Calumet Park outsources fire department in ‘historic’ move. Kurtz Ambulance to Provide Fire Protection

Article retrieved from: Chicago Tribune

In an “historic” move that could trigger a transformation in how small suburban municipalities deliver emergency services, Calumet Park has outsourced its fire department to a private contractor in an effort to cut costs, village attorney Burt Odelson said.

The board voted unanimously Nov. 8 to approve a separation agreement with its firefighters union and to enter into a five-year contract with Kurtz Ambulance Service to provide fire suppression and ambulance services to the village, he said.

“This will be the wave of the future,” said Odelson, who previously spearheaded a push to privatize fire services in North Riverside that was overturned by the Illinois Labor Relations Board.

He said he wasn’t aware of another municipality in Cook County that had contracted with a private company to provide fire suppression services, but believed others would soon follow Calumet Park’s lead.

Kurtz, which will assume control of Calumet Park’s fire department on Dec. 1, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

As part of the arrangement, the company will supply 12 full-time firefighter/paramedics to staff Calumet Park’s department in four-person shifts, replacing the village’s 30-plus part-time firefighters, officials said. Four of the 12 will be current village firefighters who have signed on to work full-time for Kurtz, Odelson said.

The private force, he said, would provide Calumet Park with “the exact level of service” as the village has currently.

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