OFPD President calls for firefighters to live in the district
OFPD, Orland Park – Orland Fire Protection District President Jim Hickey said he will said he will propose a residency requirement for the district’s firefighters and employees to improve safety and employee awareness for the district’s needs.
Hickey, who has been working with the new board majority to cut costs while maintain services, said that the move would help to increase fire safety response especially in catastrophic incidents.
Currently, firefighters are permitted to live anywhere within a 25 mile radius of the district’s borders. Only 27 percent of the District 146 employees live in the district. Hickey said requiring firefighters to live in the district was also a demonstration of the employee’s commitment to the community.
“There are many benefits to having the fire district employees living in the district where they work. Some of the benefits are subtle others are significant.” Hickey said.
“But in every case, living in the district benefits our community and results in improved safety for our residents.”
Hickey said that one obvious advantage is that firefighters will be in the district when they are working and when they are off-duty. That decreases response time in the event that more firefighters are needed/
“Just having them around when something happens is an asset to the people they have been hired to protect,” Hickey said.
“Firefighters who live in the community where they work have a stronger and closer attachment to the community and they better know the needs of the district better than those who don’t live in the district.”
Hickey said another advantage is that district jobs will stay with district residents.
“Of the 11 firefighters who were on the recent hiring list, every one of them was from outside of the district,” Hickey said.
“The other advantage is to the community itself. These firefighters are paid from taxes collected from the community. They will spend that money right here in the community in terms of maintaining homes, providing for their families and also in their recreation.”
Hickey said he was exploring all options but believed that the proposal may only apply to future hires.
“We may have to grandfather all of the firefighters into this allowing those who are not outside of the district to continue to live outside of the district. But it is something we are carefully exploring with legal,” Hickey said.
Hickey said he will raise the issue when contract negotiations begin for a new contract for firefighters.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Ray Hanania
Wednesday April 18, 2012 firstname.lastname@example.org