Mount Vernon to close fire house due to lack of money

By Julia Bruck - bioemail

MOUNT VERNON, IL (KFVS) - A lack of money in Mount Vernon forces city leaders to close one of its four firehouses.

From her front window, Jamie Rowley can see fire station two in Mount Vernon.  It is a short distant, Rowley once had to run for help.

"I have a one year old when that happened and she was in there and it was easier for me instead of searching for phones in smoke, I could just run down there," Rowley said.

Rowley ran to Fire Station Two.  However, in just more than two weeks the City of Mount Vernon plans to shut down the firehouse.  The budget plan also calls for not replacing two fire fighters expected to retire next year.

"We believe that those costs will save us nearly $200,000 in terms of not replacing those positions and of course the elimination of those operations costs of that department," City Manager Ron Neibert said.

Neibert said the savings would help balance the city's budget and avoid any layoffs.

"Fire chief feels it will not have a negative impact in operations be able to maintain certain in terms of meeting guidelines in response times," Neibert said.

However, Doug Boczeck with the Mount Vernon Professional Fire Fighters says how the city plans to meet those guidelines is still in question.

"Any time that you're closing a station and reducing staff, I think anybody who looks at this situation is going to have the same question, exactly how is this not going to affect people," Boczeck said.

Boczeck said this station is the second busiest fire station in the city. It is a safety resource Rowley said she would like to see stay open for all the citizens of Mount Vernon.

"I think the more people the better, who knows what, will happen.  There could be multiples and multiples of things that happen and we'd need all of them (the fire fighters)," Rowley said.

A final budget vote by the Mount Vernon City Council is set for March 28.

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