Posts Tagged Peoria FIre Department

Peoria Fire Department news (more)

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Peoria firefighters are calling for the resources cut to the department to be restored.

On Oct. 1, 2020, Peoria Fire Station 4 on SW Jefferson Street was closed due to COVID-19 budget projections, but that decision was reversed about six weeks later.

“So many calls come from that area of town and that’s when we made the decision as an administration that we probably need to reopen station 4,” said Chief Jim Bachman of the Peoria Fire Department.

As Station 4 reopened, Station 8 on West Hurlburt street, along with Engine 2, were put on the chopping block.

Due to cuts made dating back about 18 months, Ryan Brady, the president of Peoria Firefighters Local 50, said the city has lost nine firefighters on the streets.

“Trying to respond to multiple emergencies [while] keeping fire to room of origin honestly has become a daunting task,” Brady said.

Brady is calling on city officials to restore Engine 2, which he said was included in a balanced 2019-2020 budget.

One councilwoman said she agrees that the city should go back and review cuts made to public safety.

The city has earmarked COVID-19 relief funds to address job cuts, but the city council has not decided which areas would be impacted.

“If the end result comes at the loss of a civilian, another civilian, because we’ve had four civilians that have died as a result of fires this year, or even a firefighter, we’re going to have some serious problems,” Brady said.

A new Fire Station 4 is being built on Western Avenue and though the new location will be better to serve the community, they still expect response gaps.

The Peoria Fire Department is on pace to answer 22,000 calls this year, which would be the most in the department’s history.


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Peoria Fire Department news

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Peoria fire officials are again, asking for public safety resources to be restored after back-to-back weekend house fires where three firefighters were injured, two of which briefly ended up in the hospital.

“There wasn’t a crew on Saturday night, early Sunday morning that works in the city of Peoria that wasn’t involved in these two fires,” Jim Bachman, Peoria fire chief, said. “We used every resource we had and in fact, we called in five extra people.”

Two of the five extra bodies were to replace captains who were burned while battling the fire and had to be taken to the hospital. All of the injured firefighters are home recovering.

Two homes were deemed a total loss and this brought the number of emergency demolitions due to fires this year to about 14 compared to only 10 from last year. The fires are starting to get ahead of firefighters and the reduced staffing makes it harder to get to them in a timely manner.

He recognizes the city’s financial issues, but said having more manpower would help.

“We understand that that’s really difficult this time the way the city’s finances are, but certainly another fire machine could’ve made a difference in putting a quicker stop on this fire,” Bachman said. “We wouldn’t be saying we’d like to see Engine 2 come back just for the sake of saying we’d like to see engine 2 come back.”

Thirty three fire suppression positions have been lost since 2019.

The firefighter’s union wants city leaders to consider allocating some of its Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, from the American Rescue Plan, to the fire department.

CA councilman is advocating for this but said the decision on how to spend the remaining $36.7 million from the fund comes down to the council as a whole.

Back in June, the city manager said the funds can be used to support public health response, to address negative economic impacts, to replace public sector revenue loss, for premium pay for essential workers, for water and sewer infrastructure, and broadband infrastructure.

However, he mentioned it’s not an ongoing stream of revenue and once it’s gone, it’s gone. Council members discussed taking time to figure out the most efficient ways to use the money.

All the funds have to be obligated by until Dec. 31, 2024 and spent by Dec. 31 2026.

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Peoria Fire Department news (more)

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A South Peoria fire station shuttered by budgetary cuts will reopen, but at the expense of another station that serves the Uplands, the Moss Avenue area, and Bradley University.

Peoria Fire Department Chief Tony Ardis told the city council that the increased response times created by the Oct. 1 closure of Station 4 on SW Jefferson Street were not acceptable, and that their best plan was to reintroduce Engine 4 at Station 4, paired with the transfer of Truck 4 from Station 8 on Hurlburt Street. The reintroduction would be offset by decommissioning Engine 2 that would result in the closure of Station 8.

The fire department reductions became a major issue of contention as the council worked through budget shortfalls created by the COVID-19 pandemic, as District 1 and 2 council members Denise Moore and Chuck Grayeb tried to keep Station 4 operational.

The territory served by Station 8 will be divided among three other houses: Station 4, Station 3 on West Armstrong Avenue, and the Central House on Monroe Street downtown.

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Peoria Fire Department news (more)

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The Peoria City Council approved a settlement with the union that represents the city’s firefighters that will allow one of the fire houses that was to be closed to remain open for six months. The vote was 9-1 and involved Local 50 dropping an unfair labor practice grievance it had filed against the city two years ago in return for the city keeping Station 20 open in far north Peoria. Local 50 had won on the appellate level but agreed to give up the $500,000 judgment it got in return for the firehouse to remain open. That judgment is roughly the cost of keeping a fire house and its accompanying truck open for about six months.

Also part of the settlement was an agreement to have no layoffs through March 30. Earlier this fall, the city shuttered two fire houses as a way to close a budget hole created by the COVID-19 pandemic. City hall would also have to keep 44 union spots for each shift. If that wasn’t possible with the existing personnel, then it would have to be filled through overtime.

The suit stemmed from an agreement made between the firefighters and the city in 2017 in the wake of brownouts that were instituted to help close a budgetary shortfall. Local 50 said the brownouts were an unfair labor practice as the agreement eliminated some unfilled positions in return for keeping the fire apparatus online.

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Peoria Fire Department news (more)

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One of the two shuttered fire houses in the city could come back online until March 2021 under a proposed agreement by the local firefighters union, but whether city hall, which took two engines offline as a way to save money during the pandemic, accepts the deal is unknown.

Peoria Firefighters Union Local 50, said the they would drop an unfair labor practice lawsuit and use the anticipated $500,000 judgment they had won to help replace one fire engine. The deal would also call for the addition of seven firefighter positions which could be staffed through overtime or the hiring of new employees. 

The two sides have been in a series of negotiations since April over how many fire trucks would remain in service. The negotiations kicked into high gear after the council voted in late August to cut the two engines and shutter Stations 4 and 20.

The estimated cost to staff a fire engine is about $1.1 million. The union’s decision to forego the $600,000 is about half that, or six months, which would push a final decision out to March. The deal, however, still has to get council approval, which could come at a special meeting since the budgetary cuts are supposed to take effect on Oct. 1.

It wasn’t clear which engine would come back as part of this deal. Station 4 was to close on Oct. 1, while Station 20 was to close at some time yet to be determined. The union had been bargaining with the city for weeks to save jobs and keep fire houses open. The elimination of a fire truck often results in the closure of a house.

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Peoria Fire Department news (more)

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An attempt to reverse the planned budget-related cuts of two Peoria Fire Department engines fell short Tuesday night, after the city council unanimously agreed to issue $4 million in working cash bonds to keep the Peoria Civic Center afloat.

A District 2 council member proposed increasing the city’s borrowing to $15 million as a way to save fire department engines 4 and 20, and 22 associated positions. That $15 million figure represented an additional $1 million beyond the $10 million proposed earlier this month and the $4 million for the Civic Center. The proposal contingent on the firefighters’ union agreeing to a $500,000 settlement of a pending unfair labor practices appeal.

After firefighters’ union president Ryan Brady said he would need seven days to hear from his members on the willingness to agree to a settlement, the legality of that contingency raised some question, with one suggesting it might be a quid pro quo. The council eventually consulted with the city attorney in a 30-minute executive session prior to the vote. But those who opposed the plan said the issue already had been decided.

Money to repay the $4 million, 10-year bond for the civic center will come from hotel, restaurant, and amusement tax dollars. The civic center does not have the authority to issue its own bonds.

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Peoria Fire Department news

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Facing escalating obligations to police and fire pensions, Peoria city leaders want residents to give direction on a course of action. The city council spent close to 90 minutes during Tuesday’s meeting discussing a plan to place an advisory referendum on the February ballot to gauge interest in implementing Police Protection and Fire Protection taxes.

“By 2023, one out of every nine dollars that you collect in the general fund will be going to cover public safety pension costs – over and above the property tax levies we’re currently showing,” said City Manager Patrick Urich, showing a general fund transfer requirement growing from $4 million this year to $10.6 million. “This is what’s driving us to cut services. This is the structural imbalance that we’re facing.”

Illinois law requires pensions to be 90% funded by 2040 and Peoria currently has $340 million in unfunded obligations. The amount of property tax revenue going toward the city’s general fund for operations has steadily decreased all the way down to nothing.

“There are no property tax dollars that you’re levying that are supporting the general fund operations for public safety, for public works, for community development, or for city hall – zero,” said Urich. He also noted that nearly 85% of the tax levy is covering pension costs.   

Adopting two protection taxes of 7.5 cents per $100 in assessed value would generate about $1.2 million apiece. The council has the authority to implement taxes at that rate without a referendum, but the rates could be increased up to 0.6% with a referendum.

The city had a balanced budget before the pandemic struck. While the council members seemed to favor asking residents to vote on what to do, most indicated they are opposed to higher taxes. The council unanimously voted to bring the referendum proposal back for additional discussion in 30 days.

There was a suggestion of the possibly doubling the $10 million in short-term borrowing the council approved last week in an attempt to save the two fire department engines that would be cut, but the borrowing would need a repayment source, and anything more than an extra $10 million would likely require a property tax increase.

The council decided to revisit the possibility at the next meeting.

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The Peoria Fire Department is losing 22 firefighter positions. Thursday, councilman Denis Cyr explained why he voted yes on the proposal to decommission two engine companies, after voting no the previous week.

He chose the best option for his constituents who consistently tell him they are tired of paying higher taxes and fees. His goal is to be fiscally responsible, but in order to keep the taxes, services needed to be cut. He was in favor of closing two engine companies. He did not want to close the company in his district, but left it up to Peoria Fire Chief Tony Ardis who said it will be Engine 4 and Engine 20.

Cyr said he has been getting a lot of heat from the community, but he cannot please everyone. He adds he has also received good feedback from people who are against higher taxes.

From Peoria Firefighters Local 50 Facebook page:

It is clear what the priorities of the City Council are. Its never been so starkly clear. 6 positions in 2016. 18 positions in 2019. 22 positions as of tonight. 46 positions in 4 years.…/council-cuts-two-peoria-fire-engin…

Last night, six members of the Peoria City Council voted to reduce the Peoria Fire Department by permanently closing two fire engines and eliminating 22 firefighter positions. Fortunately or unfortunately, Peoria Firefighter/Paramedics are already working short staffed so the number of actual layoffs could be as few as 8. These dedicated men and women have not only faced the COVID 19 Pandemic head on, but also the dangers associated with being a firefighter. Please take a look below as they are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, coaches, mentors, City of Peoria residents, and there to help in your time of need!! Oh, and one of them is currently overseas defending our country on active duty in the military! This is irresponsible and slap in the face to them as they have called Peoria home!!

Accompanying the closures of Station 20 on Wilhelm Road and Station 4 on SW Jefferson, 22 positions and 8 layoffs are acceptable by a majority of the City Council. The Council continues to brutalize the Firefighters. #EssentialNotEssential

City leaders have said time and time again that “fires are only three percent” of what we respond to in a calendar year. For the third time in just as many days, Peoria Fire Department resources are stretched thin again leaving large holes across the city for limited response coverage due to a fire and a vehicle rollover. Imagine for a moment in less than thirty days, our city will have two less fire engines and twenty two less firefighters. This is reckless and irresponsible!!! Please voice your opinion to help overturn this dangerous situation! #Local50#ThereWhenYouNeedUsMost

ACT FRIDAY: Every standard ever written is usually written because of a tragedy or a loss. Why policy makers can’t understand that or choose to ignore it is completely baffling. You cannot cut or reduce Public Safety without affecting the public’s safety because it doesn’t fit your story, narrative or position. The standard is clear and Peoria is substandard throughout the city. If you don’t have a standard emergency travel time of 4 minutes to where you and your loved ones live and sleep, you should be asking why that is acceptable. And if you are soon to have your substandard response time tanked further, you should be asking why that is acceptable. And if you don’t know if you do or not, your District, At-Large and Mayoral representatives should be able to inform you. They have b

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Peoria Fire Department news

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One week after voting down a plan to borrow $10 million and decommission two fire engines to balance Peoria’s budget, a divided city council has approved the proposal. The city staff’s recommended budget restructuring in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic passed on a 6-5 count. Four council members remained opposed to the fire cuts. One said the cuts will damage Peoria’s ability to provide the safety a city of its size requires.

The engines slated to be cut are Engine 4 from the south side’s Jefferson station and Engine 20 on Wilhelm in the far north area of the city. Along with the engine cuts, 17 firefighter positions will be eliminated, however five firefighters accepting the voluntary separation incentive passed last week could reduce the number of layoffs.

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Peoria Fire Department news

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The Peoria Fire Department is honoring the 25th anniversary of a life-saving moment by calling for more people to learn CPR.

In 1994, then 17-year-old Nick Knapp was playing basketball at Woodruff High School when his heart suddenly stopped. Fortunately, off-duty fire captain Byron Yang was at the gym and immediately began performing CPR. Nick not only survived, but stayed completely neurologically intact. He went on to become the first basketball player to ever play Division 1 college basketball with an implantable defibrillator. His message is simple:

“Get out there and learn CPR,” he said. “It’s a very simple thing to learn, but it can all the difference for someone if you’re in the right situation at the right time. It can give someone, like me, a second chance at life.” Advances in resuscitation technology, like automatic defibrillators, mean more people survive incidents like his.

The Peoria Fire Department has since maintained a strong track record.

“Peoria firefighter paramedics, along with our AMT paramedics, were able to get a return of spontaneous circulation 32.6 percent of the time,” said Assistant Chief Tony Ardis, referencing data from last year. “That’s a fancy way of saying they were able to get a pulse back. The national average is 11 percent.”

But bystander CPR was performed in fewer than 16 percent of cardiac arrests. Learning compression CPR can have a huge effect on the likelihood of survival. Eighty percent of cardiac arrests happen in the home and it’s important to be able to take action while waiting for first responders emergency medical services.

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