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St. Albans Green fire focus of Sycamore Council meeting

'An unprecedented event' for the city, fire chief says

SYCAMORE – The fire at the St. Albans Green apartment complex over the previous weekend was the primary topic of discussion during the Monday's meeting of the Sycamore City Council, and the tone was one of pride.

“The caring our community has for one another is indescribable,” Mayor Curt Lang said.

City Manager Brian Gregory echoed this sentiment, saying “It makes you very proud to be a member of this city. Gregory thanked all the staff, leaders, and employees who “stepped up.”

Fire Chief Pete Polarek gave an extended report of the fire.

“For Sycamore, this was an unprecedented event,” he began.

Specific challenges were noted, including the limited initial response, absence of a nearby water supply, poor parking access, and an attic space which caused a “smoke explosion, which turned an internal firefight into an external firefight.”

Firefighters continued responding to hotspots at the site as late as Thursday, Polarek said.

Polarek thanked the department’s mutual aid partners, who came from as far as Algonquin to assist in effort, as well as the police officers who cleared the building and ensured all residents were accounted for.

Polarek became emotional describing the support of the citizenry, who provided support to firefighters both verbally and physically, with “so many bottles of water, of Gatorade.”

Following Polarek's report, the council moved quickly through its business. Resolution 801 reaffirmed the availability of retirement funds for eligible elected officials; it passed unanimously.

A number of considerations were sustained, including one to accept the bid from Behm Pavement Maintenance to fill cracks in a number of streets. Filling cracks prevents water from accumulating and freezing there in the winter, expanding and causing greater damage to the street.

“We get a good bang for our buck with crack filling," Lang said. "Another great example of being frugal.”

The second consideration concerned the renewal of insurance plans for city employees. Maggie Peck,human and administrative resources director, presented the insurance committee’s plan, the only major change to which was the inclusion of an incentive to city employees to switch from PPO to HMO or H.S.A. insurance plans.

Such a switch, Peck says, could save the city over $100,000, but the important thing is to better educate employees about their options.

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