OP finds funds for fire truck

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By Anna Lothson

Staff Reporter

Oak Park wasn't able to keep its partnership with River Forest to operate its jointly purchased fire truck — per the decision of River Forest village officials — but Oak Park will move forward with purchasing a new truck with some newfound savings.

Oak Park Fire Chief Thomas Ebsen reported to the village board last week that the "quint" fire truck purchased jointly by the villages in 2001 will be sold soon and the money will be divvyed up between the two towns. It will be up to a committee to determine how the proceeds from the truck sale will be split up, Ebsen said. The quint aerial fire truck was purchased for just over $534,000.

Oak Park's new ladder truck is set to cost roughly $825,202, but with the proceeds from selling the quint, and funding provided by the Foreign Insurance Board, the total cost to the village in its 2014 budget will be significantly less. With leadership from Oak Park's deputy fire chief, the village was able to secure the $200,000 grant toward the purchase of the truck; the sale of the quint could yield roughly $160,000, which would be split between Oak Park and River Forest.

This brings Oak Park's end cost on the new truck closer to the $550,000 mark.

Ebsen said Oak Park likely received the $200,000 from the Foreign Insurance Board because of the unexpected cost burden Oak Park was faced with when River Forest informed Oak Park it would be canceling the intergovernmental agreement. River Forest was not offered funding through the Foreign Insurance Board, but it was able to secure a $600,000 federal grant to purchase its own quint truck.

Under the agreement, Oak Park paid the costs of staffing the truck at all times and responded to any River Forest incidents involving structure fires, smoke in a building, and automatic fire alarms in commercial or educational buildings. River Forest paid half the maintenance costs and received the truck on average about 5 percent of the time, but Ebsen said River Forest only needed it that amount of time.

According to a previous report given by the chief, the 2012 costs for the truck operation ran Oak Park $425,000 for a crew of three to staff the truck on a daily basis and roughly $6,000 in fuel. River Forest paid $16,000 that year in maintenance costs.

The shared quint is set to be sold sometime in 2014. Selling the truck also ends the intergovernmental agreement that initially had a termination date of 2019.

Email: anna@oakpark.com Twitter: @AnnaLothson

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Tom from Oak Park  

Posted: October 18th, 2013 12:06 PM

The facts should be checked on this article. As far as I know, Oak Park FD did not increase it's staffing upon the purchase of the truck, River Forest's foreign fire tax board did agree to pay a portion of the new truck and WHY must a NEW truck be purchased just because River Forest is out of this agreement?

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: October 16th, 2013 4:51 PM

@Kurt, If you look at Item J of the minutes from March 4th's board meeting--it was the previous board who approved this expenditure --(http://www.oak-park.us/sites/default/files/village-board-agendas/2013-agendas/minutes/03.04.13-board-minutes.pdf) the Fire Chief stated the 13-year old quint had a 15-year life expectancy.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: October 16th, 2013 4:26 PM

Bridgett - thanks for the clarification. It just seems like OP got the short end of the deal according to the numbers in this article.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: October 16th, 2013 4:24 PM

@Done, from what I gathered at the Village Board meeting, where the OP Fire Chief spoke, in order to be eligible for the $600K federal grant the municipality could not have owned a fire truck. Technically, RF didn't own a fire truck. So RF was eligible, and OP, who did own a fire truck, was not.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: October 16th, 2013 3:02 PM

"With leadership from Oak Park's deputy fire chief, the village was able to secure the $200,000 grant toward the purchase of the truck." River Forest secured a $600,000 grant towards a new truck. Am I wrong or did RF do a better job at getting a grant than OP?

Kurt from Oak Park  

Posted: October 16th, 2013 1:55 PM

The intergovernmental agreement was set to run through 2019. Reading between the lines, the current quint has about six more years of useful life. Couldn't Oak Park just have bought out River Forest and kept the quint for six more years? It sounds like Oak Park's check to River Forest would have been about $50,000. That's a lot cheaper than spending $550,000 on a new truck.

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