Archive for July 18th, 2013

Barrington & Countryside FPD update

The Barrington Courier Review has an article about the split between the Village of Barrington and the Barrington & Countryside FPD.

Barrington, fire district to proceed separately

BARRINGTON — A consultant’s report presented Monday night to the Barrington Village Board revealed that 20 firefighters and paramedics could be laid off when the village and the Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District begin operating as separate entities on Jan. 1, 2014.

During a separate meeting Monday night, the Fire Protection District announced former New Lenox fire chief Jeff Swanson as its interim administrator.

Speaking at the Village Board meeting, William Balling, from WRB Consultants, outlined two options for the Barrington department. The first option recommended a total staffing of 16 sworn personnel, including 14 operations and two administrative positions. That staffing plan would result in 22 layoffs. The second option recommended a total staffing of 18 personnel, including 16 in operations and two administrative positions.

In either case, the staffing change would be a considerable decrease from the 39 sworn personnel under the expiring intergovernmental agreement with the Fire Protection District.

“We need to retool and redesign,” said Balling. “We think this is a logical progression.”

Balling recommended staffing the Barrington station with 18 personnel, which would cost about $80,000 more per year than the 16 staff model.

The board is expected to make a decision at its next meeting, scheduled for Aug. 19.

In explaining the downsizing, village leaders cited the much smaller geographic area — about five square miles — that village firefighters will serve starting in 2014. Village Manager Jeff Lawler said Fire Station 1, located in Barrington, receives about five to six calls a day, most of which are emergency medical calls.

As part of the reorganization, the village intends to reduce the number of personnel on ambulances and other apparatus from three to two.

Lawler said this will provide Station 1 with greater flexibility.

“What it’s doing is it’s aligning the assets and personnel at Station 1 with the most common calls, which are EMS calls,” he said.

During his presentation, Balling said many neighboring cities including Arlington Heights and Palatine have adopted a two-person ambulance model.

“Two-person ambulances are not a new phenomenon,” he said, adding that there could be flexibility on that number if needed.

Last month, the district proposed that the village lease 18 Barrington firefighters to the district for a two-year period. During that time, the district would consider a tax levy referendum to fund pensions and health care costs for the firefighters.

Village President Karen Darch cited legacy costs, including pensions and disability liabilities that could cost taxpayers millions, as a reason not to lease the 18 firefighters.

On Monday night, Darch outlined the department’s budget, including current operations, infrastructure, employee pensions and Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds. Her goal was to explain that every dollar that goes into pension funds is a dollar that cannot support those other service areas.

“We have a responsibility to spend the revenue that comes into this village wisely,” Darch said.

But many residents in the board room audience expressed concern that the level and quality of emergency services will suffer after the separation.

“Without a doubt, putting money before safety is a horrible choice,” said Barrington resident Carrie Raia, expressing concern about longer response times.

Residents also expressed concern about first responders getting caught behind trains that run through town. Darch, however, said Barrington has a cooperative relationship with Lake Zurich Rural Fire Protection District, which supports Barrington operations when needed.

But residents remained undeterred in criticizing the board for the proposed reductions in personnel.

“This is a catastrophe now and I don’t know if we can stop it or not,” said Barrington resident Char McLear, who served as assistant to the Barrington fire chief before retiring.

Balling explained that his report was based on incident coverage, station availability and location, operational staffing, apparatus and mobile equipment, infrastructure, and automatic and mutual aid agreements and special response times.

“There are a lot of moving parts,” he said.

Also on Monday night, the Fire Protection District’s board approved a new contract with the private firm Paramedic Services of Illinois to provide emergency personnel in 2014.

The district board also discussed the possibility of levying a new tax to fund pensions applied to career firefighters furloughed from the village. The levy could appear on the March 2014 primary ballot at the earliest.

“The district has to put that question to the voters,” said Robert Buhs, a consultant and executive director of the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association.

Our last post can be viewed HERE.

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Antioch Fire Department to provide EMS in the village (more)

Recent posts have followed the decision of the Village of Antioch to obtain EMS from the fire department instead of the Antioch Rescue Squad.

Jeff Rudolph submitted this image of an ambulance in one of the fire stations.

Antioch fire has contracted to Superior for medics. This is what they're running
Antioch Fire Department to provide EMS

Superior Ambulacne in the Antioch fire station. Jeff Rudolph photo

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Down memory lane …

Another installment from Steve Redick:

… some photos from Cicero back in the 80s …
  • I remember this was 2 or 3 frames … the white Grove aerial was one of two white rigs they had as I recall …  another was a Ford COE engine …
Cicero Fire Department history

Steve Redick photo

Cicero Fire Department history

Steve Redick photo

Cicero Fire Department history

Steve Redick photo

Cicero Fire Department history

Steve Redick photo

  • a shot of truck 10 at an extra alarm on Goose island … very smoky job … a pallet company I recall …
Chicago Fire Department history

Steve Redick photo

  • Skokie RT17 the rig that caused a truck company to be eliminated … Skokie was never the same after that in my opinion …
Skokie FIre Department history

Steve Redick photo

Steve asks:
Who can name this firehouse? … hint … not Chicago
fire station photo

Steve Redick photo

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A visit to Chicago FD Engine 94’s house

This from Dan McInerney:

Engine 94 at 5758 W. Grace (at Menard). Can’t say I like the planters too much as they disrupt an otherwise good photo angle of the firehouse, as it faces south and is on a NE corner.


Chicago firehouse photo

Firehouse for Chicago Engine 94. Dan McInerney photo

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Evanston Fire Department history (more)

Another historic perspective provided by Phil Stenholm about the Evanston Fire Department:

The Evanston Fire Department (EFD) has been providing ambulance service to the City of Evanston since 1976, athough Evanston firefighters had been responding to “inhalator calls” since 1913.

The Evanston Police Department (EPD) was the ambulance provider pre-1976, running a horse-drawn police ambulance out of its HQ station as far back as the 1890?s.

The EPD acquired an automobile ambulance in 1916 (it was quartered in a bay just to the east of the firehouse at 807 Grove Stree), and then beginning in 1958, the EPD implemented the so-called “Police-Fire Cooperative Plan,” where Evanston Police officers were cross-trained as firefighters.

The cross-trained cops patroled in station-wagons (Car 31, Car 32, and Car 33, they were called at the time), each equipped with a stretcher, an inhalator, first-aid supplies, fire extinguishers, axes, and turnout gear. These two-man Police units responded to inhalator calls, ambulance runs, and fires, in addition to their other police-related activities. (The station-wagons were very soon cut-back to one-man units and new Police Officers were no longer cross-trained as firefighters, but the EPD did continue to provide ambulance service with its three patrol station-wagons).

In addition to the three EPD station-wagons, the Evanston Fire Department maintained three stretcher-equipped staff cars: F-5 (Training Officer) at Station #1, F-1 (Chief’s Buggy) at Station #2, and F-3 (Fire Prevention Inspector) at Station #5, that were used as back-up ambulances (when they weren’t in use eleswhere) in case none of the EPD patrol ambulances were available.

In the Summer of 1974, the Illinois Department of Health loaned an MICU to the Evanston Fire Department for a 90-day trial. The EFD did not have any paramedics at that time and the MICU was not equipped with ALS gear, but it did give the EFD a chance to be the city’s primary ambulance service for a while.

Everybody was favorably impressed (especially the Police Officers, who wanted no part of being ambulance attendants), and the Evanston Fire Department Paramedic Program commenced at St Francis Hospital in 1975, with an eye toward implementing Paramedic & Fire Eepartment ambulance service in 1976.

However, Evanston Mayor Jim Staples wanted the ambulance service to remain in the hands of the Police Department (Staples liked the idea of having ambulances “on the street” 24/7 instead of parked in a firehouse), but even he changed his mind after Police Chief William McHugh said that the EPD was busy enough just dealing with the sky-rocketing crime rate in the city, without having to continue to provide ambulance service, too.

The first ambulance (a 1975 Dodge van MICU with ALS equipment donated by Evanston’s own Washington National Insurance Company) was placed into service at Station #1 in January 1976.

Ambulance 1 was initially staffed by three firefighters (two paramedics and one paramedic trainee), as manpower assigned to Squad 21 was reduced to just a driver. Ambulance 1 responded to all EMS calls anywhere in the city, responding alone to calls in Station #1?s stil district, and with a support engine in other areas.

Once on the scene, the senior paramedic on-board had to determine if the call was BLS or ALS. If it was an ALS call Ambulance 1 would handle it, but if it was determined to be BLS, a police station-wagon ambulance or one of the auxiliary Fire Department station-wagon ambulance would be dispatched to relieve Ambulance 1 and make the transport, so that Ambulance 1 could go back into service ASAP.

During 1976 the City Council approved the purchase of a second MICU ambulance for the Fire Department, and plans were made to staff the two ambulances with two-man crews (both paramedics), and take Squad 21 completely out of service.

In November 1976 Ambulance 1 was nearly demolished in a traffic collision (ambulance was struck broadside by a drunk driver) at Church & Ridge while en route to a call on Dewey Avenue (the three firefighters on-board and a nurse from St. Francis Hospital on a ride-along were injured), and because Ambulance 2 was on order but had not yet arrived, the Skokie Fire Department loaned one of its old Cadillac ambulances to the Evanston F. D.

It wasn’t an MICU, but the Cadillac did run as Ambulance 1 until the new Ambulance 2 arrived a few days later, and then Evanston decided to keep the Cadi as a reserve ambulance. (Evanston purchased the ambulance from Skokie).

The Evanston Fire Department’s second ambulance (Ambulance 2) was placed into service in January 1977, and both Ambulance 1 (the Skokie Cadillac ambulance) and the new MICU modular ambulance were in service at Station #1.

Both ambulances were ALS-equipped and staffed with two paramedics, but Ambulance 2 took all “first-call” EMS runs, and (because it wasn’t an MICU vehicle) Ambulance 1 responded to fire calls, and to EMS calls only if Ambulance 2 was unavailable.

The original Ambulance 1 (the 1975 Dodge van MICU) was eventually repaired and went back into service during 1977. The response plan did not change, however, as Ambulance 2 still took all first- call EMS runs.

The Cadillac ambulance then became Ambulance 3, an unmanned BLS unit that was staffed only when a third ambulance was needed. (ALS gear was purchased for Ambulance 3 in 1978).

Two new Ford modular MICUs were added in 1980, the new Ambulance 1 and the new Ambulance 2. The Cadillac ambulance and the ’75 Dodge van MICU were junked, and the old Ambulance 2 (1977 Dodge modular MICU) became Ambulance 3.

At this point Ambulance 1 and Ambulance 2 were split-up, with Ambulance 1 assigned to Fire Station #1, and Ambulance 2 assigned to Fire Station #2. The border separating the two districts was Dempster Street (same as the border separating Truck 21 and Truck 22). Ambulance 3 was located at Station #1, and was staffed when needed by personnel from Truck Co. 21 (presuming Truck 21 was available)

Within a year both front-line ambulances were back together at Station #1, with A-1 first-due east of Asbury, and A-2 first-due west of Asbury, and Amubulance 3 went to Station #2 and was staffed by personnel from Truck Co. 22 when needed.

The arrangement was altered again in 1982, when the two ambulances began to alternate responses (that was actually my suggestion), with A-1 taking a call, then A-2 would take the next one, then A-1, then A-2, etc. This way, an ambulance crew would know which ambulance was “on the bubble” for the next run, and the one that wasn’t could take a bit of a break. (The two ambulances were very busy back then, and presumably still are)

Ambulance 3 was moved back to Station #1 at this time, staffed when needed by personnel from Truck Co. 21 (which always had two paramedics on-board in case it needed to man A-3).

In 1986, Ambulance 2 was moved to Station #4, and Ambulance 1 was now first-due to calls in Station 1 and Station 3 areas, and Ambulance 2 responded first-due to calls in Stations 2, 4, and 5 areas, with Ambulance 3 in ready-reserve at Station #1. The EFD command staff believed that the two front-line ambulances should be separated to provide faster paramedic response city-wide.

In furtherance of this desire, the “jump company” plan was implemented in 1989. Engine companies 21, 22, and 25 were designated “jump companies,” meaning they were four-man crews with two paramedics among the four, operating as a “two-piece company” (an engine and an ambulance). Engine 23 and 24 no longer responded to EMS calls, and Truck Co. 21 no longer was responsible for manning the third ambulance.

The “jump company” plan did not work out at all, because the three “jump” engine companies would go out of service for long periods of time while on runs, leaving the city with inadequate engine coverage during those periods.

So the “jump company plan” (mostly) went away the next year, as Amblance 21 and Ambulance 22 went back to two-paramedic units at Station #1 and Station #2 respectively, the five engine companies went back to being engine companies, and Truck 21 was relocated to Station #3 (becoming the reborn Truck Co. 23), with Ambulance 23 also now at Fire Station #3 and available to be manned (when needed) by personnel from Station #3.

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