Peotone and Manhattan Fire Protection District leaders pushing to fully consolidate

Leaders of the Peotone and Manhattan Fire Protection Districts announced Monday that they believe consolidating the two districts into one will save residents money and improve service.

The two districts have already consolidated administrative offices, resulting in a "savings and cost recovery" of $600,000 in the first year.

In a press release, the districts said that without consolidation, residents will see service decline and would likely to have to pay more. The statement noted that employees in many industries are pushing for better pay and benefits, and firefighters and EMTs are no exception. Fire Protection District officials said that fully-trained employees being offered only part-time work are looking for better opportunities elsewhere. Consolidation would allow both communities to hire more full-time staff.

The districts also cited the need to spend money updating old facilities. New equipment is also needed.

Formal consolidation would require Peotone voters to decide the issue via a referendum.