Committee to study Rutland-Dundee, West Dundee fire merger
The Rutland-Dundee Fire Protection District is forming a citizens' advisory committee to determine the feasibility of merging two area fire stations.
Seven community members appointed by the fire board will soon be tasked with evaluating a proposal to relocate Rutland-Dundee firefighters from the Sleepy Hollow station at 7 Thorobred Lane to a nearby station belonging to the West Dundee Fire Department at 100 Carrington Drive.
West Dundee Chief Randy Freise, who has supported consolidating fire services, said Wednesday he had no knowledge of the advisory committee.
The idea to combine operations was introduced by Rutland-Dundee fire board member Don Rage, who said the move would allow crews to share apparatus and may improve overall efficiency. The two stations are less than a mile apart, and only two firefighters are typically on duty at each facility at any given time, he said.
Rage suggested earlier the Sleepy Hollow station could then be used for training crews or storing vehicles.
The issue "raised significant interest" among district residents after the Daily Herald published an article about the proposal last month, board President Rollyn Anderson said. Fire board members decided last week to establish the committee, which he said will "take into account the public interest in making significant decisions on how public funds are spent and how public safety services are best provided."
But Rage, who was unable to attend the meeting, said forming the advisory committee only creates a larger government that may slow down the collaboration process.
"I honestly look to the professionals, being the fire chiefs, on their input on how to make this more responsive to the Dundee area," Rage said. "I think we have more than enough qualified people to oversee ... how this could work."
The decision on whether to merge stations, he said, would ultimately be made by the fire entities' governing boards.
Rutland-Dundee Chief Richard Thomas said fire officials wanted the committee to take an "independent look" at the proposal while analyzing its advantages, disadvantages, potential cost savings and effectiveness.
"My job as chief is to provide that committee with any information they need," he said. "We're looking at this process from all angles."
Freise said earlier he believed sharing a fire station could improve response times and efficiencies. Though he declined to comment Wednesday on the advisory committee, he said he is still open to discussing the proposal further.
Thomas said he would expect the committee to ask West Dundee officials for their involvement in the future.
Anderson has already appointed three committee members, all of whom have been active in public service throughout the community: Gordy Mueller of Gilberts, and Mike Tennis and Bob Schreiber of Sleepy Hollow. The other two fire board members, Rage and William Carbone, will each appoint two members.
The first committee meeting will be set once its members are finalized, Thomas said.
Area fire entities already work together by sharing resources and operating under the same procedures when responding to calls, Rage said, and Rutland-Dundee is no exception. But he believes more can be done to consolidate efforts and save money.
"The ultimate goal," Rage said, "is to provide the best possible service to the whole area."