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Fire service sharing study planned

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ANN MARIE AMES
May 20, 2009
— Three of four Walworth County communities have committed to a study of possible shared fire services in Delavan and Darien.

The Delavan Town Board decided Tuesday it doesn't have enough information to commit to the study, Chairwoman Dorothy Burwell said. The town's fire committee will call a special meeting to get more information, she said.


The study could determine if it's possible for the city of Delavan, village of Darien and towns of Darien and Delavan to share emergency services in the future. The Delavan City Council, Darien Village Board and Darien Town Board already have committed to the study.


Representatives from the communities and their emergency response departments have formed an ad hoc committee that has been meeting for more than a year.


The committee will meet and discuss the results of the communities' votes at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Darien Town Hall, N2826 Foundry Road, Darien.


Shared services could include a building or equipment, Darien Town Board Chairman Cecil Logterman said. It also could include training and possible changes to boundaries for the departments involved, Delavan Fire Chief Neil Flood said.


"We're trying to be proactive," Logterman said.


The ad hoc committee estimated the study would cost $33,600, Logterman said. Split four ways, the cost would be about $8,400 per municipality.


If the town of Delavan decides not to participate, it might change the scope of the study or it could just mean less money for the ad hoc committee to spend on the study, Logterman said.


But it doesn't necessarily mean the study won't happen, he said.


The study is not intended to change any ongoing plans for new fire stations in the communities, Logterman said.


But if, in the future, the communities want to work together to build a shared station or find other ways to share emergency services, the data will be there for all to use, Logterman said.


A regional study could help site individual departments, Logterman said.


"To me, (the ad hoc committee's discussion is) a step forward," he said. "That's going to help my board make a decision with the village about where to locate a new station."


Fire studies already underway

Three fire departments currently serve the city of Delavan, the village of Darien and the towns of Darien and Delavan.


The communities are in different points of the process of replacing their stations.


-- The city of Delavan has created a task force to tackle the fire station issue.


In January, the city council saw conceptual plans for a station near the current one at 220 S. Seventh St., Delavan. A likely location would be in part of a city-owned lot on Ann Street between Harrison and Seventh streets, Chief Neil Flood said.


The city has needed a new department since Flood took over as chief in 1983, he said. The current department is housed in an automobile agency that was built in 1948, Flood said. The building is small, poorly ventilated and has inadequate parking, among other things, he said.


The city has plans for borrowing money in 2010 for construction, Flood said.


At first, Flood was worried a study of shared services could delay the city's plans for a new station. But, as long as the city keeps working on building a new, main station in the central part of the city, Flood likes the idea of a regional study.


-- The Darien station last was studied in 2006, Darien Town Board Chairman Cecil Logterman said. The station serves the village and Darien Township.


The last study determined a new station is needed, but the location is still under discussion, he said.


The four-community feasibility study could help, he said.


"The village and town of Darien do need a new facility," Logterman said. "Where we go from here, that's another question."


-- While more space would be nice in the Town of Delavan Fire Department's main station on Townhall Road, the town is not working actively on plans for a new station, Chief Jerry Edwards said.


The town has three satellite stations around Delavan Lake, he said.



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