September 2021 Fire Department Q+A
The Village is receiving many questions surrounding the Village’s purchase of a new ladder truck and more broadly about the future of the fire department. Below is a question-and-answer series.
1. Is the Village going to eliminate the Fire Department?
Of course not. The Village Board has had no discussions regarding the elimination of the Fire Department. Conversations with surrounding communities have focused on sharing equipment such as the ladder truck, shared training, and shared vehicle maintenance. Anything beyond that is just speculative. The Village is committed to maintaining quality public safety services for our residents and businesses, which of course includes fire and emergency medical services.
2. What is happening with the Ladder Truck?
The Village currently has a Ladder Truck (Ladder Truck 86). Replacing the Ladder Truck is in the 10 Year Capital Plan for 2022. The Village studied various aspects of fire department operations in 2020 using an outside consultant, McGrath and Associates. The Study (among many recommendations) recommended the consideration of sharing certain pieces of equipment with neighboring departments. The Village Board has authorized discussions on this matter, which are on-going.
3. Why study the Ladder Truck at all?
The ladder truck is easily the most expensive piece of equipment that the Village has. The last 10-year plan assumed the replacement vehicle would cost $1 million dollars. Our latest estimate is up to $1.4 million. Given this, the Village Board believes it is prudent to at least review potential options.
4. Why is this all happening in secret?
It is not. There have been many, many public discussions including two public meetings to review the study, recent discussions at the strategic planning session and discussions at Village Board meetings. The Fire Chief and members of the fire department have participated in most of these meetings. In addition, there have been reports regarding meetings shared in the Manager’s Weekly reports which are posted each week on the Village website for all to read.
5. What would happen if the Village shared a Ladder Fire Truck?
We do not know yet as nothing has been negotiated as of yet. In any case, the Clarendon Hills Fire Station would be fully staffed and respond with appropriate equipment to any emergencies. Currently, when the ladder truck is absent (for maintenance or other reasons) assistance is received from neighboring departments. We provide the same assistance for our neighbors.
6. What is a ladder truck used for?
Ladder 86 is a Quint, meaning it has five functions, the most notable of these being pumping, supply and providing an aerial platform for lift and spraying.
7. Is it typical to have a ladder truck per station?
Many communities like ours do have ladder trucks. However, especially for larger communities with multiple stations, it is typical to NOT have a ladder truck at each station. One neighboring community has two stations, but just one ladder truck. Another nearby community has two stations, each with a ladder truck, but the community is at least five times larger than Clarendon Hills. A survey of fire vehicle use in the Chicago area is a major part of our on-going investigation. In Illinois, we are blessed with very developed shared services between communities which means that for a typical fire, there is an abundance of fire apparatus and personnel available. According to the fire department's incident reports, it is common for a structure fire in Clarendon Hills to have many vehicles from other communities arriving to assist.
8. When is a decision expected?
The Village Board most recently asked staff to comeback with a meaningful report that could be discussed by the end of the calendar year. In any case, the Village still owns and operates our existing ladder truck, so there is no cause for alarm in this regard.