road, independent of its staffing at its Woodstock stations. The Lakewood Village Board voted Nov. 24 not to renew a $750,000 annual contract with the WFRD, opting instead to sign a slightly cheaper agreement with the Crystal Lake Fire Department.

Woodstock’s proposal contained set 1.5-percent increases for each of the subsequent four years. The CLFD cost about $744,000 the first year and had subsequent increases built in based on a formula using the village’s property tax base. CLFD will continue working from its own Bard Road station – built years ago when it previously was contracted to provide fire services for Lakewood – but will not use the Haligus Road station.

The two contract proposals were close in cost. That factor, combined with closing a fire station on Haligus Road, left Webster questioning the move.

In restructuring for the future, the WFRD will create two battalion chief positions to serve under the fire chief. Webster has been working with union leaders to address the reduction in staff and work hours. It is possible longtime, part-time employees of the district could lose their jobs.  At the same time, WFRD leaders are trying to restructure the district to align with future needs. WFRD is the result of the 1993 merging of Woodstock Rural Fire Protection District, the Woodstock Rescue Squad and Woodstock City Fire Department.

“We’re trying to push the organizational structure along,” Webster said. “Internally, it makes a lot of sense. We may be reducing some of the part-time positions. We don’t know which ones yet, and there may be a reduction in wages. We’ll be meeting with people in those groups soon. We’re kind of seeing an end of an era.”

Webster said more changes will be announced as decisions are made. The WFRD Board of Trustees next meeting will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, at Station 3, 2900 Raffel Road.

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Stronger penalties for assaulting police, fire, and EMS workers (more)

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 It comes with the job, you never know what the next call will bring, Chicago Firefighter Kelly Begley says. She recalls how on one early morning in October 2014 in the 200 block of west Jackson, she and other CFD first responders firefighters and paramedics were helping Brandon Pinder. He was in need of medical care when he turned on them and attacked. He lunged at the lieutenant, fell to the ground and then bit paramedic Begley in the leg. Both had to be hospitalized.

The pain of the tissue and the damage was one thing, the mental anguish of “what if?” was another. Pinder was charged with multiple felonies and on Wednesday in a courtroom filled with any fellow first responders firefighters and paramedics he received his sentence 6 years in the state penitentiary.

This isn’t the first time she’s been assaulted on the job and too often she says she’s not alone. She said it was her third time being assaulted and this past Halloween weekend, five to seven department members were assaulted and incidents like these happened on a regular basis.

CFD union officials in recent days met with State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to impress upon her that when assaults to first responders firefighters and paramedics happen, they don’t want them watered down to misdemeanors to make room on the docket or in prison for more so-called serious crimes.

Begley says her enthusiasm for her job hasn’t waned, she and her colleagues just want to send a clear message that they didn’t sign up to be assaulted, they signed up to help people.

thanks Dan

Other related posts are HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

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