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Let's Talk Some Truth About Station 13

From 2019 – 2020, Village of Glenview paid Fitch & Associates $59,995 to do a utilization study of the Glenview Fire Department. Fitch made 12 recommendations for the fire department to consider. None of those recommendations were to close a station or cut anything.

At the September 15, 2020 village board meeting, Fitch & Associates presented their final report to the village board. Village President Jim Patterson asked if Glenview should close Station 13. Fitch said NO. It was absolutely clear.

The study also said we shouldn’t have fewer than 22 people working during the day, and the new plan wants to cut that to 21. It doesn’t sound like much, but this work is labor-intensive. You can’t do more with less. You can only do less with less.

We, the Glenview Firefighters know this is wrong for Glenview and wrong for public safety. No one who has worked on this department for more than two years is for this move. This is supported by the Village Manager, who has worked here for three years and has never lived here, and the Fire Chief, who has only been here one year, and got his job because he’s a friend of the village manager. Not one of our experienced leaders supports this dangerous change.

The village says this will have no impact. That’s crazy. In our profession, response times matter. A minute matters. Seconds matter. When the village closed station 13 for almost four months in 2020, people died in incidents with longer response times because of that closure. These were time-sensitive incidents where a minute really could have made a difference.

The first full year that station was open was 2005. It was placed there to reduce response times to the East side of Glenview. That year, Engine 13 responded to over 1,300 incidents. In 2019, it responded to over 1,200 incidents. After spending millions building the station, it’s doing exactly what it was designed for. Nothing has changed, so why close it?

In 2019, we needed an ambulance from out of town 240 times. But Engine 13 ran over 1,200 calls. So why would we add an ambulance and shut down a fire truck?

We know it’s our slowest area. But it was built for a specific reason: to improve our time to respond to emergencies. It still does that. And it’s the closest back-up to a very busy station on Waukegan Rd. So, to the residents east of the Metra tracks, when the busiest station is on another emergency, how long do you want to wait if you’re choking, or having a heart attack, or you have a fire in your kitchen, or you’re injured in a car crash? That’s why Engine 13 is there, for your safety. That’s why this terrible idea must be stopped.

All Glenview fire trucks are staffed with licensed paramedics, with all of the training and equipment to be the first to respond to any medical emergency. They also are ready for a fire, a crash, a gas leak, a power line down, a water rescue, and all of the other things we respond to.

The village manager and board want versatility. That fire engine is the most versatile vehicle in our fleet. It is our multi-hazard vehicle. That fire engine, and the professionals on it, are ready for everything. If you have a fire in your house, that new ambulance coming from farther away isn’t what you’re hoping for.

Deciding to close the fire station was done at the February 2, 2021 board meeting. But it wasn’t on the agenda. And the previous time they discussed changing the fire department was at the September 15, 2020 meeting, and at that meeting closing the station was not an option they told the village manager to look into. This is obviously a backroom deal, with no transparency or public notification. Obviously closing a fire station is something the public would want to know about. They deliberately kept it under wraps and hoped no one would notice. The Glenview Firefighters think the public should know.

The village says that about 65% of our calls are medical. They’re right. And it’s been like that for decades. So why are we closing a station now? And why are we getting rid of our versatile, multi-hazard, do-everything vehicle?

In 1996, the GFD last added staff. We ran 5600 calls that year. In 2019 we ran nearly 8900 calls! That’s a huge increase, and we’ve actually cut staff. They want efficiency, they got it. Why are we cutting even more as we get even busier?

The village wants to rely more on neighboring communities. If your neighbor got rid of his snow blower, how would you feel if he just expected to borrow yours? We rely on our neighbors for large-scale incidents and as a last resort. We shouldn’t expect them to cover for us when we cut our own resources.

One of our biggest fears is the service people will get when Station 6 is busy. Emergencies will wait for much, much longer for ambulances and fire trucks from stations near Flick Park or way up north on Patriot. We had that happen over and over during their trial runs of this dangerous plan in 2020. We had some bad outcomes on those calls. Longer wait times are just not acceptable.

ACTION REQUEST: Call and email the village board and village manager and fire chief. Talk to your neighbors. Share your concerns on social media groups. Visit the Save Station 13 page to request a yard sign and find the contact information for the Village of Glenview Trustees and Village Manager.

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