Posts Tagged Chief David Wheelock

Lake Zurich fire chief resigns

Excerpts from the

The Lake Zurich fire chief who retired May 8 after being charged with two counts of domestic battery, [will] collect more than $105,000 [for] unused vacation and sick days banked over a 36-year career … Documents acquired through a Freedom of Information Act request show that Wheelock had collected more than 70 weeks worth of sick days and six weeks of vacation time during his career with the Lake Zurich Fire Department, which he began in June 1979 as a paramedic. His annual salary at the time of retirement was $131,082.

David Wheelock, 54, was arrested May 4. Police said he shoved a member of his household on the 21000 block of West Highland Drive. Now he faces two domestic battery charges, both misdemeanors. Lake County sheriff’s deputies said in a report that the person Wheelock pushed suffered injuries consistent with the allegations. In a statement the week of the chief’s arrest, attorney Christina Ivashchenko said Wheelock plans to defend himself against “erroneous charges.”

“Chief Wheelock is an outstanding citizen and an exemplary fire chief who has dedicated his entire life to serving and protecting his community, the Village of Lake Zurich. Mr. Wheelock is going through a difficult personal time and is looking forward to the legal system vindicating him,” the statement said.

After a brief stint on administrative leave, Wheelock wrote a handwritten letter to Mayor Tom Poynton on May 8 to formalize his intention to retire. The former chief was an active member of the community. He spent the past year as president of the Rotary Club of Lake Zurich and was commended by the Village Board in 2014 for 35 years of service to the village.

Division Chief John Kelly is acting as fire chief and emergency management director while the village initiates a replacement process.



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Lake Zurich looks for cuts in public safety budgets

The Chicago Tribune Trib Local has an article discussing a search for possible cuts to police and fire budgets in Lake Zurich:

As the village police chief considers cost-cutting measures, Lake Zurich village board members recently approved a study aimed at finding ways to save money within the fire department. The study comes after cuts over the last five years have reduced the department’s staff by six positions, according to fire Chief Dave Wheelock. Meanwhile, Police Chief Steve Husak is also exploring ways to cut costs, including a possible reorganization within his respective department.

The fire department study, which will cost up to $50,000, will be performed by the International City/County Management Association and take a little over four months to complete, officials said.  According to village documents, the study will look at the department’s organizational structure and culture, compare its practices to industry standards, check for increased efficiency and improved performance, and recommend appropriate staffing levels for all the department’s functions.

“I’m not exactly sure where the board is focused,” Wheelock said. “The study, I believe, is focused on finding efficiencies within the department. I don’t know that that necessarily translates into more cuts. They have different response models, maybe different types of vehicles. It’s a very encompassing report.”

The fire department already has very little fat to trim, Wheelock said. Since 2009, he said, they’ve been constantly looking for efficiencies in the department. That includes the fire prevention bureau losing half of its four members last year.

“We’re about as low as we can go in terms of that kind of staffing,” he said, pointing to the “jump companies” at all four stations — a three-person crew that mans both ambulances and fire trucks based on the type of call that comes in. “We think our operation will hold up pretty well to review.”

The fire department isn’t the only one in the village that has faced cuts over recent years, with 19 full-time positions having been eliminated since the 2010 fiscal year.

Budget restrictions earlier this year forced the village to postpone a similar study that was planned for the police department. Officials said with a new top cop taking the reins in April, they wanted to let Husak see if he could find any room for efficiencies before commissioning the examination.

Specifically, Husak said he was looking at things such as assigned and unassigned time for officers, hire-back practices and vacation and sick time. He said he hasn’t gotten any “marching order” as to whether cuts need to be made, and he’s not sure whether a reduction in force will be an option down the road.

Mayor Tom Poynton said that any savings would have to be significant in order for Lake Zurich to slash its police and fire services. “We’re not going to compromise the safety of the community for nickels and dimes,” he said. “It would have to be something that is significant.”

Previous post are HERE, HERE, and HERE.

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Lake Zurich FD to lose some inspectors

The Trib Local has an article about how budget cuts will affect the Lake Zurich Fire Department.

After Lake Zurich officials announced layoffs and job cuts in the village fire, police and public works departments, one board member has expressed concern about how public safety might be affected by the resulting 30 percent fewer fire inspections.

Lake Zurich will cut 11 positions, and five employees will be laid off as a result, according to budget. The fire prevention bureau will halve the number of its employees, going from four to two. Those cuts will result in a decrease in fire inspections by as much as 30 percent, according to fire department Chief David Wheelock.

Trustee Terry Mastandrea, who was fire chief in Lake Zurich for 21 years until he retired in 2011, said the fire department already has faced cuts over the years. Mastandrea said he fears tapering back inspections might prove dangerous.

“We don’t have enough people or resources to respond to fires, so the best way is to prevent them,” he said. “Why are we taking a step backward when we need to be concerned about public safety?”

In total, two fire inspector positions are being eliminated in the fire prevention bureau, and one is being reclassified from an “inspector” to a “fire prevention specialist”, Wheelock said. The new person in the job will have to take on additional duties as a result, Wheelock said, and will work with the deputy fire marshal. The change will save the department close to $135,000 per year, according to the budget.

The village also is looking to start a program in which owners of buildings at lower risk of fire can do self-inspections and report back to the fire prevention bureau, Wheelock said. The department hopes to get that program up and running this year, he said.

Mastandrea questioned the self-inspection plan, saying there is no real incentive for businesses to report themselves if there is a violation.

“We haven’t had a fire loss in years, and it’s because of the progressive fire prevention we have, and our inspection service,” Mastandrea said. “The only way we can make sure [buildings] are safe is to get out there and inspect them.”

Businesses usually get one warning before being charged for violations, Wheelock said, and the types of businesses targeted for self-inspection are small places like offices and mom-and-pop shops without much foot traffic.

Therefore, Wheelock said, he’s not concerned about giving owners a checklist of things to watch for and ways to remedy issues. He said even low-risk buildings would be checked at least once every other year by an inspector.

Lake Zurich makes about $32,000 a year conducting fire inspections for neighboring towns like Deer Park and Kildeer, Wheelock said. The reduction in inspections, therefore, only will take place in Lake Zurich, where businesses aren’t charged an inspection fee, he said.


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