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Information on Highwood's Contract with Highland Park for Fire/EMS Services
Transition to Highland Park Provided Services

With the successful passage of the referendum regarding the closure of the Fire Department in our rear view mirror, the City has transitioned services to Highland Park. Beginning on June 14, 2016, all Fire and Emergency Medical Services in Highwood are provided by the City of Highland Park’s Fire Department.

Residents, businesses, and visitors in need of service will continue to dial 911 and the appropriate response will be dispatched through the Highland Park Fire Department. Non-emergency calls can be directed to the department at 847-433-3110.

The City Council is now turning their attention to the future of the fire station property itself.  The City of Highwood is issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP), which is a public solicitation asking for interested parties to propose their idea and offer for the property.  Once the City has all these offers in hand, it can review the offers and select the best option.  The request for proposals can be viewed on our website.  Submissions are due by September 1, 2016.


Fire Department Referendum Passage on March 15th
The proposed Highwood & Highland Park fire and ambulance service partnership referendum that was included on the ballot, March 15th, passed. Voters confirmed the agreement that was unanimously approved by the City Councils of both Highwood and Highland Park to provide shared services to residents.

“This decision was not taken lightly by the City’s staff, elected officials or the Highwood voters,” said Scott Coren, Highwood’s City Manager. “Its passage shows residents’ confidence in Highland Park’s internationally accredited fire department. Their outstanding service levels, combined with the significant positive financial impact for both communities made this a prudent decision.”

In June 2014, the State of Illinois passed a law that requires municipalities to go to referendum, with specified language, to consolidate or provide shared fire and emergency medical services. The language is clearly slanted to push residents to vote against it. Highwood is the first municipality in Illinois to successfully pass this referendum question despite facing these obstacles.

“This partnership will not only provide lasting financial benefits while maintaining high service levels but also become a model for municipalities seeking to share services with their neighbors,” Mayor Charles Percaro said. The Highland Park shared services are scheduled to begin on July 1, 2016.

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to extend Highland Park’s exceptional fire, EMS and fire inspection services to the City of Highwood. We remain committed to providing high quality public safety services to both communities at all times and we will continue to keep public safety as one of our core priorities,” stated Ghida S. Neukirch Highland Park City Manager.

Thank you to everyone who provided their feedback on the matter.

March 15th Fire Department Referendum to Decide Highwood Fire Department Next Steps

On the March 15, 2016 Primary Election Ballot is a referendum to allow the City to have fire and ambulance services provided by the City of Highland Park’s internationally accredited Fire Department. 

The language of the referendum will read as follows: “Shall the City of Highwood Fire Department serving the citizens with the City of Highwood cease to provide emergency services and be dissolved and discontinued?”

Unlike other referendums, the language is set by state statute and the City is not allowed to change it. As a result, the wording may be unclear and the intent of the referendum confusing for some voters. The City wants to clarify that if a majority of the votes are in favor of the referendum, meaning a yes vote, then the City will have fire and ambulance services provided by the City of Highland Park’s internationally accredited Fire Department. If the majority of voters oppose the referendum, a no vote, then the City will have to contract with a private company called PSI for fire and ambulance services.

If the referendum passes, staff projects a cost savings of more than $9.3 million over a 10-year period of time, which does not include savings from future capital purchases (i.e. fire trucks, ambulances and other specialized equipment such as tools to cut open vehicles and defibrillators) or the building and land value.  


City Council to Consider Intergovernmental Agreement with Highland Park for Contract Services on Tuesday, November 17th
On Tuesday, November 17th, the Highwood City Council approved an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with the City of Highland Park to provide shared fire and emergency medical services to Highwood. Staffs from both departments have reviewed the components of the contract and are confident in the evaluation of service levels, response times, and financial savings. Highland Park makes the most sense as a partner due to their close location and exceptional internationally accredited department.

Ultimately, Highwood residents would need to pass a referendum in March to allow for the closure of the existing station.

Public input on the agreement is welcome and a copy of all the agreements for consideration can be found on the Agendas and Minutes page of the City’s website.

We will continue to update the website with more information as it becomes available.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact City Manager Scott Coren at (847) 432-1931.

August 2015: Consideration to Contract with Highland Park
Many communities in Illinois are working together to deliver the best public services possible at the lowest possible cost.  With this in mind, Highwood is investigating an opportunity to contract with Highland Park to provide fire services to our community.  Highland Park makes the most sense as a partner due to their close location and exceptional nationally accredited department.

The staff from both departments are reviewing many components of an agreement and evaluating the impact a move like this would have on service levels, response times and financial savings and the early indications are that Highland Park could provide highly trained firefighters and paramedics, a significant financial savings and response times very comparable to our current department.

There are several significant issues that still need to be resolved that include drafting the agreement with Highland Park, getting an agreement with the International Association of Firefighters and obtaining public input on an agreement. Ultimately, Highwood residents would need to pass a referendum in March to allow for the closure of the existing station.

We will continue to update the website with more information as it becomes available.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact City Manager Scott Coren at (847) 432-1931.