Mundelein OKs ladder truck sale despite ex-fire chief's warning

  • Mundelein Fire Department's headquarters facility on Midlothian Road in Mundelein.

      Mundelein Fire Department's headquarters facility on Midlothian Road in Mundelein. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 2/26/2018 10:02 PM

The Mundelein village board went ahead with the sale of one of the department's ladder trucks despite criticism from residents and even a former fire chief.

People packed Monday night's village board meeting to oppose the ladder truck sale as well as plans to restructure the fire department's command staff. Critics included former Fire Chief Tim Sashko, who lives in Mundelein and spoke at length about the potential hazards of the two proposals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Sashko was especially upset about the plan to sell the ladder truck to a department in Kentucky for $360,000. Although it's rarely used, Sashko said the truck is an important piece of equipment that contains much more potentially lifesaving gear than just a tall ladder.

"Frequency (of use) is not a measurement of safety," said Sashko, who led the department from 2007 to 2015.

Dumping the truck means Mundelein firefighters will have to rely on neighboring departments in Wauconda or Libertyville to send their ladder trucks to an emergency in Mundelein, Sashko said, and the extra travel time could cost lives.

"The sale of this equipment is not a cost-effective move," Sashko said.

As for the proposed plan to reduce the number of lieutenants in the department to four from six, Sashko said the department is understaffed and stressed the need for a strong command staff.

Brett Clark, a Mundelein firefighter who's the president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 4786, called the proposed staffing change "dangerous" and "ill-advised."

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Village officials have said eliminating lieutenant positions will save the village money when it comes to salary and overtime costs.

Clark called the potential savings "a joke."

"We do not feel safe," said Clark, whose union has filed an unfair labor practice complaint over the issue.

In response, Mayor Steve Lentz blasted Clark's position as a union leader.

"When a union president starts talking about safety, take your hand, put it on your wallet and hold tight. Because that's what they're after," Lentz said.

Lentz later apologized for the comment.

Local residents and business owners were among the people from the audience who criticized the proposals. No audience members spoke in favor of the plans.

The village board hadn't yet voted on the command staff restructuring late Monday night.

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