Archive for March 1st, 2015

Medora (IL) Fire Chief Killed in Accident (more)

Excerpts from

Firefighters bear witness to tragedy. It is part of the job. Solace is often found in the idea that others might learn from our very worst moment and prevent a future tragedy from happening.

The recent death of Medora (Ill.) Volunteer Fire Chief Kenneth Lehr was such a tragedy. A seemingly inexplicable and senseless incident, it provoked emotion and strong reactions from many.

As often happens with such incidents, the immediate reaction by some was to find someone to blame. In the case of Chief Lehr’s death, that person was Firefighter/Engineer Patrick Cullum, who drove the truck that killed his chief.

On the afternoon of Feb. 5, a landing zone (LZ) was set-up to a fly a patient with a significant injury to a trauma center. This LZ was deemed unsuitable and a second location was selected approximately one mile away. Cullum drove the fire engine from the first LZ to the second.

As Cullum, 47, pulled the fire engine off the highway in the area being established as the second LZ, he visually located nearby personnel and took note that they were 10 to 15 yards away. Chief Kenneth Lehr is believed to have ridden the engine’s tailboard, unknown to Cullum, between the two landing zones. In the seconds between stopping and the putting the fire engine in reverse, Lehr either fell or stepped off the engine’s tailboard. He was run over by the reversing truck, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Cullum says he will regret for the rest of his life not taking 10 more seconds to find a spotter before reversing the fire engine.

“Someone notified me that Chief Lehr had been on the back of the truck and fallen under before I could stop,” said Cullum. “It was not an accident. It was my responsibility to ensure a safe truck. In an accident there is nothing that could have been done to change the outcome. An incident, even when the outcome is tragic, could have been prevented.”

The preliminary state police report and early news reports of the incident were thin on specific details about the patient’s injuries, the request for an ambulance, the departments that responded, and where the landing zones were located. Those details will likely be clear in the final OSHA report.

Cullum is not the first and he will not be the last emergency responder to reverse a fire engine or an ambulance without a spotter. Backing without a spotter is an example of normalization of deviance by emergency responders, similar to failing to wear a seatbelt or being distracted while driving an emergency vehicle.

Medora is small community. Members of Lehr’s family asked Cullum not to participate in the funeral and also asked him to resign from the department a few days after the incident. He honored both wishes.


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New home for Bedford Park tower ladder

Bill Friedrich found the following information at the news

Fire department to get new aerial ladder

Pictured is the Portage la Prairie Emergency Services 2000 Pierce Dash 100-foot Aerial Platform truck, which was purchased in January 2014 for $410,000. (Submitted Photo)

Good things just keep happening at Portage la Prairie Emergency Services.

After receiving $1 million to build an addition, selling an old fire truck for a good cause, and after more than a year of searching, the fire department has finally closed a sale on a new aerial ladder.

“I think it’s really exciting. It’s been a long time coming,” said fire chief Phil Carpenter. “It’s been 18-months since we haven’t had an aerial ladder, so there’s been a few times where we could have used it, and we have pieces in place if we needed to get one from Brandon or Winkler if it was a huge emergency. Buying a used truck turned out to be a tougher task then anticipated.”

Council gave Carpenter a budget of $400,000 for the 2000 Pierce Dash 100-foot Aerial Platform truck, which cost $410,000 and was purchased from Carriere Fire and Safety Co. 1988 Ltd. Carpenter expects the new truck to arrive in Portage in April or May.

“The (Illinois fire department) we’re getting it from is getting a new aerial and they haven’t got it yet; they won’t get it until March and they’ll have to do some training with it,” he said.

Prior to the purchase, Carpenter and a Carriere Fire representative Ben Vanderzwaag went to Bedford Park, Illinois, to inspect and test the unite to ensure it was in working condition. Carriere Fire will “Canadianize” the aerial ladder, according to Carpenter, by putting in a heater in the pump compartment, new tires, paint, and rebuilding the motor prior to its arrival in Portage.

Carpenter said the firefighters will have to be trained on the new ladder and that training was included in the purchase price.

Proceeds from the sale of the 1976 aerial truck and 1984 pumper truck will be transferred to the fire truck reserve. Carpenter hopes to get $30,000 for the pumper and is uncertain about the amount he might get for the aerial ladder as it failed certification. He said the ladder might go for scrap and could bring in about $2,000 although he hopes to get more either through a sale or at the metal yard.

Bedford park FD Truck 709 Pierce Dash tower ladder

Bedford Park Truck 709 has been sold and will be transferred after the new tower ladder is delivered. Bill Friedrich photo

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Box Alarm in Lake Zurich, 2/28/15

A few images from Tim Olk after the fact at the house fire in Lake Zurich at 593 Peach Tree Lane on 2/28/15.

aftermath from house fire

Tim Olk photo

Lake Zurich fire engine

Tim Olk photo

aftermath from house fire

Tim Olk photo

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