Consultants recommend joint fire station for three Walworth County municipalities
A study suggests the fire and rescue services in Williams Bay, Geneva Township and Linn Township form a partnership and build a joint station at Highway 50 and Geneva Street to better serve the area.
Tim McGrath of McGrath Consulting Group of Wonder Lake, Ill., the consultant who did the study, will present his findings to officials from the three municipalities along with local residents at an informational meeting Saturday, Dec. 5.
The three municipalities for more than a year have been discussing the possibility of sharing emergency services because of the unique situations in each community.
Geneva Township, which doesn’t have its own fire/rescue department, is served by the Lake Geneva, Elkhorn and Williams Bay departments for coverage. It pays more than $240,000 to those municipalities each year.
Linn Township, which has its own fire/rescue department, relies on the Williams Bay department for assistance in responding to calls on the north shore of Geneva Lake, which separates the township. It pays about $25,000 to the village each year.
As such, the Williams Bay fire and rescue departments are stretched thin.
McGrath Consulting recommends in its study that the three municipalities form a partnership to provide emergency coverage to an area that includes the entire village of Williams Bay; the southern part of Geneva Township, including the Geneva National community; and the parts of Geneva and Linn townships between Lake Como and Geneva Lake.
The consultant also recommends the municipalities build a joint fire station at Highway 50 and Geneva Street, which is estimated to cost between $800,000 and $1 million.
The consultant further recommends the municipalities staff the station with full-time responders at all times and augment it with volunteers at other times.
The full-time personnel would be dually certified as firefighters and emergency medical technicians and would be employed by an outside company that provides emergency personnel.
McGrath suggests that staffing could be accomplished in a number of ways—from contracting for one to five responders, who would work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to contracting for two or three responders, who would work 10-hour shifts either five or seven days a week.
McGrath believes the municipalities would not have trouble scheduling volunteers to work supplemental shifts.
The various staffing options come at total costs that range from about $180,000 to more than $230,000, but do not include the costs of paying volunteers to fill additional shifts.
The consultant recommends all building and staffing be evenly split among the municipalities.
Operational expenses either could be evenly shared or proportionally shared based on the number of calls in each municipality.
McGrath writes that if fire/rescue services are housed within the proposed coverage area, they would respond to calls an average of more than 260 times a year based on data from the last four years. More than 80 percent of those calls would be in Williams Bay; the rest would be in Geneva or Linn townships.
“The consultants … believe it is a win-win for all three communities—especially for the residents of the study area,” the study says.
IF YOU GO
What: Informational meeting about a study of joint emergency services in Williams Bay, Geneva Township and Linn Township.
When: 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 5.
Where: Room “Aspen 4,” The Lodge at Geneva Ridge, W4240 Highway 50, Lake Geneva.