From the

Elmhurst aldermen this week pondered ideas to scale back the local fire department, saying they wanted to reflect today’s needs; fire departments are spending much more of their time on emergency medical service calls.

At a budget meeting Monday, aldermen said they understood the need to find ways to run the city’s larger fire trucks less often. Those trucks cost a lot more in maintenance and gas.

The city is poised to budget up to $380,000 for a rescue squad, which officials said would reduce the use of a ladder truck. It was suggested that the rescue squad may cost as little as $220,000. The ladder truck in question was expected to last 20 years, but at current usage rates, that estimate has been reduced to a dozen years. With the purchase of a rescue squad, the ladder truck is expected to last 30 years, according to city estimates.

One alderwoman thought that the city’s analysis that a ladder truck would last 30 years was a bit of a stretch, saying that “There is just no way that anyone on a city council 20 years from now is going to let a fire truck be 30 years old” and that “There are several of us on the city council who already feel that the City of Elmhurst has too much fire equipment. So while I appreciate the desire to want to save money, buying more equipment might not be the right way.”

She suggested the city may want to get rid of the ladder truck in question. In the rare instance in which a ladder truck is needed, she said the city could get assistance through mutual aid agreements with its neighbors.

Another said the council should take a look at the fire department’s spending, noting that over the last few decades, fire prevention efforts, less smoking, and improved building codes have dramatically reduced the number of fires nationally He added “I’m not up here saying we don’t need a fire department, but I do think we have to think about it differently.”

Yet another agreed with his colleagues’ sentiments., saying that the larger trucks leave a massive footprint.  “They’re huge,” he said. “I’m all for downsizing to a vehicle that is more nimble and more appropriate to actually navigate our streets for these calls.”