Archive for February 23rd, 2016

Palatine Fire Department history

The Ben Franklin store fire killed three Palatine firefighters. John Tobin photo

John Tobin photo

The Ben Franklin store fire killed three Palatine firefighters. John Tobin photo

John Tobin photo

Excerpts from

When fire broke out at the Ben Franklin five-and-dime store on Feb. 23, 1973, John Tobin was a high school senior who lived about a mile from downtown Palatine.

It was early that morning and his father, Dave, then a second lieutenant with the village’s volunteer fire department, had already left for the scene. So had the assistant chief, who lived across the street. Tobin felt he had no choice but to ditch school. He started running toward the fire. Towering over the fire was Palatine’s 1969, [75-foot Snorkel].

But nothing had prepared him for what he saw that morning. Staring at the scene in shock, Tobin heard one firefighter say three others were trapped in the basement.

In his rush to get to the fire, Tobin had forgotten his camera. He ran home to get it and when he got back to downtown Palatine he saw his father working on the fire outside and knew he was safe.

“It wasn’t until hours later we found out who was in there,” Tobin said. Three firefighters were killed — Warren Ahlgrim, Richard Freeman and John Wilson — after they were trapped in the basement filled with carbon monoxide.

The fire was 43 years ago, and Tobin has never forgotten the emotions of that day and how it changed him.

All these years he could never get the image of [the Snorkel] out of his mind.

Tracking it down became something like an obsession for him. He heard it had been sold to downstate Salem, Illinois, in 1981. In 2003 he stopped in Salem overnight while driving home from a convention. But by then Salem had sold the truck to Pierceton, Indiana. So he paid a visit.

Earlier this year, Pierceton officials were ready to sell the old truck. They called Tobin, who told them the best he could offer was $5,000. They accepted.

“This is my childhood idol of a truck,” Tobin said.

For the past few days Tobin has been hard at work at the Bartlett Fire Department, where the truck is being housed while he buffs the paint, fixes the lights and creates a tribute to Ahlgrim, Freeman, and Wilson.

“It brings back old memories and it honors those firefighters that were killed that day,” Tobin says.

On Tuesday the restored truck was in downtown Palatine, exactly where it had been 43 years ago, as Palatine held its annual memorial service at the Firefighters Memorial at Brockway and Slade streets.
After the memorial service, Tobin plans to keep the truck in a barn on his property in West Dundee.

thanks Dan

The Ben Franklin store fire killed three Palatine firefighters.

The Ben Franklin store fire killed three Palatine firefighters. John Tobin photo

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Plainfield Fire Protection District news

From the Plainfield Fire Protection District:

Michael Ludemann

Michael Ludemann. Plainfield FPD photo

It is with profound sadness and deep regret that the Plainfield Fire Protection District announces the passing of our Emergency Vehicle Technician (EVT) Michael L. Ludemann, Sr., who passed away suddenly on Sunday, February 21, 2016. He was 54 years old.

EVT Michael Ludemann, an 11-year veteran of the Plainfield Fire Protection District, was hired on June 21, 2004. Mike will be remembered by his friends and co-workers as a genuine person that was always willing to help anyone in need. Mike’s sudden passing is profound and will be felt by all the members of his fire family and the community in which he served. Our hearts and deepest condolences go out to his wife Mary and Mike’s family and friends.

Visitation will be Thursday, Feb. 25, from 3 to 8 p.m. at the Overman-Jones Funeral Home & Cremation Services, located at the corner of Routes 30 & 59 in Plainfield. Funeral Services will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 26 at St. John Lutheran Church, located at 2650 Plainfield Rd. in Joliet. Interment will follow at Plainfield Township Cemetery.

thanks Dan

From the

The Plainfield Fire Protection District lost a treasured friend when emergency vehicle technician Michael L. Ludemann died suddenly Sunday. Fire Chief David Riddle said Ludemann’s wife, fire district inspector and spokeswoman, Mary Kay Ludemann, told him Michael  wasn’t feeling well Sunday. He was taken to Edward Hospital in Naperville, where he died Sunday afternoon.

“The mood has been very somber here,” Riddle said. “He had no previous history we were aware of that indicated something like this.”

Michael Ludemann fixed and maintained the fire district’s vehicles, but he also made close friendships with those from other Plainfield agencies. Before working for the Plainfield fire district, Ludemann did repair work for the Lockport Township and Downers Grove fire districts.

Riddle said Michael Ludemann touched the lives of everybody who worked with him since he came to the district in 2004. He was well-liked and known as the go-to guy around the fire district.

Riddle said the fire district will honor Michael Ludemann by holding a solemn walk-through at his wake.

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Working fire in Cicero, 2-20-16

This from Josh Boyajian:

Cicero had a working fire @ 2347 s 50th ave Saturday night. F12 arrived to find fire showing from both B&D sides. They had two lines lead out and main to roof. Companies made a quick aggressive attack and knocked the fire fairly fast.

flames blowing out a window

Josh Boyajian photo

flames blowing out a window

Josh Boyajian photo

thick smoke from house fire

Josh Boyajian photo

old Seagrave fire truck at fire scene

Josh Boyajian photo

firefighters on roof of fire building

Josh Boyajian photo

firefighters overhaul after house fire

Josh Boyajian photo

old Seagrave fire truck at fire scene

Josh Boyajian photo

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Oak Lawn Fire Department history

This from Mike Summa:

Hello there,
I took my family to a fire show in the early 1990s in Chicago Ridge.  I snapped this picture of Oak Lawn’s then-new Ward LaFrance engine, turned into a squad truck.  Thought that I’d like to share.
Thank you,
Mike S.
Oak Lawn FD Squad 1

Oak Lawn Squad 1. Mike Summa photo

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