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  1. #1
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    Default Justice firefighters will lose their jobs

    NOTE: Justice utilizies part-time and paid-on-call for staffing. From what I understand the only full-time employee is the fire chief


    Village opts to contract out services; hundreds show up for meeting

    Tuesday, July 12, 2005

    By Stephanie Gehring
    Staff writer


    About 25 members of the Justice Fire Department stood shoulder to shoulder Monday night as the village board decided the fate of their jobs.
    In a 3-to-3 vote that the mayor had to break, the village board agreed to contract out its fire and ambulance services to the Roberts Park Fire Protection District.

    About 400 people turned out for Monday's meeting, forcing the crowd outside.

    The 25 firefighters in attendance along with another 29 will lose their jobs effective Aug. 1 when the district is expected to take over service for all of the village. Roberts Park already serves a portion of Justice.

    Deputy Fire Chief Rick Symondz said the firefighters are going to look for some kind of legal recourse.

    "We will be there," said Symondz who has been with the department for 31 years.

    Justice Mayor Mel VanAllen, crafted the plan as a way for the village to save money.

    Trustees Vicki Kelly, Ed Jurgel and James Gabrys voted in favor of the agreement. Trustees Richard Sparr, Richard Berkowicz and Mike Maruszak voted against it.

    The board also split on approving the appointment of Ernie Spatola as the new fire chief.

    Before the vote, Sparr, who resigned as a firefighter last week to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest, asked that the vote be postponed.

    "Residents are here because they're concerned," said Sparr who served as a firefighter for 26 years.

    Sparr and Maruszak also asked that Kelly's vote not be counted because her husband is a trustee with the Roberts Park Fire Protection District.

    But VanAllen insisted that there was no conflict of interest and later Kelly agreed.

    "People voted for me. I have my own mind," Kelly said.

    She said she cast her vote "to be fiscally responsible."

    Roberts Park's board is expected to vote in favor of the move later this month.

    The crowd often erupted into shouts — many against VanAllen — including one in which some chanted, "Mel's got to go."

    "They did a good job of getting a lot of people out," VanAllen said. "We have 12,193 people in town. I'd guess we had 400 people here tonight —that's not a majority."

    Under the proposal Justice will pay the fire protection district $500,000 for two years and lease the village's equipment and station to the district. At the end of the two years a referendum could appear on the ballot.

    VanAllen said it's a $400,000 cost saving measure because the village spent about $900,000 last year.

    VanAllen quoted an auditor who told the village to trim $1 million from its budget.

    But Sparr and Maruszak disagreed.

    Sparr said the reasons to get rid of the fire department are not financial, but political.

    He said it would only take about $50,000 more for the village to keep its fire department.

    Maruszak, who chairs the finance committee, said VanAllen has his own agenda.

    "When we went into committee (last week) he presented it as, 'this is what I want,'" Maruszak said. "I'm concerned he's going to put us in the hole."


  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber jaybird210's Avatar
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    How does a part-time/POC department spend $900,000 a year? I'm thinking somebody's accounting may be a bit skewed.

    Not to bash these guys, but they needed to be out pounding the pavement as soon as this started rustling in the bushes. This decision wasn't presented as an idea and voted on at one board meeting. They needed to be out in the community knocking on doors and telling the citizens what was being proposed. And you can't just have a bunch of people show up on meeting night; you've got to call those ELECTED officals.

    I am not familiar with Roberts Park, but I'm willing to bet that their response times won't be as good.

    How about they fire all of the cops and contract the police protection to the County? They could do that, too. Would the citizens sit still for that? I'm thinking this little thing was kept real quiet for as long as possible.
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    MembersZone Subscriber lilyogi's Avatar
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    Jay,
    I think you need to run for a politacal office!! Everything that I read in regards to politcal type items you are right on it and everything that you state is so true! I elect Jay for..... Govenor!!!
    Lilyogi

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    Think of it this way. For example, say that I am the mayor of a town that has a municipal fire department that costs $500,000 a year to run. I then contract that service out for $500,000 a year to a fire district for two years. After the two years, I just tell the voters "You might as well approve joining the fire district because you get your service from them anyway." So the voters approve joining the fire district and begin paying a seperate property tax for fire service and the municipality then does not have to pay the $500,000 a year. As the mayor of the town, Do you think I am going to lower the tax levy in the municipality by $500,000 since I no longer have to pay the fire district?? Not a chance. Now the citizens are paying a new property tax for fire protection and I now have $500,000 extra in the municipal budget. Basically, its a tax increase without anyone realizing it.

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    Forum Member MIKEYLIKESIT's Avatar
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    The people that are really getting hosed by this if it occurs (bad pun), are the taxpayers of the Roberts Park FPD.
    IAFF-IACOJ PROUD

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    MembersZone Subscriber jaybird210's Avatar
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    K3 and MIKEY are dead-on.

    It's a real disgrace that the local pols can get away with this $#!+; but we have the same problem here: no one wants to get involved in their local politics unless their neighbor is trimming their bushes or cutting down their trees.
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    Here's the Roberts Park FPD web site: http://www.robertsparkfpd.org/

    Maybe the FFs that lose their part time jobs will get to go full time with the RPFPD.
    I don't know about most other POC FFs, but I don't look at it as a "job". Sure it is, but it's not like they're losing their regular jobs. I'm sure they all have "jobs" and do the FFing thing part time like most of us volunteers or POC people do. There's bound to be more to the story, and the numbers don't add up, unless their paid chief gets a whole lot bigger salary than Jay does.
    The citizens of Justice would probably be better off with a full time department, or at least a combination one where they have some people at the station(s) all the time. It'd be interesting to know how RP plans on manning the Justice stations, or if they're just going to use what they've already got.
    It's good to be in a small, southern town where we don't fight over these things.
    Jack Boczek, Chief
    Ashley Community Fire Protection District

    FLATLANDERS FOREVER!

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    MembersZone Subscriber jaybird210's Avatar
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    ... unless their paid chief gets a whole lot bigger salary than Jay does.
    Omnis Cedo Domus

    www.hinckleyfd.org

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    Forum Member MIKEYLIKESIT's Avatar
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    The whole working "part-time " at a fire department seems to be a very "Chicago area" thing. Downstate and in most of the country you are either paid or volunteer. Simple enough. You guys know me well enough to know that I could really care less about part timers (especailly of the "two-hatted" variety). This will be interesting to see how Roberts Park, with 15 shift personnel along with part-timers is going to handle to additional call volume...Even though the 2 departments respond to many of the same calls (long story). I know a colleague from another area department that is a resident of the RPFPD. He explained to me, that the residents of Justice will be paying less for fire protection then he does. That is why it is such a good deal for Justice. I personally think 500k is not enough to do the job correctly. Justice, so I am told runs around 1500-1600 calls a year. The RPPFPD Trustees have not even voted on this yet. I will be following this. I have no real opinion one way or the other. If I had my say so I would work on establishing a regional fire department here in Southern Cook County. If it ever happens though, it will be over the heads of the Mayors and chiefs. They certainly don't want it. The people will have to push for it.
    IAFF-IACOJ PROUD

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    We and most of the depts. down here are POC, some make more than others. While it's not much, I've gotten $1,000+/yr for the past few years. I would venture to say that more than 70% of the guys get something for making a call so they are not technically volunteers. Some call it a reimbursement, others call it something else to avoid taxes, etc. We call ours a salary and get a w2 at the end of the year and have to pay income tax on it so we are not volunteers.
    I know it's getting off the track of Justice and RP but I often think about our county going to a county department instead of 6 separate FPDs. It's an interesting idea but it wouldn't fly for the reasons Mike mentioned. Too much politics.
    Jack Boczek, Chief
    Ashley Community Fire Protection District

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  11. #11
    Forum Member MIKEYLIKESIT's Avatar
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    I didnt realize you guys were POC Jack. You learn something new everyday. Up here POC/ Part timers can make a pretty good buck. I was opne myself from 18-23. the only time I volunteerd was when I was a cadet from 15-18. There are very very few true volunteer departments around here. Anybody know of any?
    IAFF-IACOJ PROUD

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    We don't get a lot - guys get $7/hr (chiefie does get a little more) but it does make a decent check for Christmas if they make a majority of the calls. I do know of several true volunteer departments around here, but most are POC. I even know of one that used to charge their FFs to be on the dept. Now that's being truly dedicated.
    Jack Boczek, Chief
    Ashley Community Fire Protection District

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  13. #13
    MembersZone Subscriber jaybird210's Avatar
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    Default Interesting conversation

    Jeez, Jack, you guys make the same as we do. I'm moving'.....

    Mikey, I know that the Kaneville Fire Department is strictly volunteer. They are the only ones I know of out this direction.

    There has been talk here of a county-wide ambulance service. It's mostly been pushed by a department that does not have an ambulance and contracts with the neighboring town, in the amount of nearly $250,000/yr, for ambulance service. I think the idea has some merits, but I don't think it'll ever happen. The biggest problem for us is: where do you station the ambos? And what will the residents of my district say when they find out that our ambulance will now be coming from 10-15 minutes away (in good weather)? As a resident, I don't think I'd like that very much.

    There's never been any serious talk of a county-wide fire district. I can see the merits of that, too, but like MIKEY said, too much politics. The chiefs of all the samll towns don't want to give up their little serf-doms. And, DeKalb and Sycamore are currently bitching about subsidizing the fire dispatch system (through 911 fees); I can only imagine the squabbling about who pays and how much.....
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    Forum Member kprsn1's Avatar
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    I'm moving too Jack!! We don't get paid for fire calls which includes structures, brush, 10-50s, etc. However, as EMT's we do get paid for medical ambulance calls and transfers. If a truck rolls with the ambulance it's now considered a fire call and no pay. Not that I care, I'd go anyway and besides that's just more flashing lights for me to look at!!

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    Let me help answer some questions for you…..

    Q-How does a part-time/POC department spend $900,000 a year? I'm thinking somebody's accounting may be a bit skewed.

    A-That’s a lie….The budget was looked at vary carefully. The mayor is giving false information to the public. It will come out soon enough….

    Q-Not to bash these guys, but they needed to be out pounding the pavement as soon as this started rustling in the bushes. This decision wasn't presented as an idea and voted on at one board meeting. They needed to be out in the community knocking on doors and telling the citizens what was being proposed. And you can't just have a bunch of people show up on meeting night; you've got to call those ELECTED officials.

    A-The mayor and the chief of the RPFD were secretly meeting on this issue. The firefighter’s found the information out on Friday (when it leaked out) and were out passing fliers on Friday night. They only had two days to react and there was allot of media and resident’s there for the little time they had.

    Q-How about they fire all of the cops and contract the police protection to the County? They could do that, too. Would the citizens sit still for that? I'm thinking this little thing was kept real quiet for as long as possible.

    A-They mayor said they are next!

    Q-Now the citizens are paying a new property tax for fire protection and I now have $500,000 extra in the municipal budget. Basically, it’s a tax increase without anyone realizing it.

    A-They made sure the residents are aware of this and will make sure they are aware of it in two years. We also, don’t expect the same trustee (that voted against this) will be in office….or we will make sure to get the public to vote against them. Half the town is already paying double tax…AND DIDN’T REALIZE IT.


    Q-Maybe the FFs that lose their part time jobs will get to go full time with the RPFPD.

    A-Not likely. Nuff said.

    Q-It'd be interesting to know how RP plans on manning the Justice stations, or if they're just going to use what they've already got.

    A-They are getting full use of Justice Fire Department’s house and equipment…Also, according to the mayor…after two years they can take "Justice" off the engine and put Robert’s Park FD on them.

    The Deputy Chief was promoted to Chief…of 54 non-working FF’s. Still don't understand that one. Two year deal of being a chief of nothing.

    This is not based on saving money….it’s based on politics.
    Last edited by jmylea; 07-20-2005 at 01:59 PM.

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    MembersZone Subscriber jaybird210's Avatar
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    And now we now the rest of the story.

    Fight the good fight, brother, with all thy might.
    Omnis Cedo Domus

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    Yep, now we do know almost all of the story. Sounds like a bad deal all around. Down in St. Louis there's a reporter on KTVI, Channel 2. He does a segment called "you paid for it", mostly digging into government stupidity. That's what Justice needs now - a TV station that will dig into it and get the real story out to the public.
    Jack Boczek, Chief
    Ashley Community Fire Protection District

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  18. #18
    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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    Unhappy NICE.......................... .(from Mikey)

    Firehouse vandalized after crew loses jobs


    Tuesday, August 2, 2005




    By Daniel Duggan
    Staff writer


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Boots filled with beer cans, chicken wings and ranch dressing greeted Roberts Park Fire Protection District firefighters Monday when they took over for the now-abolished Justice Fire Department.
    A dirty diaper was hung from the rafters, furniture was missing from the Justice firehouse and keys were broken off in several locks.

    "I'm very disappointed in the lack of professionalism with the way they went out," Justice Mayor Melvin VanAllen said.

    Some firefighters who attended a farewell party at the fire station Sunday night said they didn't witness any vandalism. Others condemned the behavior.

    "The guys were hurt and mad, but this is no way to go out," former Deputy Chief Rick Symonds said.

    The Justice Village Board voted July 11 to contract out its fire services. VanAllen said the move will save the village $400,000 a year by paying the Roberts Park Fire Protection District to provide services.

    Symonds said there is no excuse for vandalism, but there is an explanation for the missing furniture.

    The Justice Firefighters Association has collected dues to pay for items not provided by the fire department, such as couches, coffee makers and television sets.

    Dan Johnson, the association's treasurer, said instead of leaving the items behind for Roberts Park, the group donated them to the Willow Springs Fire Department.

    "We're not going to leave that stuff there," Johnson said. "They bought that for themselves with their dues, they didn't buy it for the village."

    VanAllen said some large pieces of equipment, such as a stretcher used for moving people up flights of stairs, was not accounted for.

    Justice Police Department Deputy Chief Tom Bockmann said police are documenting a list of items vandalized or missing. Over the next few days, he said, police will investigate whether items were stolen and if charges are appropriate.

    "Some of the stuff is obviously mischief," he said. "Other stuff is not so funny."

    For example, Brockmann said, keys were broken off in the locks of several doors. The door knobs on the inside of the doors also were taken off, so a person could have been trapped.

    Johnson said VanAllen is lying about the damage.

    "We all made a conscious effort to clean up after ourselves," he said. "We were not going to go out on a bad note."

    He also denied VanAllen's claim that people at the party were drinking alcohol despite a prohibition on having alcohol at the party.

    Trustee Richard Sparr, who was a part-time firefighter until one month ago, was at the party and would not comment on whether people were drinking.

    "I won't say either way," he said. "I will say no one on duty was drinking."

    The firefighters on duty overnight could not be reached for comment.

    Symonds said the men on duty didn't have a lazy night, rather they took four people to area hospitals after a traffic crash at 11 a.m. They put out a trash bin fire at 1 a.m. and responded to a carbon monoxide detector that went off at 6 a.m., no one was injured in either incident.

    After the Roberts Park Fire Protection District took over at 7 a.m., Fire Chief Bill Doherty said the new crew quickly got to work.

    Part-time firefighters spent the day giving rooms in the fire station at 7800 Archer Avenue a fresh coat of paint and a thorough cleaning. He said every piece of equipment must be tested and inventoried to ensure it is in good working order.

    "Our goal is to come in here, be professional and provide quality fire protection," he said.
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  19. #19
    Forum Member JackTee09's Avatar
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    Just curious - why the vandelism?
    Jacktee

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    MembersZone Subscriber jaybird210's Avatar
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    Originally posted by...: ME!
    Fight the good fight, brother, with all thy might.
    So much for that plan......
    Omnis Cedo Domus

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