Fox River & Countryside fire OKs some part-timers to save money

  • Residents served by the Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District will determine if a move to a partial, part-time staffing model for rescue personnel matches the motto on Station No. 3's walls.

      Residents served by the Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District will determine if a move to a partial, part-time staffing model for rescue personnel matches the motto on Station No. 3's walls. James Fuller | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 2/4/2016 11:06 PM

Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District trustees Thursday night voted in a partial, part-time staffing model for fire and ambulance service.

The staffing change appeared to be a compromise between what district trustees think may be needed to keep the lights on and what residents told trustees they would not accept at a recent meeting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Trustees had originally planned to implement an all part-time staff. Instead, they converted only some of the rescue staff to part-time status.

The district contracts out with a private company for fire and ambulance staffing. Moving forward, that staffing will see five people, one captain and four firefighter/paramedics at each of the district's stations around the clock. That staff will be augmented by no fewer than three part-time employees.

Those part-time employees will have all the same training as the full-time staff. Many of them will be full-time firefighter/paramedics at other area departments.

"This will save us money, but not as much as we had hoped," said district President Bob Handley. "It's a stopgap measure."

With less savings, Handley said the district will seek a tax increase referendum, most likely in April 2017. If the tax increase request fails, as have all the district's recent tax increase attempts, Handley said the next step would be implementing a completely part-time staff.

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The staffing vote followed the appointment of two new trustees. Carl "Rudy" Herout and Tom Mollenhauer fill the slots recently vacated by the resignations of Trustee Terry Jeglum and former district President Jim Gaffney.

"The entire idea of the (staffing change) was not to diminish services to the community," Mollenhauer said. "It's a real positive moving forward."

Trustees also announced they will appoint two existing staff members as interim co-chiefs while they begin the search for a new, full-time fire chief. Former Chief Carl DeLeo resigned last week.

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