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posted: 11/26/2013 5:27 PM

Barrington, fire district still negotiating aid deal

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With barely a month to go before their Jan. 1 separation, the Barrington Fire Department and Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District continue to negotiate an automatic-aid agreement somewhat maintaining their longtime cooperation.

Barrington Village President Karen Darch made public the village's latest proposal at Monday night's village board meeting, but fire district officials said they're still awaiting data showing that such an arrangement would be equitable.

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Barrington Village Manager Jeff Lawler said Tuesday that village officials believed they were waiting for a response from the fire district, but would act immediately to resolve any miscommunication.

One part of the village's proposal is that the Barrington Fire Department would provide first response to two neighborhoods in the fire district's jurisdiction in exchange for the district's help in answering any third simultaneous ambulance call the village receives.

The two neighborhoods identified are the unincorporated college-named streets south of the village and east of Route 59 as well as the Hillcrest Acres subdivision on the south side of Lake-Cook Road west of Ela Road.

Darch said the village would be taking on the larger commitment as there are historically about 40 calls per year to these two neighborhoods, while the village experiences more than two simultaneous ambulance calls only about 21 times per year.

But the other part of the village's proposal requires that both agencies respond to each other's fire calls to commercial properties. Most of these turn out to be false alarms requiring very little time, Darch said.

But fire district President Tom Rowan said his board is still waiting on data from the village showing that the district would be getting at least approximately as much help as it's giving. His most recent information shows that the village has about 340 commercial alarms annually while the larger, 48-square-mile fire district just outside the village's borders has only about 40, he said.

"Our whole goal, with all of our neighbors, is to have a balanced agreement -- equitable on both sides," Rowan said.

He added that the district is not looking to have the village take over its responsibilities in any part of its jurisdiction, but rather get on the scene first when its station is closest.

Though the fire district contractually received service from the village for decades, the two are going their separate ways Jan. 1 over disagreement on how much staff and equipment the district's jurisdiction required. As a result, the district has spent the past year preparing its own independent department -- beginning with the equipment and fire stations in Barrington Hills and Lake Barrington it already owned.

The fire district includes parts of Barrington Hills, Lake Barrington, South Barrington, Inverness and unincorporated Cook, Lake and McHenry counties.

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