Study: Consolidation feasible for 3 Dundee-area fire entities

  • The East Dundee Fire Protection District was one of the three entities analyzed in the cooperative services feasibility study conducted this year to determine ways to improve fire services in the area.

      The East Dundee Fire Protection District was one of the three entities analyzed in the cooperative services feasibility study conducted this year to determine ways to improve fire services in the area. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • The West Dundee public safety center on Eighth Street houses the police and fire departments. The fire department is considering methods of consolidation along with two other fire entities.

      The West Dundee public safety center on Eighth Street houses the police and fire departments. The fire department is considering methods of consolidation along with two other fire entities. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • The Carpentersville Fire Department is one of three Fox Valley entities considering ways to improve services and decrease costs using possible consolidation methods.

      The Carpentersville Fire Department is one of three Fox Valley entities considering ways to improve services and decrease costs using possible consolidation methods. Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 10/19/2015 10:37 PM

Consolidating fire services may be a viable option for three Fox Valley entities, a consolidation study concluded.

The West Dundee and Carpentersville fire departments and the East Dundee Fire Protection District engaged in a cooperative services feasibility study with the goal to improve services while saving taxpayers' money, West Dundee Fire Chief Randy Freise said.

 

The results of the study, which began in January, were presented to fire officials and their governing bodies Monday.

Kent Greene, of Oregon-based Emergency Services Consulting International, said the three entities already have worked well together in certain operational areas, such as sharing an automatic aid agreement. However, further and more formal methods of consolidating could save costs and expand services, he said.

"Consolidation makes sense," he said. "You're already working together."

The departments have three options: merge into a single fire department, maintain separate entities while combining some efforts, or decide to make no changes.

The study determined the departments are efficiently serving their intended areas with "very good response performances," Greene said.

"That's encouraging to us as fire chiefs," Freise said. "We're doing a good job with our budgets and our resources. There's not a lot of waste."

Merging the three departments, however, could streamline the use and efficiency of resources, Greene said. The number of administrative and support positions, for example, wouldn't change significantly. But instead of having three fire chiefs, they could allot resources to a training officer and an inspector -- positions that currently don't exist.

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Greene said there are also ways to join efforts without becoming one entity, such as developing a pre-incident planning process used by all three departments so they have the same emergency strategies. They could also combine training and fire prevention education programs.

With some direction from their governing boards, fire officials will meet to determine their goals and discuss how to move forward, Freise said.

"It's a great opportunity for us to look at some different ways of working together with our neighbors," Carpentersville Fire Chief John Skillman said.

Greene also recommended creating a committee with fire and elected officials, as well as some members of the general public, to develop a strategic plan.

"I'm 100 percent behind some form of (consolidating), and they gave us a lot of things to think about," East Dundee Fire Chief Steve Schmitendorf said. "We're doing so much already, it shouldn't be difficult."

Freise said fire officials had been discussing consolidation possibilities for years before deciding last year to conduct the study for $30,908, a cost that was split among the three entities.

"This is just another step in the process," Freise said. "It helps us make educated decisions going forward."

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