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Local News

Joliet Fire Department shelves plan for quints

Unions opposed conversion

The Joliet Fire Department Administrative Offices on Wednesday downtown in Joliet.
The Joliet Fire Department Administrative Offices on Wednesday downtown in Joliet.

Joliet will not convert a damaged tower truck into a quint, a move that was opposed by firefighter unions when it was proposed in February to control overtime costs.

The Joliet City Council this week approved a new proposal to spend $85,000 to repair the damaged basket and keep it as a tower truck.

City Manager David Hales told the council’s Public Safety Committee on Tuesday that the quint plan was put on hold.

“As of the present time, we’re setting that aside and just going forward with these repairs,” Hales said. “Long term remains to be seen.”

Dual-purpose quint trucks combine the functions of a fire engine and ladder truck, leading to fewer firefighters operating the quint instead of the two vehicles.

Firefighters, who packed a February council meeting when the quint plan was on the agenda, argued that the use of quints also reduces tools available to fight fires and are less effective.

The conversion of the tower truck to a quint would have cost $183,000.

Hales at that time recommended that the plan be put on hold so city administration could discuss the plan with firefighters.

Fire Chief Joseph Formhals had also proposed buying a demo-model quint truck for $842,000 to replace the department’s one aging quint.

Formhals said the discussion with unions could continue until the next union contract talks. The contract runs through 2019.

Formhals had sought to reduce staffing requirements to cut back on overtime paid to compensate for staffing shortages.

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk noted the city paid $300,000 in fire department overtime in December, calling the amount “obscene.”

The 17-year-old tower truck was damaged during a fire call on Christmas day. Formhals said it will eventually need to be replaced.

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