SAVOY, Ill. (WCIA) — One Central Illinois fire department is considering the implementation of fees for one of its services.
The Village of Savoy is set to vote on a new ordinance that would specifically affect non-emergency calls at assisted living facilities within the village. The non-emergency service would primarily be lift assistance. Village President John Brown said that the Savoy Fire Department has already responded to over 100 of these non-emergency calls this year — a number they hope to limit in 2024.
Eddie Bain, the department’s Public Information Officer, explained that several reasons prompted this decision, including being short-staffed on equipment.
“We’d like to keep that equipment 100% available for emergency responses,” Bain said. “We just don’t run the fires anymore. There’s all kinds of emergency services that we provide; many of those services require specialized equipment, specialized staff, and training and maintenance, and ongoing training. And those issues require support.”
To reduce pressure on its firefighters, the village is advocating for these fees. If passed, this ordinance would align Savoy with other fire departments in the area, like Champaign and Rantoul, which charge $300 to $400 for lift assist calls.
However, Savoy relies on a paid call system for its firefighters, many of whom have other full-time careers, according to Brown.
“Firefighters have to come from home, many times in the middle of the night, to respond. And that just increases the burnout and the likelihood of burnout,” Brown said. “So by reducing the number of calls, we’ll reduce the amount of stress on the firefighters. And if not, if we continue to get called, it will help to reimburse the village’s expenses for responding to these.”
The ordinance will be officially voted on by the Village Board Wednesday night.