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Sterling, Rock Falls approve fire consolidation

Change effective Sept. 28

ROCK FALLS – Sterling and Rock Falls approved the long-discussed consolidation of their fire departments in a joint meeting of the city councils Monday night.

The councils met at Rock Falls City Hall, where members unanimously voted to approve an intergovernmental agreement creating the Twin City Joint Fire Command, which combines the administrative functions of the two fire departments.

The agreement had been in the works dating back to 2010, Rock Falls City Administrator Robin Blackert said.

The agreement will be effective Sept. 28, the day after current Rock Falls Fire Chief J.W. Larson retires after 38 years in the department.

Gary Cook will take over as fire chief, and a deputy chief will represent each city. Cook is currently serving as the Rock Falls deputy chief and the Sterling fire chief.

Capt. Bill Milby will represent Rock Falls as a deputy chief, and Capt. Mike Dettman will represent Sterling.

The agreement would save Rock Falls approximately $45,000 per year, Blackert told Sauk Valley Media Sept. 4, and additional savings could come from vtheehicles and equipment.

The cities will split the cost of the fire chief, which includes the $90,000 salary, insurance, pension and other costs, with Sterling covering 61 percent and Rock Falls 39 percent, which are based on the populations.

The joint meeting Monday night was the first such meeting in 15 years, when the cities approved the automatic aid agreement, Cook said.

Sterling Ward 2 Alderman Barry Cox and Rock Falls Ward 3 Alderman Dave Hand were absent.

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