Auto-aid deal still eludes Barrington, fire district

Ironically but not coincidentally, the Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District’s negotiation of automatic-aid agreements with its neighbors is taking the longest with its current contractual partner, the Barrington Fire Department.

Though the fire district serving a 48-square-mile area outside Barrington has received its fire and ambulance service from the village’s department for decades, the two agencies are going their separate ways Jan. 1.

But how separate depends on whether an auto-aid agreement like the deals both have with most of their other neighbors can be negotiated before then.

Fire district trustees Monday approved more auto-aid agreements with the Algonquin-Lake in the Hills, Carpentersville and East Dundee fire departments. But a negotiated draft of one with Barrington was not voted upon.

“I’m confident it will be worked out,” fire district Trustee Tom Long said.

But Barrington Fire Chief Jim Arie said his village’s negotiations with the fire district have had a very different tone than those of other auto-aid agreements it has.

Auto-aid agreements spell out where and how one department would respond automatically to another’s calls, usually based on the proximity of their respective stations.

Fire district officials seem especially concerned that neither party will ever have to respond to an unequal number of the other’s calls, Arie said.

“Most other auto-aid agreements are not contentious,” he said. “Most other auto-aid agreements are, ‘What can I do to help?’”

Barrington Countryside District trustees — who serve parts of Barrington Hills, Lake Barrington, South Barrington and Inverness as well as some unincorporated areas — were also asked Monday by Inverness resident Kathy Feingold why they’re no longer pursuing an auto-aid agreement for the nearby Palatine Rural Fire Protection District to cover the west side of her village.

Long said Barrington Countryside would definitely find a way to provide equal or better coverage to that area than it has today. But he would only imply that this would be achieved through other means than auto-aid from Palatine Rural.

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