Mount Prospect firefighters concerned about takeover of township department's area

Firefighters and the manager of a manufactured home community are raising concerns about how Mount Prospect will provide emergency services to neighborhoods previously served by the disbanded Elk Grove Township Fire Department.

Their remarks came as the Mount Prospect village board held a public hearing Tuesday on a proposed special taxing district that would fund the costs of taking over for the township fire department, which ceased operations Oct. 1.

Several Mount Prospect firefighters attended, and their concerns were aired by fire Lt. Phil Wnek, a member of their union's executive board.

Wnek said firefighters are concerned that the additional responsibilities, without proper planning or cooperation with surrounding communities, will diminish the level of service they're providing and create more dangerous situations for firefighters and the community. Among his other concerns were longer response times and proper staffing.

Mount Prospect Fire Chief John Dolan said he looks forward to addressing the challenges with the input of fire personnel, including the union members.

The village board also heard from Alida Snider, a property manager at the Oasis Mobile Home Community, 7500 Elmhurst Road.

"We're also concerned about response times as well," she said. "A fire in a trailer, it starts and ends really fast."

Mount Prospect, Elk Grove Village and Des Plaines are providing fire and EMS services to residents and businesses in the area previously served by the township fire department. The area has a population of 5,246, with many living in four manufactured home communities - Willoway Terrace, Blackhawk Estates, Oasis and Des Plaines (Touhy Avenue).

Mount Prospect has acquired the township department's fire station at 1415 E. Algonquin Road in Arlington Heights and will use it as its fourth fire station. The village intends to spend $1 million to cover repairs and upgrades to the station facilities.

An ordinance to adopt the special taxing district is scheduled for a vote by the village board on Jan. 9. It would raise about $1 million, which would be comparable to the property tax levy of the township fire district.

  Mount Prospect fire Lt. Phil Wnek addresses the village board Tuesday night during a public hearing on a proposed special service area for fire protection in parts of Elk Grove Township. Steve Zalusky/
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