Archive for May, 2016

Chicago Fire Department news

Excerpts from

Some of the 70 candidates graduating from the Chicago Fire Academy are making history … women in their 40s and 50s. After completing the academically challenging and physically grueling six-month training, none area as joyful as those who waited 20 years for this. These strong women in their 40s and 50s holding their own with the younger candidates.

Twelve of the candidates graduating Tuesday applied to be firefighters in 1995. The women were part of two class action lawsuits: one for racial discrimination and another for gender discrimination. With the lawsuit settlements, they finally got their chances to be firefighters.

After graduation the women will be on probation for a year as candidate firefighters. Some may not be working for very long because, per department policy, the mandatory retirement age for firefighters is 63. Per the lawsuit settlement, when the women do retire they will have the seniority as if they had started working years ago.

There were 52 who were part of a class action suit claiming that Chicago Fire Department testing discriminated against women. Not everyone was interested in proceeding and some did not pass the tests. Twelve women remain and will now represent the class working for the CFD.

thanks Dan

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House fire in Glenview, 5-30-16

Glenview firefighters were called to 526 Woodland Drive on Monday afternoon (5/30/16) for a house with heavy black smoke filling the structure. The header was visible as companies responded to the scene and the alarm was upgraded to a Code 4 for the working fire. Northfield, Wilmette, Morton Grove, and Skokie units were due on the alarm. The fire was contained quickly to a bedroom and portion of the attic though the home’s interior sustained heavy smoke damage throughout.

E-ONE e-MAX fire engine

Larry Shapiro photo

Glenview FD Pierce Arrow XT fire engines

Larry Shapiro photo

firemen repack hose after a fire

Larry Shapiro photo

house in Glenview IL

Larry Shapiro photo

more photos at

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House fire in the Central Stickney FPD, 5-26-16 (more)

Video fro Eric Haak of the Central Stickney house fire the other night4830 s Lockwood

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Of interest … Bloomington FD history

Excerpts from the

Although it hasn’t served as a Bloomington Fire Department station for well over seven decades, old Engine House No. 4 on South Main Street is still standing and, all things considered, not looking too bad.

The old firehouse has survived all these years as home to a series of small businesses, some successful and others not so much. Yet its years as a BFD engine house, from 1903 until its closing around 1941, tells us plenty about Bloomington’s rich history. Most remarkably, it was in the early 1920s that a dispute over the fate of this firehouse led to a change in Bloomington’s form of municipal government.

The story begins on the night of June 19-20, 1900, when 45 buildings and 4½ blocks of downtown, including the 1868 courthouse, were lost in what is now called the Great Bloomington Fire.

It took a disaster of this size and scope for city leaders to get serious, dollar-wise, about fire protection. A joint committee charged with upgrading the fire department recommended the construction of a modern, centrally located headquarters station and several outlying, or neighborhood, engine houses. The city floated a $34,000 bond issue (or the equivalent of nearly $900,000 today, adjusted for inflation) to pay for the expansion project.

Central Fire Station, located on the 200 block of East Front Street, opened November 1902. This old firehouse is now home to the foodie favorite Epiphany Farms restaurant. Completed four months later, in March 1903, were two smaller engine houses, No. 3 on the 800 block of North Center Street, and No. 4 at 914 S. Main St.

All three firehouses were designed by George H. Miller, one of the most influential architects in Bloomington history. The two outlying engine houses were likely identical or a mirror-image of each other, though No. 3 was torn down a long time ago.

The first firemen assigned to Engine House No. 4, according to The Pantagraph, included Capt. Patrick Twoomey, Joe Burt and Albert Radbourn. (The latter was brother of fellow Bloomington firefighter John Radbourn and future National Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn.)

It’s likely the neoclassic brick engine house trimmed in brick and stone once featured a bell tower, though it’s not known when it was taken down. The building has also lost one of two bay doors that opened onto Main Street.

Engine House No. 4 opened more than 20 years before the first viaduct (or bridge) spanned the two east-west rail lines running through the warehouse district south of downtown. The new station thus brought peace of mind to many residents of South Hill, the heavily German neighborhood south of downtown, who worried that freight and passenger trains were blocking grade crossings and thus slowing the fire department’s response time to alarms on the city’s south side.

Yet less than two decades after opening, with the fire department converting its horse-drawn wagons to motorized fire trucks, the future of Engine House No. 4 looked bleak. By the early 1920s, BFD Chief Henry Mayer maintained that motorization of the department made neighborhood fire stations, in a community as geographically compact as Bloomington, increasingly redundant. Accordingly, on May 1, 1920, the city shuttered Engine House No. 4, just as the department’s few remaining horses were put out to pasture at Miller Park.

With this decision a large number of south siders began grumbling that the loss of the South Main Street fire station left their side of town at risk. On July 8, 1921, for instance, a residential garage at 704 S. Center St. burned down after fire department equipment and personnel were held up for several minutes at the Center Street grade crossing by a Big Four Railroad train.

As a result, a committee representing 200 South Hill petitioners called for the reopening of their neighborhood firehouse, at least until a South Main Street viaduct could be built over the Big Four and Lake Erie and Western Railroad tracks.

At the July 22, 1921 city council meeting, Fire Chief Mayer argued for keeping the south side firehouse closed and in its stead installing a block signal system. Under such a setup, fire alarms in the city’s south end would automatically trigger trackside red lights alerting train crews to keep open key grade crossings south of downtown.

Supporters of the south side firehouse remained so unhappy with city officials that they successfully circulated a petition to change the commission form of city government (which had been in effect for eight years) back to the more traditional aldermanic type. There was a growing sentiment among residents from working class and ethnic Irish and German areas northwest, west and south of downtown that their interests were neglected under the newer form of government. They believed it placed a premium on nonpartisan, technocratic governance at the expense of shoe-leather politics and ward-level patronage better suited to meet the unique needs of each neighborhood. On July 11, 1922, by a 57 to 43 percent margin, city residents voted to return to the previous form of government that placed a premium on retail politicking.

It took a few years, but continued pressure by South Hill residents to re-staff Engine House No. 4, at least until completion of the South Main Street viaduct, finally paid off. To much fanfare, the south side firehouse opened once again on Sept. 2, 1924.

The south side station closed for good as a firehouse around 1941, and over the years it has seen more than a dozen businesses come and go.

Since the 1980s, for example, it has been home to Raymond D. Fairchild Jr.’s various enterprises, such as Fairchild’s Hubcap, Tires and Wheels, as well as Frank Wright’s many ventures, including Wright’s Painting & Window Cleaning Co. and AAA Wright’s Small Engine Repair Shop.

Despite the many changes over the years, the building remains recognizable as a firehouse. Most unmistakable is the original “No. 4” still visible over the front door.

thanks Dan

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Aurora Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

Before next month is over, the Aurora Fire Department plans to have all of its front-line vehicles upgraded to provide basic life support by adding drugs, blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, bandages, oxygen, automatic external defibrillators, and other airway equipment, said Aurora Fire Department spokesman Lt. Jim Rhodes.

EMS Battalion Chief Clete Rettenmeier and Support Paramedic Joe Blesdoe have made it a goal for the department to upgrade all fire apparatus not licensed by the state as an emergency medical service vehicle to provide basic life support, with the intent of reducing the amount of time to get help to patients.

Six engines have been upgraded this year and in June they plan to upgrade the department’s three truck companies. The equipment upgrades cost roughly $1,000 per engine.

The department has six advanced life support (ALS) ambulances plus three ALS engines.

The introduction of engines with the new equipment has already helped reduce response times by almost 17 percent compared to the same period last year which are significant as the department has treated 9.5 percent more patients so far this year.

“The call volume of the fire department has increased significantly over the past several years putting greater stress on department resources,” according to a statement by the fire department.

thanks Dan

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New buggy for CFD 5-1-5

This from the fleet guy

red Ford Explorer for the Chicago FD

Ford Explorer Shop ID B614 for 5-1-5. Fleet Guy photo

Replacing the Ford Expedition

Chicago FD Special Operations Battalion 5-1-5

Dennis McGuire, Jr. photo

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Car into a building, 5-27-16

Chicago firefighters responded to a car into the building at 4243 S. Ashland Avenue 5958 W Eastwood (5/27/16). After removing the car, companies added shoring to stabilize the damaged area.

car crashed into building

Tim Olk photo

Chicago FD Snorkel Squad

Tim Olk photo

fire chief directs firefighters

Tim Olk photo

Chicago FD Squad 2

Tim Olk photo

firefighters work on a hot day

Tim Olk photo

firefighters shore up damaged building

Tim Olk photo

firefighters shore up damaged building

Tim Olk photo

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Illinois State funding for LODDs

Excerpts from

Scholarships for the children of Illinois firefighters and police officers who die in the line of duty would be funded again under legislation that passed in the Illinois Senate on Thursday.

Senate Bill 2051, sponsored by Senator Don Harmon would appropriate $975,000 for college scholarships for children of deceased police officers, firefighters, and correctional officers, as well as $5 million for payment of line-of-duty awards.

The payments have been held up because of the state budget stalemate.

“The least we can do for the survivors of frontline public safety workers who put their lives on the line in service to their communities and to taxpayers is to pay them what we promised to pay them,” Harmon said. “These awards offer some comfort and financial stability to families who face a great deal of uncertainty and hardship when their loved ones die in the line of duty.”

Among those who could benefit because of the legislation is the family of deceased Oak Park firefighter Kenneth K. Harris, 56, a 28-year veteran of the Oak Park Fire Department who died Jan. 11, 2016 of cardiac arrest at his Berwyn home after working a 24-hour shift and an additional six hours of fire prevention work. He is survived by his wife, five children and several grandchildren.

“These scholarships and awards for the survivors are important. When a first responder police officer or firefighter dies in the line of duty, it’s comforting to know that their family is going to be taken care of financially,” said Mike Henkelman, one of Harris’ colleagues at the fire department. “We certainly appreciate Senator Harmon’s efforts with this legislation.”

The Illinois Senate honored Harris this month with memorial resolution, SR 1881, acknowledging his service to the Village of Oak Park and offering condolences to those who knew him.

thanks Dan

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Wheaton Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

Wheaton Fire Chief Bill Schultz estimates his staff only sees one or two cases per year of animals overcome by smoke inhalation, and they are now equipped with six kits designed to help any pet with a snout breathe easier in the case of a fire. Each kit contains three sizes of masks for small, medium and large pets, including dogs, cats, ferrets and gerbils. The masks work just like a human oxygen mask.

Schultz said the department has had animal oxygen masks in the past, but they were outdated and losing quality over time from being mostly unused.

No official statistics on pet casualties are kept by the U.S. Fire Administration, but industry websites and sources estimate between 40,000 to 150,000 pets die in fires each year, mostly due to smoke inhalation.

Invisible Fence DuPage donated six pet oxygen mask kits to the fire department earlier this month, after a Wheaton firefighter with a soft spot for pets made the request.

The business is part of a national company that installs electronic dog fence systems and runs Project Breathe, which has resulted in 13,000 donated pet oxygen kits to fire departments in the U.S. and Canada in the past 10 years. Anyone interested in requesting pet oxygen mask kits for their community can do so at

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Prospect Heights Fire District news

From the

At the Mayor’s Breakfast held Saturday, April 30th, Mayor Helmer presented Chief Gould with the PROSPECT HEIGHTS LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT award for his 49 years of service to the city as a member of the fire department.

Highlights of Chief Gould’s service with the Prospect Heights Fire Protection District include:
• Started in 1967 as volunteer firefighter cadet when in high school
• Attended Oklahoma State University’s School of Fire Protection
• Rose through the ranks as firefighter, lieutenant, captain, and assistant fire chief
• Appointed as the fire chief in 1988
• Hired as first full-time employee of the fire district in 2000
• Hired the first full-time staff in 2001
• Instrumental in starting paramedic service for Prospect Heights in 1985
• Remodeled and expanded the main fire station in 1991
• Opened the east-side fire station in 2006
• Obtained over $1,800,000 in federal and state grants
• Modernized the entire fleet of vehicles to include the purchase and replacement of ambulances and fire trucks
• Has maintained a healthy, financially sound organization with limited debt and a balanced budget for the past 27 years
• Currently maintains 9 firefighters on duty 24/7/365

Congratulations Chief Gould!

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