This from Kevin Griffin:
Oak forest had a working fire tonight at 15727 Peggy Ln this unit was in fire about 5 weeks ago. 900 reported flames showing from the roof upon arrival.
Lightning is the cause of the fire.
The Chicago Sun-Times has an article with photos commemorating the life of veteran Chicago Batatlion Chief Oswald B. Lewis who died recently:
Through the Blizzard of ’67, the spectacular blaze that same year that destroyed Chicago’s first McCormick Place, and the 1968 riots that decimated the West Side, Oswald B. Lewis was there.
Mr. Lewis, who rose to the rank of battalion chief with the Chicago Fire Department, worked on Snorkel Squad 3, considered the busiest snorkel squad in the city. The unit, located at Francisco and Fillmore and later at Erie and Western, received about 20 fire calls a day — or nearly 7,000 runs a year.
“It was a crack outfit. They were running their wheels off,” said Kenneth Little, a department historian and retired fire-alarm operator, who added that firefighting improved with the squads’ then-new, flexible snorkels. “Everybody knew this guy was going places.”
Mr. Lewis knew his equipment. He didn’t ask anything of his firefighters that he wouldn’t do himself. He was adept at getting in and out of burning buildings. And he made sure no one was left behind.
“I got turned around in a basement and he came down looking for me and he found me,” retired Fire Lt. Mike Dineen said. “We both worked our way back out of there.”
“He always gave credit to us firefighters,” said Pete Cunningham, a retired deputy district chief. “If you did something worthwhile at a fire, he’d write you up for an award. He was always doing those extra things.”
Mr. Lewis, who joined the department in 1955, was considered an inspiration to young African-American firefighters. And he was a respected leader throughout a department with as many layers of tribal strata — racial, political, social — as its hometown. He died May 21 at Mercy Hospital. He was 89.
One of his toughest times on the department occurred when the West Side went up in flames after the 1968 shooting of civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. In addition to fighting fires, he had to duck homemade missiles lobbed by grief-furious rioters.
“It got to the point we had to be escorted by police,” said Jim Syler, a retired acting battalion chief. “If you drove on the Congress Expressway [now the Eisenhower], they were throwing bricks and rocks on the expressway at cars.”
Chicago’s first African-American firefighter was hired in 1872, said Little, who has co-authored four books on the department. But firehouses were largely segregated until about the mid-1960s, according to Dekalb Walcott Jr., a retired battalion chief who is working on a Chicago African American Firefighters Museum.
Mr. Lewis hit the books hard to ensure promotions, his daughter said. “He didn’t have a patron, he didn’t come from Bridgeport, he wasn’t Irish or Italian,” she said, “so you had to earn your peer’s respect. While it was good for him to be on the scene fighting fires and showing courage and leadership, he also had to pass those exams.”
His communication skills also helped him succeed, said Les Outerbridge, a retired fire engineer who co-founded the Afro American Firefighters League. “He could connect with people, [he was] very soft-spoken, very well-read, so he could really hold a conversation with just about everybody.”
After retiring from the department in 1979, he worked for the Occupational and Safety and Health Administration and at the National Safety Council.
This from Eric Haak:
Just before 1300 hrs Saturday, a small but powerful thunderstorm cell passed over the southside of Chicago bringing with it torrential rain. Witnesses said that there was a 30-second blast of wind which brought down a large tree limb on powerlines in the rear of a large home on Longwood Drive in the Beverly neighborhood. The fire appeared to have started at the base of the exterior wall and traveled up into the attic. The fire was brought under control in less than 15 minutes but I thought I would submit some images of these companies for those who may not get down to this end of the city very often.
This from Dan McInerney:
I took this in on the way home from work the other day. It was on the ramp that connects the westbound Kennedy to the northbound Tri-State tollway, just south of the toll plaza. Its always nice to see Rosemont’s rigs on the move with their Roto-Rays operating.
Larry Shapiro submitted several recent photos of area apparatus
Tags: Berwyn Fire Department, Cicero Fire Department, Cicero Fire Department Truck 2, E-ONE tractor-drawn aerial, fire truck photos, fire truck pictures, Larry Shapiro, Lyons Fire Department, Medtec Type I ambulance, Niles Fire Department, Pierce Arrow XT fire engine, Pierce Lance fire engine, Spartan fire engine
The Southtown Star has an article about the resignation of Chicago Ridge Fire Chief Robert Muszynski:
Citing “personal differences” with the village’s elected officials, Chicago Ridge Fire Chief Robert Muszynski has resigned over differences about changes the village is considering for the fire department. Muszynski’s resignation comes a few weeks after the village board encouraged Mayor Chuck Tokar to look at whether firefighter and/or ambulance service could be provided more efficiently. Now, firefighters say they’re worried about their jobs.
Changes could include hiring a private ambulance service, joining a fire protection district or adding a second ambulance at the former fire house at 107th Street and Lombard Avenue, Tokar said. Three older fire trucks are stored there and mainly used for training by paid-on-call firefighters, he said. The on-call firefighters sometimes are used when the village is busy with another call.
The main firehouse opened five years ago in an industrial park on Chicago Ridge’s west side, roughly two to three miles from the heart of the village’s residential area. Tokar and the board are concerned the distance may waste precious moments for ambulance calls that sometimes are answered by neighboring communities.
Adding a second ambulance would necessitate hiring up to eight more firefighters, Muszynski said.
That’s not in the cards in part because it would push the village’s annual pension levy upward of $1 million, Tokar countered. “We can’t afford to hire seven or eight to staff that 24/7. That’s way too expensive,” Tokar said.
When it became obvious that Muszynski would not budge, the board demanded his resignation through Tokar. The chief submitted his resignation letter Monday.
Firefighter/paramedic Christ Schmelzer, president of Chicago Ridge Professional Firefighters Local 3098, said “there’s a lot of tension in the firehouse.” “We basically fear for our jobs. No one has come over and told us to not worry. Everybody is running around scared,” he said.
Muszynski, 58, formerly of the Skokie and Schaumburg fire departments, was hired as chief in early 2011. Tokar said he was pleased with his performance as chief.
There’s no intention to lay off any full-time employees, Tokar said. Nevertheless, the fire department could be more efficient, he said. Ambulances from Alsip, Bridgeview, North Palos or Oak Lawn answer a large number of Chicago Ridge calls, he said. Another ambulance would keep more money in Chicago Ridge and help residents, he said. To slash costs the department could cut the number of firefighter/paramedics per call from two to one and stop sending a fire truck to every ambulance call, Tokar said.
In a June 4 interview, Schmelzer said there are 12 firefighter/paramedics and one lieutenant in the union, down from 17 a few years ago.
Local 3098 said in a letter that last year the fire department had 2,424 requests for service, with 1,599 of those for an ambulance. The department handled 87 percent of those calls, and outside agencies only were called in when they were busy on other calls, according to the letter.
The letter does say there are admittedly upsides to a protection district but urges all facets of any potential merger must be examined. Meanwhile, the village’s letter sent last week to residents hints that big changes are possible, saying they would “have no problem” with a fire department staffed by part-timers.
Both sides are in the midst of contract negotiations, which often can filled with heated exchanges and accusations.
The starting salary for firefighters is $45,000 Schmelzer said, but there’s been only one new hire in 10 years. Low staffing has forced overtime, and the village paid $45,000 in overtime over six weeks, Schmelzer said. The village said the highest base salary with benefits is more than $100,000 annually, counting overtime.
Tokar said he plans to talk with more fire department efficiency experts on ways to improve things in Chicago Ridge.
Tags: Chicago Ridge Fire Chief Robert Muszynski, Chicago Ridge Fire Department, Chicago Ridge Professional Firefighters Local 3098, Christ Schmelzer, fire chief resigns in Chicago Ridge, Mayor Chuck Tokar
This from Eric Haak:
Here are some images from a 2-11 alarm fire early Sunday morning. This fire was literally a half block south of Engine 109’s house on Kedzie. A few months back, Engine 109 had an extra-alarm fire directly across from their quarters. This morning’s fire was in an auto repair shop which was a newly constructed two-story in the front connected to an old truss roof one-story in the rear. The total building size was about 40×100 but the fire was contained primarily to the rear section which was 40×25. Five handlines were used in the alley along with one that was brought up Truck 32 to the roof of a neighboring building to the north. One multi-versal was used through the front overhead door and Tower Ladder 5 was put to work on Kedzie. Images seen here were taken approximately 35 minutes in. All four box engines were pumping with 99 in the alley, 109 in sector A, 107 to the south on Kedzie, and 38 in front of 109’s quarters which was kind of odd to see.
Tags: 2-11 alarm fire in Chicago, Chicago FD Engine 107, Chicago FD Engine 109, Chicago FD Engine 38, Chicago FD Engine 99, Chicago Fire Department, Chicago fire trucks at fire scene, Eric Haak, fire scene photos, firemen with hoselines
The Daily Herald has an article about an automatic aid agreement that has been signed between the Village of Barrington Fire Department and the Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District.
Nearly six months after their acrimonious breakup, the Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District and the Barrington Fire Department have reached an automatic aid agreement governing when, how and where each will respond to emergencies in the other’s jurisdiction.
The deal, ratified by both sides Monday evening, calls for the district to respond to all commercial fire alarms in the village of Barrington that occur west of Route 59. In return, the Barrington Fire Department will provide fire and emergency medical service coverage to sections of the district that are in the vicinity of the village’s fire station at 400 N. Northwest Highway.
The agreement was negotiated by district Fire Chief Jeff Swanson and Barrington Fire Chief Jim Arie.
“We are confident that (the agreement) improves public safety for residents of both the district and village, and ensures that the aid we provide will be reciprocated when we need it,” Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District board President Thomas C. Long said.
Prior to Jan. 1, the fire district paid the village of Barrington to provide fire protection services to its 48-square mile jurisdiction, which includes the towns of Barrington Hills, South Barrington, Lake Barrington, Inverness and unincorporated Cook, Lake and McHenry counties. But after disputes over staffing and equipment needs, the fire district ended the relationship and launched its own department at the start of the year.
Tags: automatic aid agreements between fire departments, Barrington & Countryside Fire Protection District, Barrington and Countryside Fire Protection District, Barrington Fire Chief Jim Arie, Barrington Fire Department, Fire Chief Jeff Swanson
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