Though the final staffing contract has yet to receive a vote, Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue trustees now have an employee roster they believe rivals or surpasses any other local fire department.
American Emergency Services completed the hiring of the district's fire and ambulance personnel. Of the 21 full-time employees, 18 are certified to work as both firefighters and paramedics. The remaining three will have the same credentials upon completion of paramedic school. The department will employ 10 paid-on-call firefighters with lesser training as basic EMTs and two firefighters with paramedic certification. Including additional part-time staff, the district will have nearly 40 employees in the fire department.
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Fire district President Jim Gaffney pointed out the high percentage of employees with paramedic training -- concerns about a lack of paramedics on staff was one of the early public criticisms of the plans for the new department.
An additional public concern was the ability of the new department to secure mutual aid agreements with neighboring departments. Trustees announced Monday night the department is now a member of MABAS (Mutual Aid Box Alarm System) Division II, which includes communities such as South Elgin, Elgin and East and West Dundee among others. Being a part of MABAS gets the fire district access to support services from departments all across the state depending on the need.
Trustees also said discussions are under way for auto aid agreements with South Elgin and Pingree Grove. Such agreements are based on the location of an emergency, the type of help needed and the availability of Fox River to respond versus the other departments.
Gaffney also said he plans on having further discussions with St. Charles to see what assistance the two fire departments may be able to provide each other in the future.
"We had a meeting a couple weeks ago with the mayor and (St. Charles City Administrator) Brian Townsend," Gaffney said. "We ironed out some of the differences. They still have some concerns. Once those are addressed we will have a working relationship with them."
Gaffney refused to answer any questions about the district's impasses with Campton Hills and South Elgin on the progression of construction on the district's new fire houses in those communities. Both communities have issued stop work orders to the fire district in recent weeks. Gaffney said those notices won't slow down the fire district.
"We'll be ready to go at midnight on May 1," Gaffney said.