Barrington's big fire department decision Monday

Monday should end more than a month of suspense for two Barrington firefighter-paramedics over their future employment with the village.

They are the ones caught between two possible courses of action by the village board that night — to lay off 20 or 22 firefighters on Jan. 1.

The layoffs will take place in conjunction with the end of the village's contract to provide service to the larger, 48-square-mile Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District which serves communities surrounding Barrington itself.

In mid-July, village trustees heard two recommendations from consultant Bill Balling on the Barrington Fire Department's future needs. His preference is a plan that would employ 18 personnel — laying off 20 — but would increase the village's fire protection costs by about $80,000 per year.

But he also identified a workable plan to employ 16 people — laying off 22 — which would result in a slight decrease from today's costs.

The layoffs will be based on seniority — as per the firefighters' union contract — which allows 20 of them to already know they have to seek new jobs next year. The other two understandably remain on edge.

The fire district is hoping to hire as many of the laid off firefighters as it can through its new contract with private firm Paramedic Services of Illinois. But such employment would be without a pension plan and possibly at a much lower salary.

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