The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

June 5, 2014

Fire committee hits ground running

DANVILLE — The first meeting of the city’s new Fire Division Sustainability Committee included Mayor Scott Eisenhauer giving the committee a binder full of background information on the fire department and where numbers stand today.

The goal of the committee is to make recommendations to the city council by Labor Day regarding the fire department’s future.

Committee members are: Phillip Beyer, Richard Ervin, Jerry Hawker, Larry Jaggers, Vince Koers, Larry Kuchefski, Ron Martin, Jan Ostiguy, Sharon Pickering and Jerry Sparks. Jaggers, Ervin and Sparks all are firefighters, with the rest being community members.

Chairwoman Ostiguy said the committee will look at solutions for funding and having an appropriate-sized fire department needed for the city. She said the committee needs to look ahead to the next decade. The city must face hard decisions and tighten its belt, Ostiguy said.

Koers said with the city’s population shrinking, the city has to make changes.

Thirteen-year firefighter Sparks, who also is firefighter union president, reminded the committee the decisions made by the group “will have real-world consequences out there.”

Committee members met for about two hours Wednesday night.

Eisenhauer presented information on the city’s tax levy and budget, pensions, state legislation affecting municipalities, fire calls, fire station response times, the firefighters’ collective bargaining agreement and other items. Eisenhauer said about the firefighters’ pension fund right now, there are “more receiving from the system than paying into it.”

In 2013, firefighters responded to 65 structure fires. Average response time was four minutes and 31 seconds. Average time on the scene was two hours and 10 minutes. Average apparatus used was 6.1 vehicles.

Committee members also asked for information about mutual aid, 911 dispatch protocols and the number of firefighters in comparable cities based on population and square mile.

In April, the city council — with Eisenhauer providing the eighth majority vote — approved a $2 monthly fire safety fee as a base that increases $1 more for every 5,000 square feet of roof top with a $30 cap as part of the city’s 2014-2015 budget to help pay for the fire division.

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