South community protests the closure of local fire station with “Save Fire Station 13”

Ella Vick, Staff Writer

The Glenview Board of Trustees reconvened for an emergency meeting on Monday, March 8, to revisit their decision regarding Fire Station 13. This meeting occurred in response to the community rally two days prior, planned by sophomore Drew Duffy. According to the Glenview Firefighters Association, after vast public outcry, the Village resolved to preserve Fire Station 13. 

“The Glenview Board of Trustees heard [the community] speaking to [its members.] They recognized that they should have gone to [the community] before they made a big change. They also recognized that closing Fire Station 13 was a dangerous idea,” the Glenview Firefighters Association stated. “Fire Station 13 will not close.”

The recent proposal for the closing of Fire Station 13 had become a contested issue. Many Glenview residents, including sophomore Yemisi Olujare, believe that the station provides valuable emergency resources. Others, such as Lynne Stiefel, Village communications manager, trust that the Village can respond effectively to emergency situations without Fire Station 13, and that decommissioning it would have saved the village money.

Many Glenview community members, including Olujare, worried that decommissioning Fire Station 13 would have been a public health risk. Those who live near Fire Station 13 were especially concerned that without the station, arrival times to their homes in the case of an emergency would have been much greater. Olujare explained that closing the station could have potentially led to a precarious situation for her loved ones.

“Station 13 is right by my house,” Olujare said. “The other five stations are on the other side of the town. If something were to happen to me or my family members, Station 13 could reach me in under five minutes. Those from the other stations could take up to 20 minutes.”

Other Glenview residents, including Duffy, cited the results of a commissioned study done by Fitch and Associates to argue for the preservation of the station. Paid $60,000 by the village to analyze the response of Station 13, Fitch and Associates stated: “We don’t necessarily see a strong opportunity to eliminate a fire station that has a good footprint at providing quality level services.” Duffy reported that when residents inquired about the Village’s decision to act against the survey results, they were unsatisfied with the dismissive answers they received.

“The meeting agenda for the station closure vote was extremely obscure and there was never an opportunity for residents to ask questions in a public format,” Duffy said. 

In response to community disapproval, Stiefel provided an explanation of the Village’s reasoning, stating that the original decision to reallocate resources came as a result of in-depth data over a period of two years, as well as current data. Stiefel believed that a reorganized plan would have enabled the fire department to better serve its residents. She explained that a great majority of community emergencies are medical, not fire-related, and the proposed plan would have better addressed this need for medical care. 

“Key aspects of the plan include[d] increasing the number of ambulances in service 24-hours-a-day from two to four and placing personnel and equipment where they are most needed,” Stiefel said. “These changes will make emergency responses more efficient, provide the residents of Glenview with better service and maximize resources.”

Many Glenview residents, such as Duffy and Olujare, were unsatisfied with this conclusion. They felt that public safety was at risk, and those who had spoken up were not listened to. This led residents like Olujare to attend the rally with the purpose of making their voices heard.

“If the village wants to make the department more medically focused, then let’s talk about [purchasing more medical equipment and employing more medical personnel.] The problem is that no one has explained why taking away a fire station will help with that at all,” Duffy said. “The decision was made without the public being properly informed.”

Duffy, Olujare and the other Glenview community members who attended the rally arose victorious, Fire Station 13 will remain open.