Des Plaines Fire Department getting new $223,430 rescue truck

The Des Plaines Fire Department soon will have a new rescue squad in its fleet - but not everyone in town is happy about it.

The city council on Monday approved the $223,430 purchase from a western Illinois manufacturer called Alexis Fire Equipment. The squad will be custom built and delivered to the city in eight to 11 months, Des Plaines spokeswoman Jennie Vana said.

Smaller than a traditional fire truck, the rig will be loaded with gear for medical emergencies, hazardous material spills, dive rescues and more types of calls.

It'll be put into service at Station No. 63, at 130 E. Thacker St., and will be the station's primary assist unit for medical emergencies, documents indicate.

The truck also will respond to calls that aren't emergencies, such as carbon monoxide detector activations.

A crew of up to two firefighters will man the vehicle.

The rescue squad's acquisition is the final component of a restructuring of the department's vehicles, city documents indicate.

The changes started last September with the purchase of a pumper truck and continued with the retirement of a Station No. 63 ladder truck in November. An ambulance was put into full-time service at Station No. 64, too.

At Monday's council meeting, Des Plaines resident Eric Lee, a Barrington firefighter who said he lives a block from Station No. 63, opposed the purchase of the rescue squad. Lee said he'd prefer a traditional fire truck crew return to service instead.

"I don't view this as a good use of the city's money or good policy on the part of the fire department," Lee said.

Des Plaines Professional Firefighters Association Local 4211 has used social media to question the removal of the ladder truck and staffing levels, too.

The council approved the purchase with a 5-1 vote. Third Ward Alderman Sean Oskerka cast the lone "no" vote, while 5th Ward Alderman Carla Brookman was absent.

Before the vote, 6th Ward Alderman Malcom Chester spoke in favor of the purchase and the changes in the department, saying "it's a good way forward for us."

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  Des Plaines firefighters, shown here at a fatal Oakton Street blaze this year, soon will have a new rescue squad. The city council approved the $223,430 purchase Monday. Mark Welsh/
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