Posts Tagged Barrington Countryside board President Tom Rowan

Barrington Countryside FPD orders new engine

The Barrington Courier Review has an article about the Barrington Countryside FPD ordering an new engine.

Continuing to expand its fleet, Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District trustees budgeted $425,000 last week for the purchase of a new fire engine.

Earlier in January, the board approved the purchase of two Ford F-150 pickup trucks for equipment transportation and two Ford Expedition to be used as shift command vehicles. Fire district officials said the vehicles will improve firefighters’ ability to protect residents as it operates independent of the village of Barrington’s Fire Department. The long-term fleet expansion plan does not call for increased taxes, district officials said.

“The new fire engine will hold 1,250 gallons of water and be able to carry larger diameter hoses for fire suppression activities,” District Fire Chief Jeff Swanson said. “In addition, the vehicle’s raised cab roof will provide more room for BCFPD firefighters and paramedics and their equipment, and improve their safety.”

The new engine is being built by Florida-based E-One, a worldwide manufacturer of emergency vehicles. The engine will replace an older pumper that will remain in service as a reserve engine.

In total, the new vehicles were budgeted to cost no more than $546,275. District officials said they were able to save taxpayers nearly $30,000 on the purchases by using state purchase pricing.

“Long before the BCFPD began independent operations, the board realized that we would need to upgrade our vehicles to meet the needs of our district,” District President Tom Rowan said. “We committed ourselves to make those improvements without raising taxes on residents.”

In 2012, the district retired more than $1 million in long-term bond obligations which had been originally raised to fund the purchase of the district’s Lake Barrington fire station, officials said. The move saved about $661,000 in interest payments that would have been due over the next 20 years, according to the district.


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Dispute arises between the Barrington FD and the Barrington Countryside FPD

The Daily Herald has another article on the split between the Village of Barrington Fire Department and the Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District.

The Barrington Fire Department and Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District went their separate ways as scheduled New Year’s Day — but not without some last-minute miscommunication. Even though the 48-square-mile fire district received 19 firefighters laid off by the village of Barrington at the stroke of midnight, those firefighters weren’t allowed to bring their individually fitted safety gear with them.

This forced the fire district to borrow gear from the Fox River Grove Fire Protection District a few days before the split, and to begin making arrangements to lease gear from elsewhere during the coming months.

Barrington Village Manager Jeff Lawler said the issue arose from the fact that the district didn’t hire the laid-off firefighters directly, but through the private contractor Paramedic Services of Illinois. “It is taxpayer property and we can’t just give it to someone else without the proper legal mechanism to do so,” Lawler said. He added that this issue was addressed in a conversation with fire district officials in early December and he didn’t understand how they could have overlooked it.

Barrington Countryside board President Tom Rowan said the conversation Lawler referred to is one only the village of Barrington seems to recall.

Because the fire district and village of Barrington co-owned all the equipment they shared during their decades-long contractual relationship, it was meant to be divided evenly at the end as all the vehicles were, Rowan said.

Barrington Countryside Fire Chief Jeff Swanson said that while rules should be followed, they should never get in the way of safety. While the legalistic separation of the gear could have been worked out over time, the firefighters needed to be using it on New Year’s Day, he said.

Barrington Countryside employs a total of 34 firefighters through Paramedic Services of Illinois. Only the 19 laid off from the Barrington Fire Department were affected by the dispute over the equipment. Swanson said the specially fitted equipment newly ordered for these employees isn’t expected to arrive until the spring. They will be using leased equipment in the meantime.

Apart from this issue, both agencies reported that they’ve been fulfilling all their operational responsibilities since the split. The Barrington Fire Department’s jurisdiction narrowed from covering the district as well to just the village’s five square miles.

Rowan said morale is high among the fire district’s new staff, evidenced by their cleaning all their equipment anew just after receiving it from the village of Barrington after midnight Wednesday morning.

Barrington Countryside covers parts of Barrington Hills, Lake Barrington, South Barrington, Inverness and unincorporated Cook, Lake and McHenry counties. 

On a separate note, our information about the apparatus split is as follows:

The Village of Barrington Fire Department has:

  • one engine
  • the quint
  • the battalion buggy
  • two ambulances

The Barrington Countryside FPD has:

  • Two engines
  • the squad
  • the tanker (in addition to a newly acquired tanker)
  • two ambulances

At this point in time, we are unsure of the ownership of the brush unit.

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Barrington FD & Fire District update

The Daily Herald has an article about the separation of the Barrington FD and the Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District as the split nears:

An exchange of letters between the Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District and village of Barrington in late September 2012 began a 15-month process of separating their fire services that becomes real at the stroke of midnight this New Year’s Eve.

Only then will the true test of both agencies’ preparations begin, during a transitional period that will last anywhere from a minute to a year, depending who you ask. It will take a year to fully measure the finances of the fire district’s newly independent fire department, but the test of its operations should take only a few months, board President Tom Rowan said.

“To me, the measure of success is to provide even better service than we did before,” Rowan said. “That’s our goal, for people to say, ‘Wow, that’s a great operation!'” For Barrington Countryside Fire Chief Jeff Swanson, the obligation to be a great operation starts the moment his crew begins its first shift.

In addition to fire protection and ambulance service, the fire district will aim to be more community-focused — providing outreach and education through schools, churches, senior centers and other venues, Rowan said. The fire district covers 48 square miles that include parts of Barrington Hills, Lake Barrington, South Barrington, Inverness and unincorporated Cook, Lake and McHenry counties.

The district has two fire stations, one in Barrington Hills and one in Lake Barrington. It has begun looking for a third location that will improve response times. The district has automatic-aid agreements with several neighboring departments, but Barrington is not one of them.

The two agencies will provide one another with the more standard form of mutual aid — in the case of a big fire, it’s all hands on deck — but they don’t have an auto-aid agreement that spells out the specifics of going above and beyond mutual aid.

Countryside is trying to staff itself so it can depend less on mutual aid than before, Rowan said.

Barrington, however, considers the lack of an automatic-aid agreement with its old partner to be unfinished business, Barrington Fire Chief Jim Arie said. While the Barrington Fire Department is narrowing its focus to the village’s five square miles with the more experienced half of its staff, the lack of an auto-aid agreement with a neighbor ignores a basic tenet of emergency service, Arie said. “It takes some of our closest resources off the table,” he said. “That’s a change I’d prefer didn’t happen.”

The fact that fire district equipment will be passing through Barrington to reach areas of its jurisdiction flies in the face of using the closest available resources, Arie said. He just hopes it’s not at the expense of anyone’s well-being in the meantime.

The separation initially was sparked by fire district trustees’ frustration that their requests for more equipment and staff were regularly denied by Barrington officials, who ran the fire service for both jurisdictions. Now, Countryside trustees say they are satisfied with their starting staffing level. They will study whether their two water tankers are enough, since a large area of their territory is without hydrants, Rowan said.

Both Barrington and Countryside will experience a slight increase in their staffing levels relative to their jurisdiction size — Barrington to 18 firefighters and Barrington Countryside to 34.

Barrington Countryside’s staff will consist of 19 firefighters laid off by Barrington, with the rest hired from private contractor Paramedic Services of Illinois.

thanks Dan

Also, from the Barrington-Courier Review:

The Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District announced Friday that it will assist the village of Barrington’s Fire Department through the regional response program, but said it is no longer seeking an automatic aid pact with the village.

Reporting that negotiations are at a stalemate, district officials said they will rely on aid agreements with other neighboring agencies when independent fire operations begin Jan. 1.

“The [protection district] will gladly provide assistance to our neighbors in the village of Barrington through [the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System] whenever they need us,” District Chief Jeff Swanson said. “As we move forward, we will work with all our neighbors to continuously improve the levels of service provided to area residents and revise our current agreements when opportunities arise.”

“If Barrington needs us, all they have to do is make the call and we’ll send the cavalry,” District President Tom Rowan added. “We will provide whatever personnel and apparatus they may need that we have available.”

Starting Jan. 1, the Barrington Fire Department will serve its 5-square-mile area while the district focuses on its 46-square-mile area.

MABAS, a regional mutual aid system formed in 1968, includes more than 1,500 fire departments and districts across Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan and Missouri. MABAS allows firefighter/paramedics to pool resources in situations such as multiple-alarm fires or weather-related disasters that exceed the capabilities of a single department or district.

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Inverness president wants new auto-aid agreement

The Daily Herald has an article featuring the Inverness mayor who wants the Palatine Rural FPD to cover all of Inverness.

Leaders of villages served by the Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District are largely expressing satisfaction with the district’s plans to protect homes and businesses as an independent fire department after Jan. 1.

But Inverness Village President Jack Tatooles is asking for one more thing to feel comfortable. Given the distances to his village from the district’s stations in Lake Barrington and Barrington Hills, Tatooles wants to see a tweaked automatic-aid agreement that would have the Palatine Rural Fire Protection District respond to all calls in Inverness.

“That Pepper Road station (in Lake Barrington) is so far away it might as well be in Wisconsin,” Tatooles said. “I think Palatine Rural can better serve the western side of our town.”

While the Lake Barrington station is about 7 miles from the nearest part of Inverness and the Barrington Hills station just over 5 miles away, Palatine Rural’s station is only 1.5 miles from the west side of the village. Palatine Rural’s own jurisdiction covers the eastern two-thirds of Inverness. And while Palatine Rural already has an automatic-aid agreement with Barrington Countryside, Tatooles believes this agreement should be amended to reflect that the village of Barrington’s own fire station on Route 14 will no longer be affiliated with Barrington Countryside next year.

The fire district serves portions of Inverness, Barrington Hills, Lake Barrington, South Barrington and unincorporated Cook, Lake and McHenry counties.

Palatine Rural Fire Chief Hank Clemmensen said Tatooles’ request sounded reasonable and that the fire district has had a strong relationship with Inverness over the years. “When we do automatic-aid agreements, we want them to be equal in some way,” Clemmensen said. “It’s not fair to my residents to have a lopsided auto-aid agreement.” A fee can help make up the difference where there’s not much opportunity for reciprocation of service. For instance, Palatine Rural pays fees to the villages of Palatine and Rolling Meadows so they can respond automatically to a southeastern area of the district closer to their respective stations.

Though the village of Barrington has proposed an automatic-aid agreement with Barrington Countryside, the fire district’s trustees have expressed their belief that they could be giving more than they’d be getting. The fire district is significantly increasing its staffing from three firefighters at each station per shift to five or six. Trustees also recently agreed to offer jobs to the 19 Barrington firefighters to be laid off at the end of the year at their current union-level salaries.

Both Barrington Hills Village President Martin McLaughlin and South Barrington Village President Paula McCombie expressed satisfaction with the level of service and with the retention of experience in the fire district.

McLaughlin, however, said he would like to learn more about the financial impact of adding to the staff and wonders why the district would even contemplate a referendum to provide firefighter pensions without a significant increase in the district’s population.

thanks Dan

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