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Meeting halfway in Dalzell

DALZELL – Communication is said to be the key to every situation. With that, a special meeting was held in Dalzell on Wednesday to help two village departments grasp that proverbial key in hopes of solving friction between community members, misunderstandings of village ordinances and “bashing” village officials on public forum websites.

The Dalzell Village Board’s Water and Sewer Committee met with the Dalzell Fire Protection District to ask for better communication before the fire department hosts future training sessions. With better communication, the village could prepare beforehand by filling the village’s water wells to prevent the draining of water supply. Also, the village board could better communicate with concerned residents who are unaware of the fire department’s activities.

The past miscommunication of training sessions have led to limited water supply in the village, neighborhoods filled with smoke on a no burning day and the school’s parking lot facing potential damage after a resurfacing job.

Village board trustee Gary Orlandi expressed frustrations caused when the fire department doesn’t notify the village board of a training session.

“If I get 15 calls at 11 p.m. at night because people have lost their laundry to dirty water and people having to empty their swimming pools to dirty water, I’ve got no way to explain to them why it happened,” he said. “If you want to run heavy amounts of water, you should contact the sewer and water department to make sure we’re ready to go.”

Orlandi reassured the board has no problem with the fire department using water for training.

“We want you to be safe; we want you to get your training; we do appreciate what goes on here; but we need communication,” he said. “We’re elected by the people, and the people come to us for the answers. So when you guys are doing something we don’t know about and we have to chase the smoke to find you to figure out what’s going on, the people are crazy.”

Village President Gloria Orlandi said when the fire department drains the village’s water supply, it becomes a great concern there won’t be enough water to fight a real fire, if it was to ever happen during a training session.

“We understand you have to practice, but there’s also one more important thing you have to do, and that is you have to communicate with us. We will meet you halfway, but you better come the other half,” she said.

Village board member Randy Bernabei explained the village’s water reservoir and tower together only hold about 160,000 gallons at a time, and the village uses 55,000 gallons a day for regular usage.

“We don’t have the water capabilities of other towns,” he said. “Simple as that.”

Village board member Shawn Thompson expressed disappointment in seeing the board being “bashed” on Facebook.

“You have no clue the phone calls we get and the butt chewings we are receiving. You may think it’s a joke, but when they’re calling … it gets a little ridiculous. I know you have got to train, but we’re asking you to look at the other side of the card,” he said. “I’m assuming no one on the fire department is receiving these phone calls at 11 p.m. or 12 a.m. wondering why they just had to throw away a washer full of clothes because their washer is full of mud or who is going to pay for my washing machine if it won’t work. or why am I going to have to pay so many X number of dollars to refill my swimming pool because it looks like the Vermilion River. Maybe that’s the side of it you guys just don’t see.”

Dalzell Fire Chief Dick Croissant explained the fire department doesn’t use as much water as what others may have thought. He said the village’s water pumps are also always recharging, which helps the water source recover faster after a drill. He admitted, however, the fire department didn’t notify the local school before it used its parking, but assumed it would be OK, since the fire department trained there in the past with no problem.

Christina Croissant, who is in charge of the fire department’s public relations, said training dates have been posted beforehand and messages have been sent out in residents’ water bills. Gloria Orlandi asked that she notify the Water Committee members personally, because not every resident reads the water bill messages.

Assistant Fire Chief Rich Croissant took the blame for scheduling a burning training session on a day when burning isn’t allowed in the village and admitted he had forgotten about the no burning ordinance.

He also clarified with the department being a member of a Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS), it can call other local fire departments during an emergency who would bring in several gallons of needed water to help fight a fire. Croissant also provided board members with a schedule of meeting and training dates, which will be posted on the outside of the fire department building for the public.

The Water and Sewer Committee was happy to hear from the fire department and was enthused with the respectful communication between departments.

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