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Communities approve fire study

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Kayla Bunge
February 17, 2009
— The village board Monday night approved hiring a consulting firm to study options for fire protection in Williams Bay, Geneva Township and Linn Township.

One option might be creating a joint fire district.


The study by McGrath Consulting Group of Wonder Lake, Ill., which specializes in emergency services studies, carries a $16,845 price tag, which will be split equally among the three municipalities.


"This is our first step," said Maggie Gage, chairwoman of the protective services committee. "It should give us a basis to evaluate our own departments and our relationships with one another."


The study is expected to address the capabilities of each fire department, current and future needs and staffing, equipment and fire station requirements.


Gage said the study is supposed to result in a number of broad-based options.


"We're not looking by the study to dictate an outcome," she said. "Instead, we're looking by the study to have several possibilities."


Gage said options range from maintaining the status quo to forming a joint fire district.


"The fact of the matter is, until we see that study, none of us really has any idea what they might consider option," she said.


The three municipalities have been discussing the possibility of sharing services since October because of the unique situations in each community.


Geneva Township, which doesn't have its own fire department, is served by the Lake Geneva, Elkhorn and Williams Bay fire departments for coverage.


Linn Township, which has its own fire department, relies on the Williams Bay Fire Department for assistance in responding to calls on the north shore of Geneva Lake, which separates the township.


As such, the Williams Bay Fire Department also is stretched thin.


Gage said the No. 1 concern of each of the three municipalities is improving fire protection in the area.


The Geneva and Linn town boards Feb. 9 approved hiring McGrath to conduct the study. Approval from the Williams Bay Village Board was the last step.


The study is expected to take 22 weeks.


Gage said she believe each municipality is going into the study without preconceived notions—and saying plans are moving forward for a proposed joint fire district are presumptuous.


"Even if it does work out, that's not the step we're working on right now," she said. "That brings into the discussion things that aren't ready to be discussed."



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