JOLIET – The proposed acquisition of a quint truck faced stiff opposition from firefighters, while Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said the city needs to do something about “obscene” amounts of overtime spent in the department.
Firefighters at a City Council workshop meeting Monday said putting a quint, a dual-purpose truck, in downtown Station 1 would threaten public safety in the older section of the city.
The truck also would allow the department to cut back on staff and save on overtime spending.
“This isn’t about manning. This isn’t about overtime. This is about public safety,” firefighter Scott Shear told the council. “Don’t take away our tools for doing the job.”
The quint would replace one engine truck and one ladder truck at Station 1. Each truck requires a three-firefighter crew, so using a quint would cut back the number of firefighters at Station 1 by three.
Firefighter said it would also reduce the number of firefighters that first arrive at the scene of a fire.
O’Dekirk pointed to $300,000 spent on fire department overtime in December.
“It’s $10,000 a day, which is obscene,” O’Dekirk said. “That’s not our money. It’s taxpayer money. It can’t be justified.”
The truck would cost $842,000.
Fire Chief Joe Formhals said he did not consider the fire apparatus vehicle a threat to public safety but may allow him to get some control of department overtime.
“The purpose of the quint is to free up those three individuals so we would have them somewhere else,” Formhals said.