Mundelein, Libertyville to share fire ladder truck
2 villages' fire departments to share vehicle with ladder to save money
Mundelein and Libertyville will share a ladder tower fire truck in what officials says is a common-sense way to improve efficiency and lower costs for taxpayers in both towns.
Under terms of an agreement approved Monday by the Mundelein village board and expected to be accepted Tuesday in Libertyville, the specialized piece of equipment would be available to Mundelein for an annual fee that will offset maintenance and future replacement costs.
Mundelein's tower ladder truck is not past its prime and doesn't need replacement, but the move will provide the department and village with options, according to Chief Deputy Fire Chief Bill Lark.
"It makes sense. It's a smart move," he said. "Our ladder truck is not on its last leg -- it's a cost saver for the village of Mundelein."
The agreement depends on Mundelein's ability to sell, lease or trade its ladder truck, he said.
Under terms of the five-year pact, Mundelein would pay $14,000 for the first year with an annual increase of 3 percent thereafter. Libertyville's ladder tower truck and trained personnel would be needed about five times a year. The villages provide automatic mutual aid for structure fires through a separate 2015 agreement.
Libertyville Fire Chief Rich Carani said the villages have been talking about a number of options for about two years in an era of tight budgets and desire to make tax dollars stretch.
"Even if it wasn't this day and age, you have to be smart," he said.
Ladder trucks, used to fight fires in high-rise and commercial structures, have fairly long life spans because they don't drive as many miles as engines. But a new one costs $1.3 million or more.
"When looking at operational use versus cost, fuel, and associated maintenance to keep a vehicle like this operational, it makes more sense to share these types of assets," said Eric Guenther, Mundelein's public safety director.
Libertyville is only 2 miles farther from the Mundelein's primary high-rise, most commercial properties and can access the east side of the village without being blocked by railroad tracks, he said.
Lark said he expects these types of arrangements among communities to continue.
"It's the sharing of services -- you're going to see more and more of it as time goes by."
Libertyville's tower ladder truck is 18 years old and on a 25-year rotation to be replaced. But the village is considering refurbishing it to add up to 10 years to its life span at a considerably lower cost than buying new.
"This is a big deal to Mundelein," said Chris Clark, Libertyville village manager. "It's a good agreement and it's important to both towns."
The level of service to Mundelein residents would remain the same, according to Mayor Steve Lentz.
"If we can find new and better ways to deliver the same or better level of service to residents, we are always going to pursue those opportunities," he said.