Posts Tagged DuPage County Fire Districts should consolidate according to a consultant

Regional fire service concept discussed in DuPage County

The Daily Herald has an article that talks about

Citing rising costs associated with responding to emergencies, a group of mayors and fire chiefs is calling on firefighting agencies in DuPage County to voluntarily work together to save money and improve service.

The DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference Fire Services Stakeholders group has drafted a proposal to have fire departments and fire protection districts coordinate services through a quadrant system. If the plan becomes a reality, DuPage would be divided into four parts with borders defined by I-88 and I-355. The agencies within each quadrant would be encouraged to share resources, engage in group purchasing practices, share training resources and standardize fire and operational guidelines, officials said.

“We are trying to get a system for cooperation that will keep prices down, keep costs down and maintain the level of efficiency and service that we already have,” said county board member Gary Grasso, co-chairman of the fire services stakeholders group.

He said the regional fire service concept was developed by the group over a four-year period. The panel initially explored the possibility of creating a countywide fire department. “Even in the land of Chicago and thinking big, that was probably too much to take on,” Grasso said.

Nevertheless, he said, something must be done because the cost of pensions, equipment and other expenses continue to rise.

County board member Grant Eckhoff, who has long sought consolidation of fire districts and departments, said agencies need to work together because of budget challenges. “This whole thing is driven by economics,” Eckhoff said. “We’re trying to get ahead of the curve and present an opportunity for people to come together to save costs.”

Grasso said a quadrant system can work in DuPage because the county has an abundance of fire stations, equipment and well-trained firefighters. Of course, the idea won’t happen unless agencies agree to participate.

“This is voluntary,” Grasso said. “Nobody is mandating anything. Even if we had the authority — which we do not — this is for the professionals to drive the collaboration, cooperation and consolidation.”

Officials said the next step is to present the idea to the fire chiefs, municipalities, fire protection districts, unions and others.

Grasso pointed out that some agencies already have a similar arrangement. The West Suburban Fire/Rescue Alliance, which includes the Wheaton Fire Department and the Carol Stream, West Chicago and Winfield fire protection districts, has worked to reduce emergency response times and share resources.

thanks Dan

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Consultant urges consolidation among DuPage County Fire Districts

The Chicago Tribune has an article about a consultant’s recommendation that several DuPage County fire districts and municipal fire departments should consolidate services.

Fire departments in DuPage County should consider consolidating or sharing services as a way to save taxpayer money, a consultant recommended today.

The recommendation was made by the firm Crowe Horwarth in the latest round of audits of DuPage County agencies whose members are appointed by the County Board chairman.

But Crowe Howarth expanded its reach on the topic of fire district consolidation to include not only the county-appointed districts but all fire departments in the county, including those operated by municipalities.

“Consolidation, shared services, and best practices discussions should include all districts and municipalities providing fire protection service within the county,” the audit report says. “The majority of these bodies were not within the scope of this (audit); however, significant county-wide savings can be achieved through such efforts, and further study is necessary.”

County Board member Grant Eckhoff, R-Wheaton, has spent three years pressing for consolidation of the county’s fire protection districts.

“There is too much government,” Eckhoff said. “We simply cannot continue to afford the services we have at the same taxes, and if we don’t find better ways to deliver local, county and state services, taxes are going to go up.”

Cronin called the fire districts “one of our best opportunities to achieve consolidation at the local level.”

Of the nine districts whose members are appointed by the County Board chairman, six are “paper” districts with no infrastructure that instead collect property taxes and contract with neighboring fire departments for fire protection and emergency medical services.

Many serve unincorporated areas.

The entire article which also looks into the DuPage Airport Authority and DuPage Emergency Telephone System Board can be found HERE.

thanks Chris

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