Archive for July 23rd, 2018

Mattoon Fire District news (more)

Excerpts from

The Mattoon City Council ratified new regulations for private ambulance services and heard several concerns regarding the scheduled July 25 end of the fire department’s ambulance service.

Top fire department officials questioned whether the city is ready to switch over all ambulance calls to private services. Representatives from one of the two current private services, Dunn’s Ambulance, said they will be ready but delays for this switch have made it difficult to hire crews. A representative for a possible third service, Abbott EMS, sought more information about the application process.

The city has revised its regulations in preparation for the July 25 switch. The new regulations include the requirement that ambulances must arrive at the scene of advanced life support calls within eight minutes of being dispatched. Ambulance services must report this data to the city.

Fire Chief Tony Nichols said he is concerned about the city entering uncharted territory if it completely eliminates the fire department’s ambulance service on July 25. He urged the council to keep the department’s advance life support equipment ready as a backup to help handle the call volume.

Assistant Fire Chief Sean Junge said feels that firefighters, as stakeholders in the emergency response system, were given little opportunity to provide input on the new ambulance regulations while private services had a lot of input. Junge said he cannot recommend approval for the new regulations due to his concerns about this document.

The council voted on July 18, 2017 to eliminate the fire department’s ambulance service. City officials have said that this service loses money and duplicates the work of private providers. Mattoon Firefighters Local 691 has countered that the department’s service generates needed revenue for the city and provides essential ambulance coverage for Mattoon.

Casey Schmitz, operations manager for Dunn’s, said the city has asked private services to be ready to handle all of the ambulance calls, but uncertainty about when this change will take place has made it difficult to hire crews. Nevertheless, she said both Dunn’s and Mitchell-Jerdan Ambulance Service plan to have additional crew members and ambulances in place to continue serving the community.”We are not going to leave anybody high and dry,” Schmitz said. She added that Dunn’s welcomes partnering with firefighter crews that have basic and advanced life support equipment. She said this backup service was standard practice before the fire department’s started its own ambulance service several years ago.

Brian Gerth, operations manager for Abbott EMS, asked several questions about how the Coles County 911 system rotates calls to the different ambulance services and about the application process to become a provider under the city’s new regulations. City officials advised that applicants do not need to have an office in Mattoon when they apply but will need to have one before they operate ambulances in Mattoon.

Bart Owen, president of the firefighters union, urged the city to keep the fire department’s advanced life support capabilities in place as a backup. He also questioned whether the city has a plan in place for backup service and how it will have time to process ambulance service applications from current and possible new providers before July 25.

The city and the firefighters union are continuing to try to negotiate a new contract, and they met with a mediator on Tuesday. The current contract expired on April 30 but remains in effect until a new one is reached. Staffing levels have been a contentious issue in the contract negotiations due to the possibility of the number of firefighters being cut further due to the ambulance service elimination.

Owen said there are now eight legal proceedings regarding various related grievances and court filings that will need some type of resolution before the arbitration process can be completed. He said the union has offered to make concessions, including cuts of three staff members and other measures that would save $663,000 per year.

thanks Dennis

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5-Alarm fire with 2 Specials and a 2-Alarm EMS Box in Prospect Heights, 7-18-18 (more)

Larry Shapiro video (part 1)

More photos from the 5-Alarm fire with 2 Specials and a 2-Alarm EMS Box in Prospect Heights, 7-18-18 

Tim Olk photo

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Massive fire destroys 3 apartment buildings on McIntosh Court in Prospect Heights, IL 7/18/18. Tim Olk photo

Excerpts from the

When firefighters responded to a fire at one of the 16 buildings that make up the River Trails Condominium complex in Prospect Heights Wednesday afternoon, they knew the blaze could quickly get out of hand.

Investigators said a juvenile accidentally ignited the blaze. No charges have been filed. The blaze started in a second-floor unit in the southernmost building on McIntosh Court and rapidly spread upward and outward. Once it reached the attic, the blaze had unfettered access to the other three buildings. The mansard-style roof that hangs over the third floor also allowed the fire to glide effortlessly along the structure’s side as the flames fed on air inside the enclosed eaves. A mild breeze then helped stoke the flames.

Firefighters made every attempt to stop or slow the spread of flames, but they were thwarted by the fire’s ability to keep moving until it got to the northernmost building. There, they made a successful stand against the encroaching flames.

“We tried to cut in several spots before that to try and stop it,” Prospect Heights Fire District Chief Drew Smith said. “It was a futile effort. If this would have happened at 1 a.m. instead of 1 p.m. like it did, I don’t know how this would have turned out.”

Fire safety officials blame the speed and scope on a lack of modern fire safety devices and construction. The 46-year-old complex had no building-wide fire alarms, sprinkler systems, fire walls or attic separators — all fire safety features that experts say would have stopped or significantly slowed the inferno.

New apartments are required to have sprinkler systems, firewalls to keep fires from spreading to other units, and attic separators that restrict overhead air flow in the building to lower the risk of fires spreading. None of the buildings that burned Wednesday had those, and none had building-wide fire alarms. Because of their age, the Prospect Heights buildings were not required to have those fire safety measures in place.

And under current city code, if the apartments are rebuilt, they still might not have them. If more than 50 percent of the buildings that burned are salvageable, the city can’t force the owners to retrofit the buildings to comply with modern fire codes.

Prospect Heights Fire District Chief Drew Smith warns against rebuilding the apartments as if nothing happened. “We are going to meet with the city and try to put forth a strategy for what comes next,” he said. “We need them to have a fire alarm in these buildings, at the very least.”

On Christmas Eve morning 2006, a blaze caused by Christmas lights in a second-floor unit had the entire third floor engulfed in 10 minutes. That fire also spread to a neighboring building, though firefighters were able to quickly extinguish it. In the end, only 30 percent of the building was destroyed and it was reconstructed without a sprinkler system or other modern fire suppression measures.

Estimates indicate retrofitting existing buildings with sprinklers costs between $2 and $7 per square foot, according to the National Fire Protection Association. The 16 buildings at River Trails contain roughly 380,000 square feet of living space, putting the estimated cost at somewhere between $760,000 and $2.7 million. That the cost would require a special assessment that would possibly be passed on to renters, who might then be priced out of their homes. Most of the River Trails units are individually owned and rented out to others.

Several towns require sprinklers in new construction of single-family homes.

thanks Dan

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Sycamore Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

According to the annual report presented during a Sycamore City Council meeting, the fire department took 2,281 calls during fiscal 2018, 93 more than in 2017.

Sycamore Fire Chief Pete Polarek said there has been an upward trend in calls overall since fiscal 2010, but he said there isn’t a clear cause for the increase. He said an increase in city residents, an increase in vehicle traffic, or an increase in visitors could have contributed.

The fire department has been addressing concerns of firefighters having a higher risk of cancer because of chemical exposure on calls. He said the department is making sure firefighters limit their exposure to those hazards, including having them wash their equipment, launder their clothes and shower after calls.

There has been a notable increase in the number of patient lift-assist calls in the past couple of years, including calls coming from alarm systems such as LifeAlert. There were 178 of those during fiscal 2018, compared with 164 the year before, and 132 in fiscal 2016. This is the fourth year the department has been collecting patient lift-assist data with the older population living at home longer and living unassisted. He said this wasn’t much of a factor in the past because most people have called family or friends for that kind of help.

Now, there are a lot of older people who don’t have that kind of extended support system and the fire department is starting to see those kinds of calls more often.

Polarek said his department is still able to address the increase in those calls with the staffing that they have, but staff will have to keep an eye on that statistic going forward

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New fire station for Elk Grove FD

From a reader:

Drove past Elk Grove Village Station 10 today and here’s the construction progress.

Elk Grove Village Fire Station 10

Elk Grove Village Fire Station 10

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