Archive for May 8th, 2020

Chicago Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from

The U.S Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes a $1,291,621 civil penalty against the City of Chicago Department of Aviation for allegedly violating aircraft rescue and firefighting regulations.

The FAA alleges that between April and August 2019, three firefighters at Chicago O’Hare International Airport were assigned to a High Reach Extendable Turret vehicle for a total of 18 shifts when they had not completed required training on operating the turret. One of the firefighters, a lieutenant, falsified 13 training-log entries to make it appear he had completed the training, the FAA alleges.

Additionally, a captain at Chicago Midway International Airport was assigned to a vehicle for two shifts when she had not completed required recurrent training, the FAA alleges. That firefighter also accessed the airfield during nine shifts when she was not properly badged or under proper escort.

The FAA also alleges the City of Chicago Department of Aviation failed to ensure that the Fire Department maintained required training records.

The Department has 30 days after receiving the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.

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McHenry Township Fire Protection District news

Excerpts from the

Firefighters were called to the 300 block of North Boulevard in Lakemoor just before 7 p.m. Thursday for a structure fire at a ranch-style home, where smoke and fire was seen coming from the rear of the building. Within 15 minutes of the McHenry Township FPD’s response, the blaze was under control after an aggressive fire attack. No one was injured in the fire that led to $100,000 in damages and left the house uninhabitable.

After an investigation, fire personnel determined the cause was the homeowner’s debris fire in a nearby fire pit, which had spread to the home.

The Nunda Rural Fire District, Wauconda Fire District, and the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department also responded to the scene.

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Woodstock Fire/Rescue District news

Excerpts from the

At the end of the 2020-21 fiscal year next spring, the budget for the Woodstock Fire/Rescue District projects a surplus of $455,000. And with any luck, the $600,000 line-of-credit loan the WFRD Board of Trustees approved this spring will be the last time the district has to borrow money to meet the payroll. For that, the district can thank voters who last year passed a referendum, with nearly 65 percent approval, to increase the WFRD tax rate by 20 percent.

The increase means that the 2020 property tax bill will increase by about $150 a year for the owner of a home with a market value of $250,000. With an extra $1.3 million a year coming in from the tax increase, the district has plans to add personnel and upgrade equipment. Although the tax increase was approved 13 months ago, it won’t be until later this month or early June that the district sees any new money.

A four-year strategic plan was adopted by the board in August for upgrading personnel, equipment, and buildings for the district, which covers 90 square miles around Woodstock. Among the personnel moves planned is the hiring of a deputy chief, which is a position that was eliminated years ago to save money as district finances got tight. 

Trustees are scheduled to have a public hearing on the 2020-21 budget at their meeting May 28. It’s likely they will adopt the budget then. The proposal anticipates $9.7 million in revenue, 80 percent of it from property taxes. The budget includes $9.3 million in expenses, but would appropriate $11.2 million, giving the district some room in case additional income is received from grants or other sources.

This past fiscal year, grant money included $87,000 from the state for a new station alerting system. A $130,000 federal grant in 2018 equipped each of the district’s three ambulances with a power cot and load system.

Capital expenses in the new budget plan include $300,000 for a new ambulance, but no decision will be made until later when officials are convinced the budget is under control.

Among new expenses in the budget will be pay increases for about three dozen firefighter/paramedics, who agreed in 2018 to forgo 2.5 percent raises for the first two years of a new three-year contract. Although they will not receive back pay for the two years of raises they agreed to waive, they will get an increase of more than 8 percent, which will place them at the pay level required in the third year of the contract.

Coronavirus concerns have been costly for the district, and as a result, the district suspended the 2018 collective bargaining agreement, which included cancellation of time off for all personnel which has cost the district about $45,000 in overtime so far. The firefighters union agreed to the move at the time because it was unknown what the effect of COVID-19 would be. They have asked that the contract be re-instated now that the worst fears have not be realized, but the board declined, promising an ongoing review of the situation and an easing back into full terms of the agreement as circumstances allow.

One recent casualty of the situation is the suspension of having fire trucks visit the homes of children whose birthday parties were canceled because of the pandemic. While it was good public relations, it was beginning to interfere with the district’s operational readiness with  five or six trips a day


Vintage 5-11 alarm fire at Mercy Hospital in Chicago, 1963 (more)

More clippings from Steve Redick about the 5-11 alarm fire at Mercy Hospital in Chicago in 1963 

vintage clipping from Chicago's American in 1963 of a 5-11 Alarm fire at Mercy Hospital in Chicago

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vintage clipping from Chicago's American in 1963 of a 5-11 Alarm fire at Mercy Hospital in Chicago

click to download

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