Future of Peoria Heights’ fire department still uncertain

Local News

PEORIA HEIGHTS, Ill. (WMBD) — The future of a local village’s fire department is still up in the air as discussions continue.

The Peoria Heights Village board held a special meeting Saturday morning going over different proposals to determine how to continue offering fire protection services.

Currently, the village’s fire protection consists of an all-volunteer team who respond to fires from their private residences.

Mike Phelan, Peoria Heights mayor, said the board was originally considering three options:

Option 1: A duty crew would be employed by the city for day-side protection with volunteers working holidays and weekends.

“I think a duty crew is one of the preferred options,” Phelan said on Tuesday.

Option 2: Contracting with the City of Peoria for fire protection service.

Mayor Phelan said Peoria Heights and Peoria already have a working relationship pertaining to 911 dispatching and public works.

“This isn’t the first time the Heights has approached the city of Peoria,” Phelan said.

Option 3: Creating the village’s own employed fire district with the tax base to support it.

Phelan says that third option is the most difficult and complicated, but isn’t being ruled out just yet.

“We’re not ruling that out, but I’d say that’s third on the list of priorities,” Phelan said.

The meeting focused more on the first two options and also discussed the option of hiring either a full-time or part-time fire chief with the addition of a day crew or continuing with volunteers.

People who attended the meeting said they left feeling split on the decisions after hearing all of the proposals. Shirley Fowler, who’s lived in Peoria Heights for over fifty years, said she wants to keep the fire department local.

“I’m for the fire department staying here local, I prefer hiring local,” Fowler said. “We’ve had them here all these years and they’re always right there when you need them.”

Current fire chief Greg Walters is retiring in November and board members said they hope to come to a decision before Walters leaves.

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