West Dundee officials this week took a small, but significant step toward possibly consolidating its fire services with neighboring departments by ordering a study on response times, where most emergency calls occur and related information.
The study will focus on the coverage area that encompasses the West Dundee and Carpentersville fire departments, as well as the East Dundee and the Rutland-Dundee Township fire protection districts.
The document, which the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association will compile, would also give an overview of the area and list the individual departments' strengths and weaknesses.
"Right now we're in the information-gathering phase," said Randy Friese, chief of the West Dundee Fire Department. "The more facts we get, the more better educated decisions we can make."
The West Dundee village board approved the study Monday and it is expected to cost up to $1,000, Friese said.
Village Manager Joseph Cavallaro estimates it will take 90 days to complete the study.
Once the information comes back, Friese will meet with the neighboring fire chiefs to review it and figure out the next steps. Carpentersville, West Dundee and East Dundee support the study and are dividing its cost among themselves. Rutland-Dundee has agreed to submit information for the study, but is not making a financial contribution.
Once the results are known, then it might be time to do a more extensive study that could cost between $15,000 and $55,000, Friese said.
"It's a lot of dough, that's why I'm taking a small step first," Friese said.
Talks about consolidating services have been ongoing for many years, but got serious in January with a meeting between Friese, Cavallaro, Carpentersville Village President Ed Ritter, Carpentersville Village Manager J. Mark Rooney and Public Safety Director Al Popp, who oversees both the police and fire departments in Carpentersville.
Monday's action comes less than two months after West Dundee approved a 2-cent gasoline tax and a 1 percent food and beverage tax to make up for the closure of Target. The store closed in May, taking between $300,000 and $400,000 in annual sales tax revenue with it.
West Dundee leaders say Target's departure has nothing to do with the consolidation talks.
"Certainly everybody's got tight budgets and it makes sense to look at it at this time, but my ultimate goal would be to provide better service," Friese said.