Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Orland Fire Official Presidents says district has more cuts to make

Bookmark and Share

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                            Ray Hanania
Wednesday March 28, 2012                                              

Orland Fire Official Presidents says district has more cuts to make

Orland Fire Protection District President James Hickey said that the board faces a decision to reduce spending by cutting equipment or by raising taxes, but said he opposes proposals raised by members of the public suggesting one of the district’s six ambulances be eliminated.

Hickey said the options that have been discussed including cutting of one the district’s six Ambulances, one of the district’s engines, laying off employees or raising taxes at Tuesday’s board meeting.

During the meeting, Orland Park Village Trustee Pat Gira said she opposed trimming an ambulance but offered no solutions to the district’s problems. Hickey responded later that the Village should consider taking over the Fire Prevention department’s 5 employees since revenues collected from tickets issued by that division go to the Village.

But Hickey said that he opposes cutting back an ambulance but might recommend that the choice be put to voters on a referendum.

“I don’t want to cut any service but we have to either cut a truck, an ambulance, fire prevention, or even raise taxes to cover our expenses,” Hickey said after the meeting.

“If we have to do something, I would rather trade a truck for an ambulance. The biggest service the Orland Fire Protection District provides is ambulance and life support services to our residents.”

Hickey said that am ambulance costs about $1 million and with 25,000 households, it would mean a tax increase of $40 per year.

“The challenge we have is that about 90 percent of the costs of fire service are for wages and salaries and that is locked in with the unions right now. We are going to begin negotiations with the unions and they understand our situation. Mandated pay raises last year cost the taxpayers about $600,000 for 110 union employees,” Hickey said.

“We had two people who came to the board saying they didn’t want to cut an ambulance, including Trustee Gira. But I wonder what they would support doing as opposed to increasing property taxes. The issue is how do we cut back costs rather than increase taxes in order to continue with our mission which is to save lives? An ambulance saves more lives.”

On other issues, Hickey said that he expects the board to have the names of five finalists for the position of permanent Fire Chief and select a permanent chief sometime in May. Hickey said the board has received more than 40 resumes including from Acting Fire Chief Raymond Kay, the only member of the Orland Fire Prevention District to apply in the public call.

“We did receive resumes from firefighters who live in Orland Park but who work elsewhere. We even had one resume from a candidate who thought he was applying to be the chief of Orlando, Florida. He kept asking, why did he have to fly to O’Hare for an interview? Needless to say, he’s not on our list,” Hickey said.

“There are a lot of very qualified candidates, including Chief Kay. Chief Kay’s resume is phenomenal and he has done a great job stepping up to the plate to fill the vacancy created when Chief Bryant Krizik departed.

Hickey also said that the Fire District is again looking for applicants for the Summer Internship Program.

“They must be at least 16 years of age. This is a good program to instill a love and appreciation for the Fire District in our young people,” Hickey said.

Hickey said that he expects to hire all of the Intern applicants as he did last year.

“We have a certain number of hours and we want to give everyone a chance to learn and benefit the Fire District,” Hickey said.