Highland Park Dive Squad 34 and Boat 34
Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:
The last day of Deputy Chief John Kovalcik’s 28-year career at the Norwood Park Fire Department was marked by a farewell from the people of Norridge and Harwood Heights … on May 8 at his retirement party.
On May 26, Kovalcik will start a new job as an administrative analyst for the Des Plaines Fire Department — a position he took, he said, because he was ready for a new challenge. His new job in Des Plaines is strictly a desk job, he said, which requires mostly policies and procedures writing, along with budget management and project oversight.
“I’ll miss the family-like atmosphere we had here the most,” he said. “Being a fireman, you’re together for 24 hours straight sometimes, and you learn to depend and rely on each other for everything.”
The father of three daughters — Katie, 19, Ashley, 21, and Amy, 23 — has deep roots in Norwood Park Township. He went to Ridgewood High School, where he met his wife Laurie, and volunteered on the Pennoyer School Board for four years from 2007 to 2011.
“I’ve lived in this town since I was 2 years old, and I still live here — there’s a reason for that,” Kovalcik said. “The nice thing [about being a firefighter in Norwood Park] is that I was able to help people I knew personally — it was rewarding in that respect.”
Sometimes, the call of duty extended far beyond the township boundaries.
In 2001, it was the day after 9/11 when Kovalcik and a group of about 50 other firefighters volunteered to go to New York City. After working a 22-hour shift the night before, Kovalcik and his colleagues packed up their equipment and headed to Schiller Park, where other Chicago-area firefighters who had also volunteered to go had assembled.
The [trip] was canceled, however, because New York City was already inundated with thousands of other firefighters, mostly from the East Coast, who had already arrived at Ground Zero.
In 2005, Kovalcik spent two weeks in New Orleans with Norwood Park Fire Chief Kevin Stenson and now-retired fire fighter Carmen Rinaldi. The three traveled to Louisiana together to help with disaster relief following Hurricane Katrina. The three of them arrived three days after the hurricane hit, and spent several days outside camping in tents in dry patches of land with other fire fighters until a fire station opened up following flood-clean-up and the crews could move in.
Stationed in the French Quarter with about 20 other Illinois-area fire fighters for most of their time in Louisiana, Kovalcik and the crew spent most of their time fighting house fires and removing trees, he said.
Dan Johnson was sworn in as the new deputy fire chief of Norwood Park on May 11.
Today in Highland Park
Excerpts from theChicagoTribune.com:
The City of Highland Park and the Highland Park Fire Department will host a Memorial Day blood drive to support a fellow firefighter’s daughter’s continued fight against a rare cancer, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 23, at Headquarters Fire Station #33, 1130 Central Ave., Highland Park.
Kylia Abbott’s stage four neuroblastoma diagnosis came after her one-year exam in January 2014. It’s a rare cancer where malignant (cancer) cells form in nerve tissue of the adrenal gland, neck, chest, or spinal cord. Her aggressive treatment at University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital required nearly 20 blood transfusions.
The family is grateful for the support they continue to receive from Abbott’s colleagues-many of whom have made sacrifices of their own time to allow both him and his wife, Kelly, to be with their daughter during her treatments.
This is the second year that the fire department has supported Kylia Abbott, 2, the daughter of firefighter Nathan Abbott, with a Memorial Day blood drive. He’s a former U.S. Marine who was awarded the Purple Heart during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
For Abbott’s colleagues, the chance to again honor his daughter with a blood drive on the military’s most solemn day is the perfect fit.
“We’re in the career of service-including service to our own,” says Highland Park Fire Chief Dan Pease. “In our endless effort to save lives, we now focus on trying to help a brother and his family in their time of need.”
Kylia’s grandmother says that blood donations were the key to keeping Kylia in good health while she awaited her recent stem cell transfusion. “Kylia’s treatment is a credit not only to her doctors, but also her ability to get blood transfusions when her condition weakens her bone marrow. These blood transfusions were vital in allowing Kylia to be more alert, which in turn, helped her to fight this cancer.”
Appointments for the blood drive are preferred, but all walk-ins are welcome. Donors can schedule their appointment by calling LifeSource at (877) 543-3768, or visiting www.lifesource.org and making an appointment using group code 344D.
Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:
Naperville plans to put drones into use soon, although it’s unclear so far exactly how, when or where it will be done.
The city last month spent $1,200 on a drone for the fire department. But policy issues need to be considered before drones are activated by the city.
… city resident Todd Peterson, supports the devices’ use for public safety purposes. Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis emphasized the productive purposes for which the drone will be used and said significant restrictions are in place.
“In weather events where we have flooding situations and it’s very unsafe to send somebody near an area of the river, we could sent a drone – certainly not in a public area,” Puknaitis said, adding that the implements’ overhead surveillance functions also can be of great help in search and rescue operations. “Under other fire operational conditions, maybe collapses, other situations like that, we could see using this. … This not anything more than an additional tool to be used under very specific applications.”
This from Larry Shapiro:
Deerfield-Bannockburn firefighters were called for a house fire around noon on Friday (5/22/15) at 818 Forest Avenue. The alarm was upgraded by RED Center prior to companies arriving on-scene based on a report from police officers of smoke showing. They had fire on the first floor with smoke throughout of an older, two-story, frame house. Two lines were used and the bulk of the fire was knocked down within 10 minutes.
Units at the scene included Deerfield Engine 19 & 20, Ambulance 19, Truck 20, Battalion 20 and the chief officers plus Truck and Battalion 33 from Highland Park, Engine and Ambulance 52 from Lincolnshire-Riverwoods, Battalion 11 and Engine 10 from Northbrook, Morton Grove Squad 4, and Lake Forest Truck 421.
Here are some shots from the scene. I arrived about 15 minutes after the original dispatch.
More photos are at shapirophotography.net
From the Fire Service, Inc. Facebook page:
This from Larry Shapiro:
Buffalo Grove firefighters were called to 271 Lincoln Terrace this afternoon (5/21/15) after a worker that was cutting a tree apparently fell from a crane roughly 30-40 feet above a detached garage. After riding up with the crane ball to an upper tree limb, he tied off the large branch to the crane and the fell somehow and landed on the garage roof below.
Firefighters packed the patient on a backboard and into a stokes basket before lowering him to the ground for transport to an area hospital.
Here are a few images from the scene and a brief video.
More images are at shapirophotography.net
Excerpts from the DailyHerald.com:
A lawsuit filed by Barrington Wednesday charges the Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District is refusing to pay at least $1.2 million owed to a formerly joint firefighters pension fund.
But the fire district, in an audit, claims it has no liability for the pension fund.
The suit states that when the fire district split from the village-run fire department on Dec. 31, 2013, the pension fund was short $1.9 million. Village officials argue the fire district’s leaders in 2005 agreed to pay 64.25 percent of “fire services costs,” which includes pension obligations. That amounted to more than $1.2 million at the time of the split, according to the lawsuit. The village is also seeking more than $800,000 from the district in long-term disability insurance costs.
The final price tag might actually be higher, though. The suit also contends fire district officials asked the village to recalculate the outstanding pension liabilities based on a state pension-funding formula. That calculation increased the district’s costs to more than $2 million. A judge will not only have to determine whether the fire district owes the village anything, but if so, whether it’s $1.2 million or the new $2 million figure.
Village Manager Jeff Lawler said “this is unfortunate, but it’s of their doing … prior to the split, for 19 years they paid under this formula.”
Village officials said they have sent invoices to the district since the split, but the district has refused to pay the full amount village officials say they are owed. Last June, the village returned a $14,000 check the district sent to the village.
Before the split, the district paid the village to provide fire protection. But in years leading up to the separation, the district’s board became increasingly critical of how the village was operating the fire department. When the intergovernmental agreement came up for renewal, the two sides decided to part ways and split equipment and other physical resources.
Lawler said the separation agreement also noted that the district would be getting a bill for all unfunded pension obligations, which would likely be “of a seven-figure magnitude.”
The lawsuit also seeks reimbursement for legal costs associated with the village’s struggle to recoup retirement and disability benefit funding from the district.
The fire protection district’s most recently completed audit shows the district has more than $2.5 million in reserves. The district received the majority of its $5.9 million in revenue from property taxes, to the tune of $5.6 million in 2014. However, the district’s expenses were more than $6.2 million last year, according to the audit.
The audit also acknowledges the invoices from the village, but claims the district’s own calculations assumes no liability for the pension fund. It offers no suggestions on how to reconcile the dispute.
As for the long-term disability debt, the district argued in its audit that its payments should be made at the time the village pays claims, rather than an assumed total lifetime cost that may actually wind up being less.