Bradley

Village of Bradley officials plan to renovate the former Bradley-Bourbonnais Chamber of Commerce site to house the village’s second fire station.

BRADLEY — On-again, off-again plans to construct a second fire station in Bradley are very much on and are about to move forward as construction could begin by late spring.

Village officials believe this second station — located on the northeast side of the village at the former Bradley-Bourbonnais Chamber of Commerce site — could be operation as early as this fall.

The cost of this development is anticipated to be in the $800,000 range, noted Fire Chief Don Kaderabek. The village board is expected to hire a project manager — someone to oversee the project from beginning to end — likely within the next two to three weeks.

“Minutes matter for us and our citizens,” Kaderabek noted regarding the department’s ability to reach north and northeast locations within the village when beginning at the West Broadway Street fire station. “We struggle getting fast response times.”

A study completed in early 2020 showed calls for service times in this area of the village where residential and commercial development has dramatically grown during the past 20 years, have been in the 8- to 9-minute range.

Fire service standards recommend response times should be closer to 4 or 5 minutes.

STUDY SHOWED NEED

In a PowerPoint presentation made to the Bradley Village Board in February 2020, David Slivinski said responding to calls in the proper time frame is the issue. Slivinski, who is program director for assessment and consulting for the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association, noted then the village department simply cannot get that done with the configuration of the current force.

He noted 39 percent of fire calls since January 2016 had been responded to by the department within 4 minutes, the standard for fire service. In that same period, only 40 percent of ambulance calls had been met within that 4-minute window.

He noted many other calls took 8, 9 or even 10 minutes to respond. In many instances, emergency calls were handled by neighboring departments, which means the village loses response fees.

The village board has discussed this issue for years. A similar study to the one completed by Slivinski said much the same, but due to issues — mainly funding — department expansion was not acted upon.

While plans are not finalized, the village will be looking to construct a new 3,500-square-foot garage to house a fire engine and ambulance at the site of the former 4,200-square-foot B-B Chamber property, 1690 Newtowne Drive, which the village owns. The village will also invest in redeveloping the former chamber building to accommodate fire service. The building will need living and training space. The village is also looking to establish a community room.

The Newtowne Drive property is located just south of Larry Power Road and east of Northfield Square mall.

“This will give us a presence out there and obviously much quicker response times,” said Mayor Pro Tem Mike Watson. “This is a step in the direction to deal with that issue.”

Watson said this project has been discussed for years. He knows it dates back to at least the time when Steve Wilder was fire chief. Wilder served as chief from 2000 to 2008.

“I’m not someone who just talks the talk. We also walk the walk,” Watson said. “It’s absolutely critical that our response times improve. Eight to 9 minutes is simply too long.”

The addition of a new station will obviously cause an increase in expenses to have it manned. Chief Kaderabek hopes to have three new firefighters/paramedics hired before the end of summer so at least two people can be at the station at all times.

The department currently has six full-time firefighters.

“Where the station is now was a great, central location when it was built. But the village is only going to continue to grow to the north and to the east. We have to be able to better serve that area,” Kaderabek said.

Lee Provost, an award-winning reporter, has been writing local news stories for The Daily Journal since 1988. He is a lifelong resident of the region. Provost can be reached at lprovost@daily-journal.com.