© 2023 WGLT
A public service of Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Major tech upgrade underway at WGLT. Thanks for your patience!

Bloomington council OKs long-term plan to purchase advanced equipment for BFD

A man with white hair, and wearing a white Bloomington Fire Department uniform shirt, with an American flag emblem on the sleeve, speaks to reporters holding notebooks and recorders. Next to him, holding a binder, and listening, is a bald man, wearing the same uniform. Behind him you can see the red "Exit" sign in the auditorium of the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts.
Michele Steinbacher
Bloomington Deputy Fire Chief Cory Matheny, left, speaks to reporters, as Chief Eric West listens, following the Bloomington City Council meeting on Monday, Sept. 25, 2023, at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts auditorium.

Bloomington fire officials say first responders and the public they serve will benefit from an emergency equipment upgrades plan, approved at Monday’s Bloomington City Council meeting.

The council unanimously approved the 10-year, $4.3 million agreement with equipment vendor Stryker Medical; there was no discussion. Stryker is BFD's longtime vendor.

Until now, the department has worked on a replacement-only cycle with its emergency equipment.

“We’ve seen that price increase go up at least 7 to 10% over the last five years,” said Bloomington Deputy Fire Chief Cory Matheny.

That’s meant challenges as the department has tried to replace equipment and standardize tools across its fleet, he said, adding, in today’s dollars, the cost would be more than $1.5 million just for this year's needed upgrades.

“What this allows us to do is to take that investment and spread it across the next 10 years,” said Matheny.

Under the plan, Stryker will provide the latest equipment to the department, across the board.

The tools benefit patients. One example is adding cardiac equipment in all vehicles to allow an emergency responder to instantly send important medical data to a nearby hospital's cath lab, he said. That allows a hospital to be better prepared for the patient arriving by ambulance.

For its staff, the Bloomington Fire Department will be able to provide the latest technology that improves safety and long-term health — such as equipment that lessens the risk of back injuries, said Matheny.

"It's a morale booster, and a recruiting booster," he said.

The city will pay Stryker about $415,000 per year, starting in fiscal 2025.

White Place issue continues

A renovated White Place residence divided into nine units continues to raise zoning issue concerns. On Monday, White Place resident Joe Strano addressed the council during public comments.

At the council's Aug. 28 meeting, several White Place residents shared concerns about the propertypreparing to open with high occupancy. Bloomington Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe discussed the issue with WGLT soon after, noting he'd like it to become part of a larger zoning discussion.

Strano said Monday he disagrees with the city administration’s view that the property should be allowed to lease nine units.

“One White Place has been unoccupied… approaching two years now,” he said, contending under current zoning rules, the site shouldn't have more than four units.

“The code should mean what it says,” said Strano.

In other business, the council:

  • Amended, by $125,000, this year’s street, alley, and sidewalk maintenance agreement with George Gildner Inc. Much of that will go toward safety work, such as shoulder work and damaged guard rails.
  • OK’d a $12,600 change order for the Miller Park Zoo’s South America exhibit. The project is funded by the zoo’s foundation.
  • Approved a special-use permit to allow chicken keeping at a home in the 1200 block of Dogwood Lane. 
  • Heard seasonal bulk waste pickups will be Oct. 2-13. Residents are encouraged to separate leaves and brush from the bulk, as all three need to be processed differently.
We depend on your support to keep telling stories like this one. You – together with donors across the NPR Network – create a more informed public. Fact by fact, story by story. Please take a moment to donate now and fund the local news our community needs. Your support truly makes a difference.

Michele Steinbacher is a WGLT correspondent. She joined the staff in 2020.
Related Content