Residents Crying Foul over Fire District Fees

Article excerpt

Byline: Kat Zeman

If a fire breaks out in her home, Gladys Wiebe will hold off on dialing 911. That's because she lives within the Roselle Fire Protection District. If she lived elsewhere, she wouldn't think twice. But beginning Jan. 1, it could cost Wiebe hundreds - possibly thousands - of dollars for fire assistance.

"I will take a hose and try to put it out first," said Wiebe, who lives in an unincorporated area near Schaumburg. "I have an old fire extinguisher but I'm going to get a new one. ... This scares the death out of me. How are we going to get the money to pay for this? I can't believe it. This is unreal."

The Roselle village board approved a cost-sharing contract Monday with the Roselle Fire Protection District and the fees, which don't appear to have a precedent in the Chicago area, are a part of the package.

That means residents living in unincorporated areas near Roselle, Bloomingdale, Schaumburg, Itasca, Elk Grove Village and Medinah will start paying $30 per hour for every firefighter who responds to their home in case of a fire, plus $100 for each responding emergency vehicle per hour.

A number of district residents showed up at the meeting in protest.

"I think it's sloppy government," said Mark Puchalski, resident of the Roselle Fire Protection District who lives near Schaumburg. "It's a silly way to collect the budget shortfall."

The fire protection district, which has no firehouse of its own and relies on the manpower and equipment of the Roselle Fire Department, has been trying to negotiate a new contract with the village for months. …