Posts Tagged Libertyville Fire Chief Rich Carani

Knollwood Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

Fire protection and emergency services for residents of the Rockland Fire Protection District are now officially the responsibility of Lake Forest and Libertyville, following a failed attempt by supporters of the Knollwood Fire Department to prevent the new agreement from going into effect.

Earlier this month, the towns of Lake Forest and Libertyville began providing the fire and emergency services to residents of RFPD through an intergovernmental agreement with the district and the municipalities and the Libertyville Fire Protection District. Previously, the residents of RFPD, which includes the unincorporated area of Knollwood and the Sanctuary housing complex in Lake Bluff, received those services from the Knollwood Fire Department. Under the new arrangement, Libertyville will oversee the northern half of the RFPD, Lake Forest the southern half.

On Sept. 27, the Friends of Knollwood Fire Department filed a temporary restraining order in Lake County Circuit Court, hoping to stop the intergovernmental agreement from going into effect, however Judge Margaret Marcouiller denied the temporary restraining order, stating there was no likelihood of success on the merits. On Oct. 11, the case was continued to Thursday.

For now, the Knollwood Fire Department has stopped operations. In the first week of the new arrangement, Lake Forest Fire Chief Peter Siebert reported one call came in from the RFPD and Libertyville Fire Chief Rich Carani said they had two.

Lake Forest anticipates responding to about 120 calls per year from the RFPD, and Libertyville is expecting approximately the same amount.

 

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Knollwood Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

The Rockland Fire Protection District board has decided to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with Lake Forest and Libertyville to provide fire protection and emergency medical services to the district’s residents. On Aug. 31, the RFPD board voted 2-1 to move into the agreement.

Starting Oct. 1, Libertyville may be providing fire protection and emergency medical services to the northern of the half of the district which includes the unincorporated area of Knollwood and the Sanctuary housing complex in Lake Bluff and Lake Forest would be responsible for the southern portion of the district.

Currently Libertyville provides ambulance service to RFPD residents, but fire protection and emergency medical services are the responsibility of the Knollwood Fire Department.

Under the agreement, the RFPD would pay a total of $262,500 – split between Lake Forest and Libertyville – on a prorated, quarterly basis until April 30, 2019. From May 1, 2019 to April 30, 2020, the quarterly charge will be $450,000 – split between the two communities and then increases up to $496,000 for the next 12-month period.

For the rest of the agreement, which slated to run through September 2038, the annual increase would be tied into changes in the Consumer Price Index.

“Looking at it in terms of a long-term solution for providing services, I think it is a good choice at this time,” said RFPD board member Bob Grum said at the Aug. 31 meeting Dan Rogers, the RFPD president believes this deal is better for the approximately 1,700 residents within the RFPD. He said RFPD now spends $640,000 per year on the services.

However, RFPD board member Karl Snoblin dissented. “I find it unacceptable,” Snoblin said. “It binds the district to make set payments regardless of any other factors such as poor quality service, a decrease in the size of the district or declining district revenues.”

If the agreement goes into place, it could mean the end of the Knollwood Fire Department, a hybrid group of roughly 40 volunteers and paid-per-shift employees.

Jon Harlow, the Knollwood Fire Department chief, does not believe the service will be as good with the response teams coming from the two nearby larger municipalities. “There are numerous times when our department is backing up Lake Forest and Libertyville where we have been first in on incidents in their communities,” Harlow said. “This will have a domino effect: it will have an increase in response times with less personnel.”

The RFPD vote capped off a tumultuous few days that started on Aug. 21 when the RFPD board met at Lake Forest’s Gorton Community Center and, following approximately 2.5 hours of testimony, the board voted to table consideration of the plan. Then the issue was pushed back again until Aug. 31. In the meantime, a group of Knollwood residents known as the Friends of Knollwood Fire, which supports the Knollwood Fire Department, filed a lawsuit with the Lake County Circuit Court. After previously indicating they would withdraw the lawsuit, they now plan to proceed.

“We are looking at all laws pertaining to fire districts and fire service. Now that they have done something which is voting to approve that contract so we have very specific things to look for,” said Ed Whitehead, a Friends of Knollwood Fire spokesman.

Also needing to agree to the arrangement is the Libertyville Fire Protection District because of an existing relationship where Libertyville provides fire and ambulance service to that area. The LFPD includes portions of Mettawa, Green Oaks and other segments of Libertyville Township. It remains unclear when the LFPD would vote on the agreement. Officials with LFPD did not return calls seeking comment.

thanks Dennis

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Knollwood Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from the DailyHerald.com:

Libertyville and Lake Forest will absorb the Knollwood Fire Department and begin providing services within its jurisdiction Oct. 1. Knollwood is a 50-member all volunteer department serving an area of less than 1 square mile situated between Shields and Libertyville townships. It includes 668 homes, about 1,800 residents, and responds to about 535 emergency calls annually.

For the past two years, the three-person Rockland Fire Protection District board, which is the fire department’s governing and taxing body, has discussed other ways of providing service with neighboring departments.

“Basically, the Rockland Fire Protection District will become a paper district and they’ll contract their services with Libertyville and Lake Forest,” which will split the area geographically, according to Libertyville Fire Chief Rich Carani. Nothing will change in terms of manpower or equipment for Libertyville, but Lake Forest will be interviewing Knollwood firefighters for paid on premises positions.

On Tuesday, the Libertyville village board approved a 20-year intergovernmental pact for fire and EMS services to Knollwood. The village has been providing ambulance service since May 2015. Lake Forest approved the agreement Sept. 4 and the Libertyville Fire Protection District board did so on Monday. That district is party to the agreement because it owns the main station for response.

Last December, the communities tendered a joint proposal from Libertyville and Lake Forest. On Aug. 31, the Rockland board approved the agreement but asked the annual contract amount be revised from $472,537 to $450,000, which was done. The amount will be split by Lake Forest and Libertyville. It will increase to $496,000 on May 1, 2020. The Libertyville Fire Protection District will receive 22.5 percent of Libertyville’s share.

Rockland’s annual budget had been about $640,000.

thanks Dan and Keith

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Mundelein Fire Department news

Excerpts from the DailyHerald.com:

The Mundelein village board went ahead with the sale of one of the department’s ladder trucks despite criticism from residents and even a former fire chief.

People packed Monday night’s village board meeting to oppose the ladder truck sale as well as plans to restructure the fire department’s command staff. Critics included former Fire Chief Tim Sashko, who lives in Mundelein and spoke at length about the potential hazards of the two proposals.

Sashko was especially upset about the plan to sell the ladder truck to a department in Kentucky for $360,000. Although it’s rarely used, Sashko said the truck is an important piece of equipment that contains much more potentially lifesaving gear than just a tall ladder.

Dumping the truck means Mundelein firefighters will have to rely on neighboring departments in Wauconda or Libertyville to send their ladder trucks to an emergency in Mundelein, Sashko said, and the extra travel time could cost lives.

As for the proposed plan to reduce the number of lieutenants in the department to four from six, Sashko said the department is understaffed and stressed the need for a strong command staff.

Brett Clark, a Mundelein firefighter who’s the president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 4786, called the proposed staffing change dangerous and ill-advised.

Village officials have said eliminating lieutenant positions will save the village money when it comes to salary and overtime costs.

Clark called the potential savings a joke.

“We do not feel safe,” said Clark, whose union has filed an unfair labor practice complaint over the issue.

In response, Mayor Steve Lentz blasted Clark’s position as a union leader. “When a union president starts talking about safety, take your hand, put it on your wallet and hold tight. Because that’s what they’re after,” Lentz said. Lentz later apologized for the comment.

The village board hadn’t yet voted on the command staff restructuring late Monday night.

thanks Scott

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Mundelein and Libertyville Fire Department news

Excerpts from the DailyHerald.com:

Mundelein and Libertyville will share a tower ladder in what officials says is a common-sense way to improve efficiency and lower costs for taxpayers in both towns.

Under terms of an agreement approved Monday by the Mundelein village board and expected to be accepted in Libertyville, the Libertyville tower ladder would be available to Mundelein for an annual fee that will offset maintenance and future replacement costs.

Mundelein’s tower ladder is not past its prime and doesn’t need replacement, but the move will provide the department and village with options, according to Deputy Chief Chief Bill Lark.

The agreement depends on Mundelein’s ability to sell, lease, or trade their ladder truck.

Under terms of the five-year pact, Mundelein would pay $14,000 for the first year with an annual increase of 3 percent thereafter. Libertyville’s truck and trained personnel would be needed about five times a year. The villages provide automatic mutual aid for structure fires through a separate 2015 agreement.

Libertyville Fire Chief Rich Carani said the villages have been talking about a number of options for about two years in an era of tight budgets and desire to make tax dollars stretch.

 Ladder trucks have fairly long life spans because they don’t drive as many miles as engines. But a new one costs $1.3 million or more.

“When looking at operational use versus cost, fuel, and associated maintenance to keep a vehicle like this operational, it makes more sense to share these types of assets,” said Eric Guenther, Mundelein’s public safety director.

Libertyville is only 2 miles farther from the Mundelein’s primary high-rise, most commercial properties and can access the east side of the village without being blocked by railroad tracks.

Libertyville’s truck is 18 years old and on a 25-year rotation to be replaced. But the village is considering refurbishing it to add up to 10 years to its life at a considerably lower cost than buying new.

thanks Ron

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Knollwood Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

More than 100 people attended a Monday meeting to hear about a proposal for Libertyville to take over fire services for the Knollwood Fire Department.

“We feel there is capacity at Station 3 to provide services,” said Libertyville Fire Chief Rich Carani at the Knollwood Fire Station, 14 N. Skokie Highway, Lake Bluff. “There’s equipment there and there’s not a lot of calls, so it’s underutilized.”

In 2016, the Libertyville Fire Department received a total of 4,278 calls. Of those, Carani said, 1,716 were handled by Station 1, 1,802 by Station 2 and 766 by Station 3 at 13415 Atkinson Road, which is adjacent to the area covered by Knollwood Fire Department, which is just shy of a square mile.

Carani said the distance to calls would be up to 1.5 miles or about 3.2 minutes – assuming no delays due to traffic. Service, said Carani, would cost 30 percent less than that incurred by the Knollwood Fire Department and would be the same cost as paid by Libertyville residents. Specifically, the Rockland Fire Protection District, which is the taxing body for the Knollwood Fire Department, levies $620,000 and Libertyville would charge $380,000.

Station 3 is staffed by three firefighter-paramedics 24 hours a day, Carani said in response to questions from attendees. If firefighter-paramedics are away on another call – which he said happens 28 percent of the time – firefighter-paramedics would respond from one of the other two stations, which would increase response times.

Knollwood residents would not be responsible for existing pension obligations of Libertyville firefighters if an agreement is signed, said Brian O’Connor, attorney for the Rockland Fire Protection District.

The proposal by Libertyville is in the early stages, said O’Connor. Karl Snoblin, chairman of the board of trustees of the Rockland Fire Protection District, said it had also reaching out to Lake Forest, which is currently working on a proposal to take over fire services for Knollwood.

If another fire department provides fire services for Knollwood, Trustee Dan Rogers said it would be a long-term contract. He suggested 50 years with renewal scheduled for 40 years.

Residents questioned how Green Oaks Senior Living, scheduled to open at 14595 W. Rockland Road this fall would impact call volume at Station 3. Green Oaks will have 200 units, according to its website. Carani said that could mean an additional 200 calls per year for Station 3.

Libertyville has handled ambulance services for Knollwood the last two years – before that Lake Forest was responsible – and is currently in negotiations with Knollwood to renew that contract for five years.

Knollwood had a population of 1,613 in 2015 with 642 housing units, according to the American Community Survey of the U.S. Census. It has an all-volunteer fire department of about 50 people.

The proposal by Libertyville comes in a time of increasing costs for many North Shore fire departments. The city of Lake Forest, for example, is concerned about how to pay increasing pension costs for firefighters required by the state of Illinois and has recently begun discussion with neighboring municipalities on some form of sharing firefighting services.

In related news, a referendum will be on the April ballot asking voters in the Rockland Fire Protection District if the three trustees should be elected by voters rather than appointed by the Lake County Board.

thanks Dennis

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Knollwood Fire Department news

Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

Trustees from the Rockland Fire Protection Board – which oversees the Knollwood Fire Department – met with Libertyville officials to hear a proposal from the department about taking over firefighting services, according to Libertyville Fire Chief Rich Carani. The Libertyville Fire Department has provided ambulance service to Knollwood for the last two years.

The proposal will likely be discussed at the Jan. 9 meeting of the Rockland Fire Protection District board scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Knollwood Fire Station, 14 Skokie Highway, Lake Bluff.

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Libertyville FD promotions and awards

Excerpts from the DailyHerald.com:

Two Libertyville firefighters who will be promoted to top spots next week share more than a long tenure on the department.

Mike Pakosta, is being promoted to deputy chief, and Mike Hall will be promoted to lieutenant taking Pakosta’s place on the same shift. They are hometown guys and childhood friends who met when they were 9 years old.

In 2002, Pakosta began his tenure in Libertyville. He was promoted to lieutenant in 2014 and will become the first deputy chief the department has had in about 25 years, as the position has been vacant due to budget considerations.

The Libertyville fire department has 41 full-time employees and six or seven of them are Libertyville natives, according to Chief Rich Carani.

Also Tuesday, firefighters Mike Stanek, Tom Pitel, Mike Grempka, Justin Haedt, Andrew Yarc and Jered Woodward will be recognized for an award sponsored by Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital recognizing team efforts that save lives.

thanks Dan

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Libertyville FD to hire deputy chief

Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

In anticipation of a complicated first state budget under Gov. Bruce Rauner, Libertyville trustees in April postponed several financial decisions. Six months later, they are no closer to understanding Springfield but chose to finally act on a few needs.

Libertyville deferred hiring a new deputy fire chief, expanding its salt storage silo, paying for a survey of downtown buildings for its historic preservation commission and reducing the electric utility tax, among others.

At the time, Rauner was proposing a two-year freeze on property taxes and Illinois permanently keeping half of the municipal income tax. Finance Director Patricia Wesolowski, at the time, calculated the loss of income tax at $1 million per year and a combined $600,000 in lost property taxes increases over two years.

Both proposals appear to have lost traction, but a new dilemma has arisen. As of a Nov. 10, according to Wesolowski, Illinois is withholding about $660,000 in other taxes. Broken down, Wesolowski said the total consists of $440,000 in 911 fees, $150,000 in gasoline sales tax and $70,000 in Libertyville’s portion of the “use tax,” (paid on items, most notably cars, bought elsewhere for use inside Illinois).

Illinois was supposed to pass a state budget by July 1, but Rauner refuses to approve an unbalanced budget and resolving the proposed deficit has seen equally little comprise by all sides. As a result, Illinois has stopped paying a lot of its bills and stopped redirecting tax money it collects on behalf of other governments.

Libertyville in February signed a two-year contract to provide fire services to the unincorporated area of Knollwood, located along Route 176 just east of Interstate 94. Libertyville’s fire department eliminated a deputy chief job a few years ago after a retirement. Filling that job would cost about $150,000 in salary and benefits, and the person would do work for both Knollwood and Libertyville.

The contract to cover Knollwood cites $100,000 annual payments, meaning Libertyville would pay $50,000. The contract anticipated 100 calls for service per year, although Libertyville Fire Chief Rich Carani said they’ve gotten 102 between February and early November.

Trustees agreed to fill the position even though they’re still uneasy regarding what revenue will and won’t being come to Libertyville via Springfield.

“Chief Carani is stretched pretty thin, and that’s not healthy for an organization,” Village Trustee Todd Gaines said.

Since 2009, Libertyville replenished its reserve through new taxes and a return of sales tax revenue and now has $4.2 million above the recommended rainy day savings amount. Trustees in April considered using part of that $4.2 million to repay construction debt early and putting another portion toward police and fire pensions, which are significantly underfunded after new laws increased benefits and new studies indicated retirees are living longer.

That decision was also postponed, and on Nov. 10 trustees agreed to continue waiting because the money might be needed to cover funds Illinois garnishes or indefinitely stops redirecting.

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