The Naperville Sun had a recent article about the recent discussions on regional consolidation of fire protection services and the possible impact on the City of Naperville.

The DuPage County task force studying the possibility of consolidating firefighting services throughout the county has raised concerns about local fire stations closing to make service more efficient. However, at this point, it’s not likely to happen in Naperville.

[Naperville Fire Chief Mark] Puknaitis is part of the group that includes the DuPage Fire Chiefs Association, two members of the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference and DuPage County Board member Gary Grasso (R-Burr Ridge) looking at how fire departments can consolidate some services to save money.

Last week, Grasso unveiled a working plan for a quadrant system, which divided the county into four sections. Naperville would be in the southwest quadrant along with s large section of Lisle.

The group’s effort is part of a broader conversation DuPage officials have been having for the last several years about strategies for improving fire protection services and making them more cost efficient. Puknaitis said that when it comes to costs, Naperville’s taxpayers are faring pretty well. He gave his own home as an example, saying that he only paid $100 per year on his property tax bill for fire protection.

Puknaitis said that Naperville property taxpayers benefitted from the fact that fire service is funded partially by revenue sources other than property taxes, such as the city’s sales tax. Many other fire protection districts are actually separate taxing bodies, limited in revenue to what they can levy in property taxes. He cited the nearby Lisle-Woodridge and Plainfield fire prevention districts, both separate taxing bodies.

Although no one on the task force has mentioned the possibility of actual consolidation of taxing bodies, the quadrant proposal is in its early stages and consolidating services of some sort might require agreements between different districts.

Puknaitis does see merit in the quadrant system and some sort of shared service between districts, including purchasing equipment, a significant capital expense for fire prevention districts. He said that new arrangements might be made between them to make response times quicker by using a neighboring fire protection district if it is actually closer to the location of a call.

Naperville accounts for about 20 percent of DuPage County’s calls for fire response and EMS, and it’s a function that has seen changes in recent history. Where once a typical local fire department’s responsibilities were predominantly calls for structure fires, modern fire departments are generally a diversified service.

Naperville averages 25 to 30 calls per year for significant structure fires but 11,000 to 12,000 for other calls, many for emergency medical services, activated fire alarms or smaller fire incidents.

Puknaitis feels that the entire county will be able to make fire protection better and more cost-efficient without closing any stations in Naperville.

thanks Dan