Archive for December 24th, 2017

Elgin Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from an opinion piece at

Elgin City Councilman Rich Dunne, a former fire marshall, earlier this month argued against a proposed cut of $700,000 from the fire department budget. While he lost that vote 7-2, the mayor agreed that more discussion is needed on how to fund the department.

The cut, which would not involve the layoff of any firefighters but would come from overtime, was necessary, the mayor said, and part of an effort to realign the staffing of our fire department to meet the current needs of the community, which show that over 80 percent of our calls for service are now for ambulances.

“The changes in staffing are consistent with the results of the recent community survey and the desire for prompt ambulance service. The residents should not see a significant reduction in service,” he said.

The city council’s decision to go with the reduction of overtime is in keeping with the need to cut expenses for the city. Yet, the mayor is asking for further discussion about fire department funding, saying the cut is not a good fix.

“We will continue to meet the needs of the community in the future by providing state of the art equipment, training and adequate staffing to make certain our residents receive the highest quality service available,’ the mayor said.

The concerns expressed by Dunne are valid. With the firefighters’ contract ending Dec. 31, there’s a need for more consideration of the issues.

It will be important for the city council to come up with a plan that will address all funding issues of the fire department that do not negatively affect the safety of residents. It is imperative that public discussions take place to insure the best possible fire protection services in Elgin.

thanks Dan

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Working fire in Chicago, 12-24-17

This from Eric Haak:

Here are a few quick images from an alley garage fire at 5955 S. Throop this morning (12/24). Engine 84 used their deck gun which knocked most of it out. A line was then stretched to mop up. Whole thing was done in minutes. Happy Holidays too all and especially to those who have to work the next couple of days away from family.

alley garage destroyed by fire

Eric Haak photo

Chicago FD Engine 84

Eric Haak photo

firefighters with hose line and smoke

Eric Haak photo

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Bartlett Fire Protection District news (more)

Excerpts from the

Bartlett Fire Protection District trustees Wednesday approved a March 20 referendum asking voters for a 21 percent increase to the district’s own property tax levy — expected to raise the average homeowner’s annual payment to the district from $469 to $569.

Officials expressed concern that voters would be confused by the 21 percent stated in the question, and not recognize it in the context of their overall tax bill. In fact, less than 6 cents of property owners’ tax bills go to the fire protection district and voter approval of the levy increase would increase that only to 7 cents.

The increase is aimed at keeping services at their current level and avoid specific staffing cuts Fire Chief Michael Falese recommended after voters rejected a similar request last April.

Falese said the district’s calls are increasing annually — up to about 4,000 per year — but its tax revenue has increased only 3 percent over the past eight years.

The requested tax increase was calculated to cost the average homeowner of the district less than $8.30 per month. Though Cook and DuPage counties calculate property taxes slightly differently, the impact estimate was based on the home values in the fire district as a whole, Falese said.

Last summer, the chief shared his recommendations with the trustees on how to keep services affordable if voters don’t allow the levy to be increased beyond the restrictions of the tax cap. They include reducing the number of firefighters per shift from 14 to 11 and closing one of the district’s three stations on a rotating basis throughout the year.

The three staff members per shift who would be cut are the one paid-on-premises firefighter and two private contractors who provide a lower-cost supplement to the 10 union employees and the battalion chief.

Because the district’s three engines and two ambulances require a specific number of people, the only way to reduce staff effectively is to take a whole vehicle out of operation — in this case, an engine.

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