Fire department decision may hinge on cost to build
Village of Park Ridge officials will determine which direction to take to address Fire Department needs next month, and that direction could depend on the costs involved.
Village President Kathy Budelier said she is in contact with engineers and contractors to get some preliminary numbers and information on state standards for construction and what that building costs would look like should leaders decide to move ahead with a new truck bay.
The board discussed their next steps and a potential timeline to address the space and engine needs Monday, April 18. Budelier planned to meet with engineers and contractors this week.
Board members agreed to vote on two options at its May 16 meeting. A new timeline will be developed from that decision as well, although it could take six months to receive a replacement engine once ordered, according to Fire Chief Brian Lepper.
The process is taking longer than board members anticipated, but they want to make sure they are moving in the right direction for the village, they said.
“As much as the village and department would like to have this happen yesterday, I think a lot has been done,” board member Jim LaMar said. “I feel pretty good about where we’re at. Things are moving and that’s what’s important.”
Board members have been looking into options for replacing old engines since October 2015. Rather than approving purchase of a new engine and customizing other trucks, village leaders decided to include options that would take the department into the future, including whether to disband and contract services from Stevens Point and building a new bay to accommodate newer, more updated equipment and ease some of the existing space constraints.
Board members cut four options to two at their April 6 meeting, eliminating the options to contract with Stevens Point for services or replacing only one fire engine.
The two remaining options are replace Engine 1 and convert the existing Engine 1 into a hose wagon or build a new vehicle bay building, replace Engine 1 and convert the existing Engine 1 into a hose wagon.
Replacing and converting has a preliminary cost of about $240,000. Of that, about $220,000 is estimated for replacing Engine 1. Whatever vehicle the village purchased for the replacement in this option would have to be customized to fit in the existing bay.
To replace Engine 1, convert and build a new bay building, preliminary cost figures hit about $270,000. Constructing the stand-alone building is estimated at $170,000, purchasing a used engine with the same capabilities as the existing truck is estimated between $60,000 and $100,000, and converting the existing Engine 1 to a hose wagon is estimated at $20,000.
The village has three vehicles that operate for fire department functions. Engine 1 is a 1994 International that has a 1,250-gallon per minute pump, 1,000 gallons of water and four self-contained breathing apparatus; it is the primary vehicle for putting water on a fire.
Engine 2, the hose wagon, is a 1980 Chevrolet with a 450-gallon per minute pump, 800 gallons of water, two self-contained breathing apparatus, and 2,900 feet of hose. The primary function of this engine is to bring the water to Engine 1 through the hose from the nearest fire hydrant to the location it is needed. The need to replace this hose wagon spurred the discussion on what the village might do long-term to address the needs of the Fire Department.
The third vehicle is the squad, a 1974 International which serves as crew transport, command, power/lighting, firefighter accountability and rehabilitation, air supply, and also holds mechanic’s tools, a cascade system to refill water bottles, a kitchen area with refrigerator, computer/internet/printer, multiple radios and other command and control equipment.
The Park Ridge Fire Department has 17 firefighters and responds not only to fires and fire complaints in the village but also surrounding areas.
For example, Sunday the department provided mutual aid to town of Stockton, and during that response received a call from a Park Ridge resident concerned about an uncontrolled burn.
Residents who have questions or want to weigh in on the Fire Department’s future are welcome to contact the Village Hall or board members. Budelier said the village will keep residents updated as well.