Archive for January 15th, 2015

Fight continues for Kankakee firefighter with Lou Gehrig’s disease

Excerpts from a followup article by about Kankakee firefighter Derek Hogg

A Kankakee firefighter with a fatal disease is getting new help in his battle against City Hall.

Derek Hogg, a firefighter diagnosed with ALS–Lou Gehrig’s disease, is about to be dumped from his job, just months short of qualifying for his pension.

Hogg said he and his wife holly have been swamped with letters, calls and emails after FOX 32 first reported last week on his fight to get his pension. “We had thousands of people respond, and come and say how can we help? We support you and we have your back,” said Hogg’s wife Holly.

Two years ago, the 31-year-old firefighter was diagnosed with ALS, a terminal illness. As Hogg’s condition worsened, he had to give up firefighting and was put on desk duty.

On February 19th, Hogg’s job and his FMLA will expire, just months short of his June 1st anniversary date. That’s the date Hogg would qualify for a disability pension of $3200 a month. It is money that would continue to be paid to his wife and two young children after he dies.

Hogg’s fellow firefighters volunteered to come to his rescue and work his shifts until June 1, but Kankakee mayor Nina Epstein shot that plan down saying it’s not allowed by pension law.

For 35 years, Wendy Abrams has run the Les Turner ALS Foundation in Chicago, which has raised tens of millions of dollars for research and helping patients with ALS.

After seeing FOX 32’s story, Abrams wrote a letter to the Kankakee mayor, asking her to reconsider her decision. “I figured she was the one who made the decision, so I should just tell her how I felt,” said Abrams.

“In my heart I know that you personally would like to help this family, but we need you now to step up, be creative and make it happen,” the letter read.

“Most employers want to help. They really don’t want to deny the people that have worked for them so long to make them comfortable in their time of need,” Abrams said.

The Les Turner ALS Foundation is planning a social media campaign to put heat on the mayor, and is also supplying the Hogg’s with a lawyer to explore whether Kankakee has followed the law.

On Wednesday, Mayor Epstein told FOX 32 News by phone that she’s received many “hateful responses” to her decision, but cannot change her mind. “I understand the emotion, but I do not understand how people are asking me to forget the legal basis for this decision…We have done everything possible to accommodate this man, short of granting him his pension,” she said.


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As seen around … the south suburbs

This from Brad Steinweg:

Calumet city MVA with 1 transport. 154th St & Burnham AVE. Occurred around 13:00 (1/15/15).

car crash

Brad Steinweg photo

car crash

Brad Steinweg photo

Lansing 2nd alarm HAZMAT box @ 175th st & Chicago Ave (1/15/15). Acid leak with around 500 gallons spilled.

Brad Steinweg photo

Brad Steinweg photo

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Box Alarm in Orland Park, 1-14-15

Video by William Neumann

From the Chicago Tribune:

Firefighters rescued two people from a blaze in their Orland Park home shortly before noon Wednesday, officials said. The two residents suffered burns and smoke inhalation and were treated at the scene before being taken to Palos Community Hospital for additional treatment, fire district officials said.

When firefighters arrived, the home in the 7600 block of Wheeler Drive was “consumed” by fire, and heavy black smoke streamed from the windows, Orland Fire Protection District officials said in a statement.

Fire Chief Ken Brucki said the two residents were moving under their own power but needed some help from firefighters to escape the fire. Their pet dog was already out of the home when firefighters arrived, he said.

thanks Dan


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Chicago FF files lawsuit against Elkhart Brass

Excerpts from The

A Chicago firefighter is suing Elkhart Brass and two of its executives, alleging the firefighting equipment maker has violated their contract to make, market, and sell a device he invented to fight high-rise fires, and is trying to claim it invented the device.

The HERO (High-rise Emergency Response Offensive) Pipe mounts to the window sill or floor below a fire that breaks out above the 12th floor, which is too high to reach with water from a ladder truck, and extends a telescoping arm upward, delivering water to the floor above.

The suit states that Michael Wielgat, now a captain, conceived the idea in 2004 after battling a fire at Chicago’s 45-story LaSalle Bank building that trapped dozens of people above the 29th floor for hours as firefighters struggled for access.

In 2007, the U.S. Patent Office published Wielgat’s patent. In 2010, after years of building and testing prototypes with the Chicago and New York fire departments, the FDNY asked that the HERO Pipe be fitted with a remote control or movable monitor to better direct the water spray from side to side, the suit states. Wielgat asked Elkhart Brass to loan him such a monitor, and the tests using it proved successful, prompting the FDNY to order four HERO Pipes.

Wielgat formed Hero Systems Inc. in April 2010 and sometime late that year, Elkhart Brass chief operating officer Don Sjolin approached him with an offer to manufacture the product, projecting sales that would top $1 million in the first year and grow exponentially thereafter, the suit alleges. In April 2011, the parties entered into a license and manufacturing agreement.

But a month before that agreement was signed, unbeknownst to Wielgat, Elkhart Brass, having received Wielgat’s drawings and engineering analysis for the HERO Pipe, filed patent applications in the United States and China for the HERO Pipe in its own name, identifying Elkhart Brass employees Steve Bollinger, Curt McDowell and Bruce Behenna as the inventors, the suit alleges.

The suit accuses defendants Elkhart Brass, Sjolin and president/CEO Hans Ashbaugh in scheming to fail in their efforts to sell or market the HERO Pipe, eventually terminate the agreement, “feigning an inability” to sell the device, and once the agreement was terminated, start marketing and selling it as its own invention. Their agreement with Wielgat effectively ended in December when Elkhart Brass stopped paying him for expenses, the suit states.

Hero Systems Inc.’s suit was filed Friday, Jan. 9, in the northern Indiana U.S. District Court in South Bend.

thanks Dan

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