Union Demands Negotiation Over Changes
By Tom Robb
February 17, 2021
Glenview village officials announced last week a fire department plan to “reallocate resources” and close Fire Station No. 13 at 831 East Lake Ave., decreasing a fire engine and adding ambulances. Changes would take effect in April. Firefighters were made aware of the specific changes in a Feb. 8 memo from Fire Chief Tony DeRose to fire department employees, later obtained by the Journal.
The village issued a general press release Tuesday, Feb. 9 detailing elements of the fire department reallocation plan, but did not release DeRose’s memo, until it was requested by reporters.
Union officials said they have concerns about closing Station No. 13 impacting levels of service on the east side of Glenview, saying, “Removing a resource from the system, against the advice of the hired experts, will mean people wait longer in an emergency,” a Friday, Feb. 12 fire department union press release said.
Village officials said Glenview Firefighters Local 4186 Union President Jesse Gallagher demanded a meeting with village officials over the decision to close Station 13, as a matter of collective bargaining. DeRose said in his memo, “(the) Village does not concede or otherwise admit that it has any legal obligation to bargain over those matters or the new deployment model described in this memo, the village is willing to meet and listen to any proposals the IAFF (union) would like to present.”
Gallagher said he was working to schedule a meeting. A village spokeswoman said she understands the meeting is scheduled for next week.
Many were made aware Station 13 was set for closure after village trustees discussed a consultant’s study of the fire department at their Tuesday, Feb. 2 village board meeting. At that meeting, trustees chose one of six cost savings and efficiency options to “reallocate resources” from Station 13.
The new plan, which DeRose’s memo says changes are tentatively scheduled to take effect Thursday, April 1, would take one fire engine out of service and add one 24-hour ambulance, and move a second ambulance at Station No. 8 from being in service daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to be in service 24 hours a day. Part of the change comes from another part of the recommended changes, also approved by trustees, allowing “medical priority dispatch” to be used. Currently, an ambulance and fire engine are both dispatched to every emergency medical service (EMS) call. Medical priority dispatch would have public safety dispatchers ask questions to determine the severity of a medical call and could dispatch only an ambulance to a minor incident.
Firefighters have been critical of medical priority dispatch, saying people calling 911 in crisis might not always provide a fully accurate picture of an incident. “This new deployment model would not result in any layoffs or reductions in force,” DeRose said in his memo. “Nor would it affect the total number of company officers in the fire department. The department would still maintain the current count of three captains and 12 lieutenants.” The memo and a consultant’s report said medical calls have increased over time while fires have decreased.