House fire reveals rift between Barrington fire agencies

Updated 4/24/2014 5:58 AM

Barrington's fire chief is publicly questioning the procedures of the recently formed Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District's department after a recent house fire just blocks from the village's border.

Chief Jim Arie said his firefighters could have made it to the scene of the April 9 fire at 1025 S. Grove St. in nearly half the time that it took Barrington Countryside, but were never called to assist in battling the blaze.


Arie reported at a recent public meeting of the Barrington village board that the first fire engine on the scene from Barrington Countryside arrived in five minutes and 34 seconds, whereas an engine from the Barrington village station, located less than two miles from the fire, would have arrived in less than three minutes. The Barrington Countryside engine first on the scene had to travel just over 3 miles.

Arie said the more than two minute time difference was important.

"Fire doubles in size about every minute," he said, noting that the blaze initially was reported to have started in the garage, but was fully involved fire by the time Barrington Countryside firefighters arrived.

"It's extremely unusual for neighbors not to work with each other regarding when an emergency call goes on, such as the case here," Arie said. "(It) is very unfortunate for everybody, especially the public."

Barrington Countryside Fire Chief Jeffrey Swanson refuted Aries' claims that his district handled the call improperly. He said he is proud of his firefighters' work in the April 9 fire, adding that their efforts saved about $200,000 in property damage to the home.

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When a fire occurs, it's standard practice for emergency dispatchers to inform departments in neighboring jurisdictions. Which departments are called, and when, is determined by lists prepared by each agency and aid agreements worked out among the departments.

Barrington Countryside does not have the Barrington Fire Department in the first group of neighboring departments to be contacted when a fire south of Lake-Cook Road is reported. Instead, departments in Carpentersville, East Dundee, Hoffman Estates, Cary and Long Grove are notified first.

Swanson said the district is satisfied with its list, and noted that the Barrington Fire Department is in the second group of agencies to be called. He added that the fire district will review the call list.

"If we need to change it, we will change it," he said.

Thomas Rowan, the Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District board president, said the district prides itself in their work with their neighbors.

"That's what fire departments do, they help each other out," Rowan said.

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