River Forest firefighters, and perhaps even police, will use a Taylor’d Containers “prop” for hands-on training after the village board approved its purchase on Jan. 23.

With an eye toward saving time and money, the River Forest Village Board voted unanimously, Jan. 23, to purchase a training prop for the fire department.

Cost for the prop, which will be purchased from Taylor’d Containers of Spokane Valley, Wash., is $57,000. Finance Director Rosie McAdams said the purchase will be covered from the general fund since it was not included in the capital plan.

Fire Chief Tom Gaertner, who addressed the board via Zoom since he was out of town, explained that the prop is a converted shipping container. 

“It’s very important for us since we are severely lacking in training,” he said. “It’s an outstanding system.”

Addressing the village board, Fire Lt. David Bochenek noted that the prop will be on wheels to make it portable. With a total footprint of 12-by-8 feet, the prop not only fits a standard parking space but also is small enough to be kept indoors in the firehouse during the winter. He said the prop will likely be moved outdoors to a village parking lot near village hall for summer use.

In a memo to Village President Cathy Adduci, Gaertner said the department has no mechanisms for training onsite. He said the closest hands-on training location is at the south end of Cicero. When there is off-site training, the department needs to hire back off-duty personal for station coverage, which creates overtime costs.

Training on the prop will not be limited to the fire department.

The prop also “offers an opportunity for police training,” according to Gaertner, and Bochenek said it “would also enhance paramedic training.”

Bochenek added that the prop is expected to last at least 20 years. The company is new to the market and is a single source vendor at this time. He predicted interest in such props will increase competition and sales, which will drive the price higher.

“There is a financial benefit and a time benefit,” he said. “This will allow us to train in-house and keep overtime costs low.”

Village Administrator Brian Murphy supported the purchase, saying the prop “fits our environment well.” 

In his memo, Gaertner said purchase of the prop would enable the fire department to coordinate a hands-on junior fire academy in conjunction with the junior police academy.

Having the prop onsite, he added, will allow department leadership to react quickly to potential inefficiency or ineffectiveness of tactics since correcting tactics in a timely fashion ensures proper responses to emergencies.

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