Harrisburg to end rural fire protection

(Source: Saline County SO)
(Source: Saline County SO)

HARRISBURG, IL (KFVS) - The New Year is going to ring in some changes for people living in rural areas of Saline County.

The Harrisburg city council has decided to no longer provide fire protection to people outside the city limits starting in July 2013.

"It's a question of finances. It's also a question of safety," said Harrisburg Mayor Eric Gregg. "Our major concern if for the citizens of Harrisburg who pay for the fire service. We're very concerned about the county, I want to make sure everyone is clear on that. And we hope that we can come to a resolution with the county on how to move forward. And make sure everyone is protected."

In years past, the city's fire department has handled rural fires. But now, the cost of doing so is more than the department can bear.

But, some people who live out in the county, and have relied of the Harrisburg Fire Department in the past, wonder what will happen to them in the future.

"That kind of broadsides me. I don't understand where we're supposed to get fire protection," said Greg Lewis. "Our insurance rates are going to go up. And who will we call if we have a fire?"

Harrisburg's Mayor Eric Gregg tells Heartland News that he hopes this will open discussion between the city and county leaders to form a rural fire protection district.

The fire department currently charges landowners outside the city limits $2,000 per fire call.

And Mayor Gregg points out that Saline County, is one of only a handful of counties in the State of Illinois that currently don't have an active fire protection district.

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