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Glen Ellyn Volunteer Fire Company hopes financial support will solve funding conundrum

Published: Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013 12:25 p.m. CDT

GLEN ELLYN – With trucks to replace and volunteers to train, the Glen Ellyn Volunteer Fire Company is seeking help from the village of Glen Ellyn to sustain the company’s services while meeting its equipment needs.

“We don’t want to wait until we’re in a crisis and the trucks are falling apart,” Fire Company Chief Jim Bodony said.

The company currently has two 20-year-old trucks that are due to be replaced for about $500,000 each, Bodony said. One of the company’s large ladder trucks will need to be switched out in two or three years as well, which will cost about $1.2 million.

The revenue the Fire Company receives from sources such as the village, donations and grants doesn’t cover its operating budget, and capital equipment needs suffer the most as a result.

Last year, the Fire Company brought in about $456,000 in revenue, but its projected operating budget totaled about $684,000, including funds to be set aside for future equipment purchases, Bodony said.

Although the company would like to save funds each year to purchase trucks, it has been unable to do so for several years, he said.

Other costs include annual physicals, intensive training and protective equipment for firefighters, Bodony said.

The village has asked the Fire Company to provide a 10-year plan of their projected costs. The company’s Board of Directors is expected to meet Oct. 11 and discuss the plan, which will then be presented to the Village Board.

Options the village could consider to assist the company include reallocating other funds in the budget and exploring some type of fee structure, village trustee Pete Ladesic said.

A fulltime fire department made up of paid staff would cost millions of dollars, much of which would come from taxes, making it all the more necessary to sustain the volunteer company, Ladesic said.

“There’s no question: We must maintain the viability of the Fire Company,” he said.

Currently, fire chief is the only salaried position within the company, Bodony said. Company members who staff the fire stations during the work week receive a small stipend for a 12-hour day. Volunteers receive $1 each year for their service.

“They’re doing it with virtually no compensation, and all they ask is for support for the equipment they need,” Bodony said.

The Volunteer Fire Company is currently running its annual fund drive.

Last year, the drive collected about $303,000, Bodony said, although less than 25 percent of Glen Ellyn residents typically contribute.

Moving forward, Bodony wants to ensure the Fire Company has a steady revenue stream to cover its costs.

“I want to keep it going,” he said.

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