Rolling Meadows should work a deal with Arlington Heights to build a third fire station on the city's east side, a study says. If that doesn't work, the city's first station, built in 1958, should be relocated from Kirchoff Road in downtown Rolling Meadows south to Central Road just east of Route 53.
"Find out what their weaknesses are and how you can work together," said Robert M. Buhs, executive director of the Illinois Fire Chiefs' Association.
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The consultants from the association also said another ambulance staffed by two people could improve response times.
According to one set of national standards, the department should be able to answer alarms within four minutes 90 percent of the time. In 2011 Rolling Meadows ambulances reached the victims in four minutes about 68 percent of the time, and fire calls about 66 percent of the time. The department did better according to standards from another group that sets the goal at just over five minutes but still was under 90 percent.
Both the department and the leadership of Northwest Central Dispatch System have already made changes to improve their response times, said Buhs, who presented the study Tuesday night to the Rolling Meadows City Council.
The time goals are based on how quickly someone needs help after a heart attack and the time it takes a fire to reach 1,000 degrees or "flash over," he said.
The city has mutual aid agreements with neighboring departments, but other towns also have increasing numbers of calls combined with budget issues, Buhs said.
Mayor Tom Rooney noted the study shows that an area of older homes in the city's 3rd Ward would fall out of the "four-minute" window if the older station was moved according to the recommendation. The city's second station is on Plum Grove Road south of Euclid Avenue.
Rolling Meadows won grant money to build a third station on Algonquin Road just west of Wilke Road, but the council scuttled that project in 2010 because of economic problems.
City staff has estimated the downtown station will need $500,000 in repairs if it is kept.
Sixty-six percent of Rolling Meadows calls are for ambulances, 13 percent for fires and 21 percent "other," with false alarms a significant problem.