Public Safety committee reviews budget requests for city’s first responders

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – Budget overviews for EMS, the fire department, the police department, consolidated dispatch and the board of fire and police commissioners were presented to the Public Safety committee Monday.

Public Safety Director Eric Van Hook spoke to the department’s desire to add a third ambulance. The city currently has two ambulances and has seen sizable increases in call volume, especially with the addition of the two hospitals. The hospitals, as well as the VA clinic in Shiloh, use O’Fallon ambulances for transfers. Transfers to St. Louis can often take an ambulance out of service for the city for three to four hours. The budget includes three full-time employees and twelve part-time employees. 

The fire department budget saw salary and benefit increases, as the department added a full-time deputy chief. It also included the final payment for the new engine to be completed and delivered in April 2020, and a capital reserve item preparing for the next $1 million engine replacement. Fire Chief Brad White discussed the part-time crew staffing, and the increase to salaries for that. A four-person crew is in place from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and a three-person crew is in place from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. White also mentioned that he currently has the night shift covered completely by volunteers for the remainder of March and hopes to continue that throughout the year as often as possible.

Increases to the police department budget came primarily from the need for more over-time to meet the increase in unfunded mandated trainings from the state. The department will be replacing three vehicles, part of a standard replacement rotation. There were also increases to operating supplies like ammunition and community outreach. The department has recently added pop-up barbeques to their list of various community outreach events.

The addition of a thirteenth full-time dispatcher was included in the consolidated dispatch budget which will assist in the reduction of over-time and mandated shifts. The costs associated with the consolidated dispatch are shared with Fairview Heights. The board of fire and police commissioners’ budget includes items for training for new commissioners, so it is cyclical based on the rotations for the commissioners.