Weekend rallies planned to protest closing of Streamwood fire station

Published: 4/29/2010 12:03 AM

Residents frustrated with what they called the abrupt closing of a Streamwood fire station will rally on Saturday and Sunday.

Rally organizer Matthew Dobson said he wished village officials gave residents more notice when they closed the fire station on Park Boulevard earlier this month.

"I was shocked, because I would have thought they would have told residents more," he said.

Dobson feels the area around the shuttered station, which will continue to host departmental training, is underserved and that response times to emergencies would increase. He started a Facebook page to keep the station open and it has received more than 900 supporters. The rallys will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., he said.

Village Manager Gary O'Rourke said the moves actually make the department more efficient.

"We do not believe we have diminished the ability to respond to the safety needs of our residents; in fact we believe we are providing a better response," O'Rourke said.

Village officials closed the station on April 1 and reassigned the firefighters to the village's other two stations. The move allows the department to add a member aboard fire engines crews, going from two to three. Three-member crews don't have to wait for backup before entering a burning building, while two-member crews had to wait for additional units.

Dobson lauded the three-member crews and said it increases safety for firefighters. He wished the village could both staff three-member crews and reopen the station.

Deputy Fire Chief Mark Hudson said that's not possible with the 49 firefighters currently employed.

"The employee pool provides us with 10 firefighter/paramedics and a battalion chief on a day-to-day basis," he said. "With that staffing we have chosen to operate out of two stations."

O'Rourke said the village would review how the new staffing plan worked. He also stressed that, contrary to recent comments from residents, the village hasn't laid off firefighters.

"I think the key component to all of this is the professional fire command team reviewed this operation and recommended this to more effectively response to the public safety needs of the residents of Streamwood," he said.

However, Trustee Jason Speer echoed Dobson's concerns about how quickly officials closed the station. He said it was briefly mentioned at a March board meeting.

"There was no warning, no board input on the closing," he said.

O'Rourke said the matter was discussed at budget workshops. He added that the village acted appropriately.

"There are many things that happen every day that we don't provide notice for; we're certainly not trying to hide anything," he said.