Posts Tagged West Suburban Fire/Rescue Alliance

Ballot question to determine Warrenville FPD trustees (more)

Excerpts from the

Voters overwhelmingly approved choosing the three-member board of the Warrenville Fire Protection District.  With all 24 precincts reporting, unofficial vote totals early Wednesday showed that 89 percent of the district’s voters supported the measure, with just 11 percent casting ballots in favor of the status quo.

The DuPage County Board chairman currently nominates district trustees, who are then confirmed by the County Board. Recently, a group of Warrenville-area residents circulated petitions and collected enough signatures to put the measure on the ballot.  Backers of the referendum noted that voters in a dozen or so DuPage County fire districts choose their trustees. Just three districts, including Warrenville, have appointed board members.

Warrenville’s fire district serves almost the entire city, along with a swath of unincorporated areas in Wheaton and Naperville and small pieces of unincorporated Naperville.

During the past several years, DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin has pushed DuPage’s many fire districts to either consolidate or share services to be more efficient. The effort has been part of Cronin’s broader ACT initiative, which seeks accountability, transparency and consolidation from local governments.

Cronin asked Warrenville’s fire district to join the West Suburban Fire/Rescue Alliance to share services and shorten response times. He also encouraged the district to adopt the county’s ethics ordinance and sign an intergovernmental agreement subjecting it to enforcement measures.

Supporters also disputed some of Cronin’s initiatives, noting they would prefer to work with nearby Naperville. Other DuPage fire districts, they said, are just too far away geographically. And they pointed out that the Warrenville fire district has its own ethics ordinance and questioned a county ethics ordinance that would require the district to pay it for any investigations.

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Ballot question to determine Warrenville FPD trustees

Excerpts from the Daily Herald:

A ballot question to determine how Warrenville Fire Protection District trustees get their seats could influence whether the agency participates in future attempts to consolidate fire services in DuPage County.

Voters served by the fire protection district will decide on April 7 if they want trustees on the board overseeing the district to be elected or appointed. Right now, the three members of the panel are appointed by the DuPage County Board Chairman.

“We as citizens have very little input as to who our district trustees would be,” said William Mennell, one of the residents who collected more than 1,600 signatures to get the binding question on the ballot. “The people should be able to pick who is spending their money.” Mennell is the president of the fire protection district board. Still, he stresses that residents — not trustees — are behind the ballot question.

In 2012, a consulting firm hired by the county suggested that DuPage partner with fire protection districts to investigate options for consolidation. Warrenville was one of the districts the firm examined before making its recommendation.

But the consultants found Warrenville to be a financially stable district. Mennell said the district already is providing quality fire protection and ambulance services and doesn’t need to be consolidated.

“Consolidating may help in some cases,” he said. “Our theory here in Warrenville is that bigger is not better.”

But [Board Chairman Dan] Cronin, who recently was lauded by Gov. Bruce Rauner for his consolidation efforts, said voters should ask what’s motivating the group pushing the Warrenville ballot question. According to Cronin, county officials have been trying “to bring transparency and accountability” to the fire protection district in recent years.

“It’s no secret they have really resisted that,” he said.

Cronin said the fire protection district board adopted DuPage’s ethics policy but refused to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with the county that would have made the policy enforceable.

In addition, Cronin said county officials “on numerous occasions” suggested the district join the West Suburban Fire/Rescue Alliance, which has worked to reduce emergency response times and share resources.

“To date, the Warrenville Fire Protection District has expressed no interest whatsoever (in the alliance),” Cronin said. “They just want to have their own little empire.” “It doesn’t matter to me whether or not they (trustees) are appointed or elected,” he said, “just as long as the district is a model of efficiency and safety.”

But Mennell said the district already is working with other fire departments to share equipment and services.

… Kate Perkins — a former fire district trustee who is working to get the ballot question approved — said Warrenville “needs to have a voice” if and when a consolidation plan is proposed. “And we won’t if we have appointed trustees. They’ll answer to Dan Cronin, because he’s the one who hires and fires them.”

thanks Dan and John

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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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