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Richmond Fire Chief Rick Gallas presented ideas he and the other three chiefs had developed prior to Saturday's meeting.
“Whenever you think of consolidation, everyone has their own idea of what it is,” Gallas said. “We already have 12-plus years of successful experience working together.”
Gallas said the four districts – Spring Grove Fire Protection District, Richmond Township Fire Protection District, Wonder Lake Fire Protection District and Hebron-Alden-Greenwood Fire Protection District – were previously able to reduce costs and improve public safety in the area by forming the Fire North Quad, which developed mutual and automatic aid responses and consolidated dispatch.
Gallas coined the phrase "Fire North Alliance" for the newest proposed consolidation, consisting of a single chief, similar policies, sharing equipment, joint purchasing, coordinated training and sharing employees.
In a handout, Gallas described functional consolidation as a process in which one or more of the districts enter into an agreement to work together to save taxpayer dollars. The districts can retain their individual identities, tax rates, boards and more.
“This process might take a couple years to full iron out the details," the handout stated. "It could start with the chief, as the chiefs of Richmond and Spring Grove are set to retire in late 2018/early 2019.”
Gallas used the West Suburban Fire/Rescue Alliance, made up of the Wheaton Fire Department and fire protection districts of Carol Stream, Winfield and West Chicago, as an example of what the districts could potentially do. Their alliance is not a consolidation, but an effort to improve efficiency, Gallas said.