Knollwood Fire Department absorbed by Libertyville, Lake Forest

Libertyville and Lake Forest will absorb the Knollwood fire department and begin providing services within its jurisdiction Oct. 1.

Situated between Shields and Libertyville townships, Knollwood is a 50-member all volunteer department serving an area of less than 1 square mile. It includes 668 homes, about 1,800 residents and responds to about 535 emergency calls annually.

For the past two years, the three-person Rockland Fire Protection District board, which is the fire department's governing and taxing body, has discussed other ways of providing service with neighboring departments.

"Basically, the Rockland Fire Protection District will become a paper district and they'll contract their services with Libertyville and Lake Forest," which will split the area geographically, according to Libertyville Fire Chief Rich Carani.

Nothing will change in terms of manpower or equipment for Libertyville, he added, but Lake Forest will be interviewing Knollwood firefighters for paid on premises positions.

On Tuesday, the Libertyville village board approved a 20-year intergovernmental pact for fire and EMS services to Knollwood. The village has been providing ambulance service since May 2015.

Carani described the agreement as "an effort to consolidate and save tax dollars and improve services."

Lake Forest approved the agreement Sept. 4 and the Libertyville Fire Protection District board did so on Monday. That district is party to the agreement because it owns the main station for response.

"We're excited about it. We're trying to sustain and change the way we do business to benefit the residents and the taxpayers," Carani said.

Knollwood solicited Libertyville and Lake Forest in July 2017.

Last December, the communities tendered a joint proposal from Libertyville and Lake Forest. On Aug. 31, the Rockland board approved the agreement but asked the annual contract amount be revised from $472,537 to $450,000, which was done.

The amount will be split by Lake Forest and Libertyville. It will increase to $496,000 on May 1, 2020. The Libertyville Fire Protection District will receive 22.5 percent of Libertyville's share.

Rockland's annual budget had been about $640,000, officials have said.

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