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posted: 7/15/2013 12:00 PM

Don't dismantle this top fire department

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Barrington Trustee Tim Roberts said he sympathizes with firefighters who would lose union benefits if transferred to the fire district, but he doesn't believe the change would hurt public safety. Spoken by a trustee who has no concept how fire personnel perform their duties.

I can guarantee our community will suffer a reduction in response time and prevent the shift commander from mitigating emergency calls efficiently. My 37 years as a firefighter and one of Barrington's first paramedics has given me to understand the dynamics this separation will cause, when citizens call 911. As a shift commander, my ability to provide emergency response within six minutes was greatly enhanced once we established three fire stations.

Since 1974, when the paramedic program began, the Barrington and the Barrington Countryside fire departments have transformed our department to one of the most qualified and highly-trained in the area. We belong to one of the highest-ranked paramedic systems in the country.

Barrington spends millions on real estate and lawyers. The village also spends thousands of dollars to hire qualified fire department candidates. Which is a better investment? Public safety should be the choice.

Through the efforts of the fire and police commission, our department has hired firefighters/paramedics who graduated at the top of their classes. That is why they deserve good benefits. The reason they are "union" benefits is because the village is notorious for not protecting their employees. If this separation occurs, we will lose these qualified personnel.

The legacy of the mayor and trustees 37 years ago was to budget the money for pensions, salaries and establish a professionally trained fire department; that has been realized.

The current Barrington trustees and mayor are on the verge of dismantling one of the best fire departments that has ever been assembled. That will be their legacy.

Lenn Grant


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