The second Chicago Ridge firehouse at 10658 S. Lombard Ave. will be open for 24 hours starting Feb. 1.
Chicago Ridge firehouse on Lombard Avenue will be open for 24 hours
By Dermot Connolly
Chicago Ridge Mayor Charles Tokar announced on Tuesday that the long-awaited Lombard Avenue fire station will open for 24-hour coverage starting Feb. 1.
The station, at 10658 S. Lombard Ave., had been shuttered for years prior to being renovated, largely by fire department volunteers, and reopened for 12 hours a day, in March 2015. The main fire station is located at 10063 Virginia Ave., in an industrial park on the western edge of the village, and having the second firehouse open 24 hours a day has been the long-term goal.
The mayor informed the village board at a meeting in December that everything was on schedule to have the building open 24-hours a day by March.
“Public safety is my number one priority, and this station opening for 24-hour coverage will enable our combination fire department, which includes career and part-time firefighter/paramedics, to better serve the main population center of our community,” said the mayor in a statement released Tuesday. “In the past 2.5 years, since we embarked on an innovative ‘shared’ fire chief concept, Fire Chief George Sheets has initiated numerous creative, cost-effective and efficient methods of providing fire and paramedical services. Since April of 2015, when the station was opened, it has been staffed only 12 hours a day. The availability of having this station open 24 hours per day will result in response times being reduced by two minutes, which in an emergency, can be a window of time wide enough to save lives,” he continued.
In December, Tokar also stressed the importance of opening the second station, noting that is located in the residential center of the village. He pointed out that when the Lombard firehouse is not open, ambulances have to come from the industrial park, where they could be blocked by trains, or neighboring communities such as Bridgeview, Oak Lawn and Alsip.
Sheets said that Tokar, along with the board of trustees, have provided the necessary funds to equip the fire department with state-of-the-art tools, training and technology. The fire chief told the board in December that keeping the station open 24/7 would not cost the village any additional money in salaries because the part-time firefighters are already on 24-hour shifts. They currently split their time between the two firehouses.
Tokar pointed to the recent acquisition of a new ambulance and quint fire apparatus, which encompasses five units in one. “By selling and consolidating outdated fire apparatus, we were able to save village taxpayers over $2 million in replacement fire apparatus costs,” he said.
“We are immensely appreciative of the continued support of all the firefighters within the department. The opening of the Lombard station for 24 hour service is a great investment in our community, a landmark and presence that our firefighters are here to answer the call quickly when there’s an emergency. I couldn’t be happier,” Fire Department Liaison Amanda Cardin said.