Posts Tagged Rockland FIre Protection District

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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Knollwood Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from the DailyHerald.com:

A debate between homeowners and officials of the Knollwood Fire Department on how to best serve the community’s future needs at a reasonable cost could come to an end Tuesday.

Some officials say it makes sense to merge the Knollwood department with agencies in Lake Bluff, Libertyville, and Lake Forest. Others say merger talk involving the small fire department in unincorporated Lake County should wait until 2019 — after voters are eligible to elect board members to the fire protection district.

For any decision made, whether it’s Lake Forest, Libertyville or Lake Bluff, the current board should wait for board members to be elected, not appointed,” Knollwood Fire Chief Jon Harlow said. “It’s what the community asked for.”

A public meeting regarding merger possibilities is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, at the Gorton Community Center, 400 E. Illinois Road, Lake Forest. A merger vote could take place during the hearing, officials said.

Situated between Shields and Libertyville townships, the Knollwood Fire Department serves an area less than 1 square mile. The department handles about 550 fire calls a year from 668 homes and about 1,800 residents, officials said. The department is controlled by the three-person Rockland Fire Protection District board, which is appointed by the Lake County Board. It has an annual budget of $640,000, officials said. That changes in April 2019 because residents voted overwhelmingly — 363 to 85 — via a referendum to elect board members.

No matter what happens with any merger, the district board will remain intact, said fire district President Dan Rogers. He said the board will serve as oversight for Knollwood residents who pay taxes to the Rockland Fire Protection District. Board members will serve as a paper board only, and be tasked with negotiating service contracts with whatever entity potentially takes over fire services.

“When I was appointed to the (Rockland) board and started to see the cost associated with running a fire protection district, when I started to see the inner workings of it, I started to look at other options because of cost,” Rogers said. “Everyone has been talking about consolidation because of the overhead costs associated with running a fire district.”

The discussions led to proposals from Lake Forest, Libertyville and Lake Bluff. The first proposal calls for Lake Forest to handle half the calls in Knollwood, while Libertyville handles the other half. The cost of fire service in the joint proposal would initially be $450,000 annually. A second proposal calls for Lake Bluff and Knollwood to merge, Rogers said. That would require the merged department to purchase one or two ambulances in the coming years.

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Knollwood Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

Despite offers from neighboring communities to provide fire protection services to the residents of Knollwood, the Rockland Fire Protection District board is stating a preference to maintain its own department. However, questions remain about the future of the RFPD building and the composition of the board.

The RFPD board currently believes neither a combination offer from Lake Forest and Libertyville nor a separate one from Lake Bluff to take over fire protection and emergency services in Knollwood are good options now. Currently, the RFPD provides fire and emergency services to the roughly 600 homes in Knollwood, which is the unincorporated area that is just north and west of Lake Bluff.

This was a decision arrived at by all three RFPD board members at a June 11 meeting and they followed the recommendation of an attorney retained by the board to explore all options.

Lake Forest and Libertyville have offered to take over the services on a long-term basis, but Rogers scoffed at the price tag for the first year of service and expected rise in cost in following years.

At their Tuesday village board meeting, Libertyville trustees voted for an amended proposal of $472,357, down from the original price of just over $530,000.

The Lake Bluff proposal includes the village purchasing a used ambulance and then jointly using paid personnel and volunteers to provide services to Knollwood.

92 percent of the calls from Knollwood are answered by Libertyville’s Atkinson Road station, which is close by, thus such a change may not be necessary.

Discussions with representatives of the board and the two competing groups are expected to continue with revised proposals.

Last year the RFPD received roughly 250 calls for fire and emergency medical services in the RFPD area, which encompasses about 4/5 of a square mile from the Canadian Pacific railroad tracks on the east to Bayonne Avenue to the west and Route 176 to the south and Atkinson Road to the north, including the Sanctuary housing complex.

While the RFPD board is stating a preference to maintain the status quo, their building on Skokie Highway in the southeast corner of the district has an uncertain future. In April, the Illinois Department of Transportation sent a letter to the Lake Country Transportation Department stating the property would have to be acquired to allow for a reconstructed interchange at Routes 41 and 176 in Lake Bluff.

An IDOT spokeswoman though said the land acquisition process is not likely to start before 2023.

Another future factor in the decision making is the composition of the RFPD board as voters moved in 2017 to go to an elected board from one appointed by the Lake County Board chairman. Therefore, new board members may have another outlook on the future.

thanks Dan

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Knollwood Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from jwcdaily.com:

A proposal to form an alliance for firefighting and emergency medical services between the Village of Lake Bluff and Rockland Fire Protection District, also known as Knollwood Fire Department, is in the works between the two governmental bodies.

Lake Bluff Village President Kathy O’Hara outlined the proposal to the Lake Bluff Village Board of Trustees February 12 at village hall while Lake Bluff Fire Chief David Graf simultaneously explained his town’s ideas to the Board of Trustees of the Rockland Fire Protection District.

Lake Bluff initiated discussions by sending a Joint Fire/EMS Concept Proposal to Knollwood February 12. As drafted, the plan maintains the fire protection services and staff of both departments in the first year and provides EMS help after the initial 12 months. Lake Forest provides EMS services to Lake Bluff and Knollwood gets them from Libertyville. As written, the plan saves taxpayers in the two areas approximately $520,000 over the first five years of operation.

Lake Bluff’s offer is not the only one to provide services to Knollwood, an area bounded by Highway 176 on the south, Highway 41 on the east, Talbot Street on the north and just east of Bradley Road on the west near the Tri-State Tollway. Lake Forest and Libertyville made a combined proposal to the Knollwood trustees in December. The Libertyville Village Board of Trustees discussed the idea December 12. The Lake Forest City Council has yet to schedule a debate on the idea. 

O’Hara said she sees the future relationship between Lake Bluff and Knollwood as a partnership where the two departments will be greater together than continuing to function separately. Knollwood residents are already part of the Lake Bluff Park District, Lake Bluff School District 65 and Lake Forest Community High School District 115.

Knollwood voters passed a referendum in April changing the board from one appointed by the Lake County Board chairman to one chosen by the voters. The first election for board members will be in April, 2019.

While Knollwood has some paid personnel, Lake Bluff’s department is all volunteer with 45 members. Lake Bluff’s Master Plan calls for its volunteer department to continue. 

As currently drafted, the departments would begin to share on-premises expenses in the first year while maintaining existing staff. They would also give Lake Forest and Libertyville a 12-month notice of termination of EMS services. They would begin the process of hiring paid on-premises personnel and develop their joint governance model. Plans for the second year would be finalized.

In the second year, the two departments would provide their own paramedic services with an ambulance acquired the first year. Both fire stations would be used to keep response time to a minimum.

By the third year, the two departments would continue to tweak their model. They would look at a possible expansion of services and consider whether any excess assets should be sold.

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Knollwood Fire Department news (more)

From the cityoflakeforest.com:

On December 7, 2017, the City of Lake Forest and the Village of Libertyville presented a joint draft proposal for Fire, Emergency Medical and Fire Prevention Services to the Rockland Fire Protection District (RFPD) that will be considered by the Libertyville Village Board at its December 12, 2017 meeting.  Lake Forest and Libertyville believe the proposal is a comprehensive and cost-effective partnership, providing residents of the RFPD with the long-term benefits of full-time services from two professional fire departments, more efficient initial emergency response forces and more effective back-up support. 

The proposal includes the employment opportunity for existing volunteer personnel to continue to service the community and to train with other members of the Lake Forest Fire Department, as well as possibly using, repurposing or selling existing fire apparatus, equipment and facilities, all benefiting RFPD taxpayers.

Lake Forest and Libertyville firefighters and paramedics have worked side by side with the dedicated volunteers of the RFPD for many years.  The City of Lake Forest and the Village of Libertyville have provided or are now providing emergency services to the District. 

The communities initiated discussions in 2012 on improving efficiencies and the economic benefits associated with joining forces.   Conversations have continued, and earlier this year, the RFPD Board requested a proposal from both Libertyville and Lake Forest.  After thoughtful consideration, both municipalities concluded that by working together, a plan could be developed that focuses on high-quality, full-time services from their two professional fire departments providing: 1) enhanced emergency and fire response and 2) improved cost-effectiveness to all residents of the District.

The City of Lake Forest and the Village of Libertyville believe this proposal meets the important goals of enhancing services, reducing costs and respecting the values and traditions of the RFPD. 

 

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Knollwood Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

The board governing the Knollwood Fire Department has requested proposals from both Lake Forest and Libertyville to take over firefighting and ambulance services.

The city of Lake Forest plans to assemble a proposal over the next 90 days and will then submit it to the Rockland Fire Protection District Board, which oversees Knollwood Fire Department, by the end of 2017. The Rockland Fire Protection District covers the unincorporated Knollwood neighborhood as well as a portion of Lake Bluff.

The city does have a few guidelines for its proposal. They stipulate that supplying services to Knollwood can’t reduce service to Lake Forest, the deal must generate long-term savings and it must integrate full-time, paid-on-call, and volunteer firefighters.

At an Aug. 8 meeting, Mayor Terry Weppler of Libertyville said a meeting of the town’s police and fire committee would be scheduled to consider whether to submit a proposal.

Dan Rogers, one of three trustees on the Rockland Fire Protection District Board, said the request for proposals is an effort to be fiscally responsible.

“Our (property tax) levy is about $635,000 for 7/8 of a square mile for fire and ambulance service,” Rogers said. “Several months ago we got proposals from Libertyville. They came back with a preliminary offer to take over all services for $380,000.”

Karl Snoblin, also a trustee for the fire protection district, sees things differently.

“There is no immediate threat,” Snoblin said, adding that the district has had a balanced budget for the last three years. “We have to work with our neighbors but to get rid of equipment and employees doesn’t seem to be necessary.”

In April, Knollwood voters approved a referendum that would allow them to elect trustees to the district’s board. That referendum takes effect in 2019. Currently, trustees are appointed by the Lake County Board.

Snoblin would like to hold off on any decisions on outsourcing fire and ambulance services.

“I believe it is inappropriate for this board to pursue outsourcing the department,” Snoblin said. “This is a caretaker board. There is nothing driving us to do this in the 22 months. It should be for the elected board to pursue.”

Lake Forest City Manager Bob Kiely expressed a similar opinion about cultural identity during an Aug. 7 city council meeting. He pointed out that Knollwood is unincorporated and all services besides fire – including law enforcement and public works – are supplied by Lake County.

While Rogers said the process is only in the research stage of it, Ed Whitehead is concerned that if the present board approves outsourcing fire and ambulance service, that decision would be irrevocable. Whitehead served on the fire protection board from 2010 to 2016.

“Our building gets sold, all our equipment gets sold,” Whitehead said. “We don’t have a fallback position at that point.”

thanks Dan

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Knollwood Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from abc7chicago.com:

A small North Shore fire department is dealing with the possibility of disbanding to cut costs.

“We can’t just keep giving, giving, giving as taxpayers. I live in Knollwood and I pay more in taxes than my brother in incorporated Lake Forest,” said David Fontana, resident.

The Rockland Fire Protection District (RFPD) covers less than one square mile, servicing about 2,000 residents in Knollwood and a subdivision in Lake Bluff. Every year, $650,000 of taxpayer money is used to run the Knollwood Fire Department, the only firehouse in the Rockland Fire Protection District. John Harlow is its chief.

“Probably around 600 calls a year,” he said. Half of those calls are backup calls for surrounding communities, each call costing more than $1,000.

“We don’t receive compensation for that,” said Robert Grum, RFPD trustee. “We have reached out to all of our neighboring communities, Lake Forest, Libertyville, someone that might be interested in a proposal to see if we are truly getting the best bang for the buck,” he said.

“We all rely on each other. If you remove this department from the response continuum it’s kind of a domino effect,” Harlow said.

Knollwood is a volunteer department but they do pay three people per shift to be at the firehouse in case there is a call.

Residents packed the firehouse in January to hear a proposal from Libertyville about taking over firefighting services for Knollwood.

“They did come to us with a proposal to take over all services. That would mean that the fire department would be shut down, we would vacate the building, we would sell the equipment and all of the members would go away,” said Karl Snoblin, RFPD President and Trustee.

That plan could save Knollwood taxpayers about $300,000 a year. Despite possible savings, “Don’t Close Knollwood Fire” signs are scattered around town.

“The whole fire department issue is very emotionally charged around here, and it shouldn’t be,” Dan Rogers, RFPD trustee, said.

If a neighboring town takes over fire service, some said they would welcome a more professional department.

“I certainly think a full-time department could possibly be a better situation than a volunteer department,” said Grum.

“Minutes count when someone’s not breathing. It’s a necessity to keep this department in place to get those paramedics there quickly,” argued Harlow.

Libertyville already provides ambulance service for Knollwood but no decision has been made about whether fire services will also be consolidated.

thanks Dan

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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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