Peoria Fire Department to aid volunteer departments

By Beau Ebenezer

January 2, 2013 Updated Jan 3, 2013 at 6:54 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- The West Peoria Fire District might be getting some help from Peoria.

City officials began talks Wednesday morning following the death of an West Peoria woman.

Betty Kemp, 95, died from smoke inhalation in a house fire Monday night.

Volunteer firefighters from West Peoria responded to a call at 2016 West Heading Avenue. When they arrived, the house was already engulfed in flames.

"I happened to be out to dinner with one of the captains that night when the alarm came in. We were driving probably two minutes from the fire scene. I dropped him off, went to the fire scene. I don't think anyone could have gotten their quicker and our department was already there," said West Peoria Mayor Jim Dillon.

Now Peoria officials are beginning to discuss adding their service to volunteer fire districts.

"Peoria certainly isn't blaming anybody, we are just saying we have fire stations within a couple minutes of every area of the City of West Peoria. We are ready to help. We want to help. There really isn't a reason why we wouldn't be able to get to those fires very quickly if we were called to do so," said Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis.

Currently, the West Peoria Fire department consists of more than 40 highly trained volunteers, who many times respond to calls from their home.

Peoria Fire Department officials says they are not looking to replace anything, but just want to be as efficient as possible when responding to calls.

"That means we get the quickest response possible. Once the other responders get their, the first responders leave and turn the scene over," said Peoria Fire Chief Kent Tomblin.

As of now all Fire departments in the county work under a Mutual Aid Box Alarm System or MABAS.

This allows for fire districts to request the help of other departments if needed.

More meetings are scheduled to take place soon.

If an agreement is made by the cities, Peoria could soon be responding to all calls in West Peoria along with their current district.

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