Dixon mayor reignites talks about city, rural fire departments’ shared future

Hughes to attend Sept. 12 trustees’ meeting to open discussions aimed at improving safety, cost efficiency

A Dixon Rural Fire Protection District fire truck took part in the Petunia Days Parade in July 2023.

DIXON – Citing needs that include increasing citizen and firefighter safety and providing cost savings for residents, Dixon’s mayor says now is the time to discuss how Dixon’s city fire department and the Dixon rural fire protection district can create more effective, cooperative and coordinated services.

Dixon Mayor Glen Hughes told the Dixon City Council this week he had sent a letter to the Dixon Community Fire Protection District of Lee and Ogle Counties asking to revisit recommendations for probable improvement in several areas and the possibility of consolidating the two departments. The goal is to determine how the departments could improve service to residents, increase public and firefighter safety and become more fiscally responsible to the communities they serve, he wrote.

He said that because Dixon Rural Fire Chief Sid Aurand’s retirement is planned for the end of year, he decided it was appropriate to thoroughly read two earlier studies carried out by independent experts – the McGarth Study of 2008 and the WRB assessment report from 2017.

“The McGarth Study recommended several areas of probable improvement, including possible consolidation,” Hughes wrote in his letter to Dixon Rural’s board of trustees. “Although I am not sure whether or not consolidation is the best course of action, it does appear to be the appropriate time to continue the discussion.”

He told the City Council on Tuesday night that he also had studied the 2011 intergovernmental agreement that was based in part on the McGarth Study. That agreement encouraged representatives of the departments, the city and the fire district to meet annually, and more often as desirable, to review, discuss and implement, as appropriate, joint training activities; an annual review of equipment purchases; operational cooperation to provide the fastest response with appropriate staffing and equipment; mutual aid agreements; standard operating procedures; and other matters of mutual interest.

Hughes said in his letter that while significant progress has been made, “there appears to be more improvements to be made in operational and functional coordination, for better efficiencies and safety.”

Hughes said he has spoken with City Council members, Lee County Board Chairman Bob Olson and Dixon City Manager Danny Langloss and that all appear to concur that now would be a good time to further review what can be done on behalf of citizens.

Hughes in his letter wrote that he will attend the fire district’s board meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 12, to determine the best way to open discussions, with the hope to strengthen the relationship between local boards and fire departments and to benefit city and rural residents.

Charlene Bielema

Charlene Bielema

Charlene Bielema is the editor of Sauk Valley Media.