Archive for March 23rd, 2017

Bartlett Fire Protection District news (more)

Excerpts from the

Bartlett Fire Protection District officials are hoping voters approve a referendum question for a tax increase April 4.

“We’re not asking to build another fire station or to hire more people,” Fire Chief Michael Falese said. “It’s to maintain our three fire stations and the current service level with run volume we have right now.”

Falese spoke to about 25 residents at a public meeting Monday night at Fire Station 1.

The fire district has been cutting corners for the past five years to the point that it can no longer sustain its service level without more revenue.

The proposed referendum will add $33 per $100,000 of assessed valuation to a home in the Cook County portion of Bartlett and $42 for those in the DuPage County part of the village. Officials confirmed Tuesday that the median home value in Bartlett is roughly $262,000, so the proposed annual tax increases for the average household would be $86 in Cook and $110 in DuPage.

The last time the fire district asked for a tax increase was more than a decade ago. Since then, overhead costs for supplies, equipment and fire apparatus have gone up, the population has increased by more than 25 percent and fire alarm costs have risen by at least 16 percent.

The fire district shared a document that enumerated 117 line items of financial efficiencies it has implemented, including searching for better prices, changing types of products and their methods of use, eliminating certain items, extending life spans of equipment, using resources from neighboring agencies, and numerous other cost-cutting measures concerning vehicles, facilities, and ambulance services.

“We’ve explored all our options,” Falese said. “Our water tanker truck has a rusted frame rail structure, but it’s still certified for use. We’re facing a $50,000 repair for a vehicle that’s worth about $27,000, and a replacement could cost $400,000.”

The Bartlett Fire Protection District serves about 52,000 residents and businesses, and 20 percent of its coverage territory lies outside village borders.

The district’s three fire stations are staffed by 45 full-time firefighter-paramedics, 15 part-time firefighter emergency medical technicians and six contract firefighter-paramedics.

Due to budgetary concerns, the assistant fire chief and one firefighter position are vacant. The fire district funding stands at $6.6 million from property taxes and $1.3 million from ambulance service reimbursement.

Fire district board president Jim McCarthy assured residents that the department was being a responsible steward of taxpayer money.

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North Riverside Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

The president of North Riverside Firefighters Union Local 2714 announced a vote of no confidence in Fire Chief Brian Basek during a blistering and, at times, personal denouncement at the end of the village board’s March 20 meeting, and which appeared timed to inflict maximum political damage and embarrassment to Mayor Hubert Hermanek just two weeks before the April 4 election.

In a council chamber packed to overflowing with supporters of both union firefighters and the village’s administration, union President Chris Kribales said members cast unanimous no confidence votes and read a two-page prepared statement blasting Basek’s “inability to provide sound leadership and effectively manage the affairs of this fire department.”

Basek, a full-time North Riverside firefighter for 32 years and chief since 2013, announced his retirement last year and intended on walking away from the job at the end of November 2016.

He agreed to stay on through the election as a favor to Hermanek, since candidates for the job were leery of taking a new job with a mayoral election just over the horizon.

The chief sat silently through Kribales three-minute statement, during which the union president criticized him for “flagrant apathy for public safety,” “orders to use antiquated apparatus and equipment” while new equipment sat idle, “intentionally misinterpret[ing] the labor agreement, and “micromanag[ing] the day-to-day operations of his command staff.”

“This undereducated, underqualified mayoral appointee conveys an arrogance and ignorance dangerous to his position by not allowing positive, proactive decisions necessary for this department to move confidently forward,” said Kribales to the applause of his supporters.

In a phone interview after the meeting, Basek told the Landmark, “I don’t want to dignify Mr. Kribales’ remarks with a response.”

Hermanek responded at the meeting to the no-confidence announcement by rattling off a list of accomplishments, from setting department policies to securing a grant for a new fire engine, that lasted six minutes. At the conclusion of Hermanek’s remarks, many in the audience along with all of the members of the village board, responded with a standing ovation in support of the fire chief.

While the fire chief didn’t want to respond to the vote of no confidence, Hermanek called the union president’s statement “embarrassing, disgusting and uncalled for.”

The mayor also said it was an election stunt near the climax of a campaign where administration three-year effort to privatize the fire department have drawn clear battle lines.

Kribales told the Landmark that firefighters took the no-confidence vote about a month ago. Basek and Hermanek said no one from the fire department mentioned anything to them about the vote in the past month.

Trustee H. Bob Demopoulos, who stood to applaud after the mayor’s March 20 remarks, is running against Hermanek for mayor and has made the fire department his number one issue for the past two municipal elections.

In 2015, Demopoulos was re-elected trustee, leading a slate of candidates calling itself Save Our Firefighters.

Since 2013, he has supported the fire union’s proposal for the village to drop its longtime private paramedic service and use part-timers to man ambulances while union firefighters, most of whom are not cross-trained, get paramedic certification. Demopoulos and the union want the department to be staffed only by union firefighter/paramedics and Demopoulos has embraced the union’s call for additional staffing.

Paramedic Services of Illinois, the village’s paramedic service for more than three decades, has contributed $8,885 to the VIP Party, of which Hermanek and every village trustee with the exception of Demopoulos is a member. Their last contribution was for $1,500 on Feb. 14.

While state campaign contribution records don’t indicate any large donors to Demopoulos’ campaign to be from individuals or groups associated with firefighters, past Demopoulos campaigns drew financial support from local and out-of-town firefighters.

In 2015, the biggest contributors to Save Our Firefighters were a pair of Berwyn firefighters, which each gave $1,000. The campaign also received donations from the Berwyn Firefighters Union ($250), the Cicero Firefighters Union ($250) and a veteran North Riverside firefighter ($200).

thanks Dan

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Joliet Fire Department news

From the

Joliet City Manager James D. Hock announces the appointment of Gregory Blaskey as the new deputy fire chief.
Deputy Chief Blaskey is a lifelong resident of Joliet and attended Joliet West High School and Joliet Junior College. This month marks his 30-year anniversary with the Joliet Fire Department. He has held the ranks of firefighter, paramedic, apparatus operator, lieutenant, and captain in addition to being the past deputy director of the Joliet Emergency Management Agency. Deputy Chief Blaskey has two sons who serve in public safety as police officers.
Joliet Fire Chief Joe Formhals stated, “There were five very qualified internal candidates who applied for the position of deputy fire chief and were interviewed by the Selection Committee. Deputy Chief Blaskey brings with him many years of experience handling labor management issues, and he is also well versed in Emergency Management. I welcome him to our team and know he will do an outstanding job.”

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As seen around … Leyden Township

This from Josh Boyajian:

Leyden Engine 131 – 1998 HME 1871-S/3D 1500/750

Leyden FPD Engine 131 - 1998 HME 1871-S/3D 1500/750

Leyden Township FPD Engine 131 – 1998 HME 1871-S/3D 1500/750. Josh Boyajian photo

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