Archive for category Commentary

Countryside Fire Protection District news

Excerpts of a commentary found at

The Countryside Fire Prevention District has supported fire and life safety education since its 1959 inception. Its mission has helped instill this practice: “The district dedicates its activities to the preservation of human life and the conservation of property. To this end the district invests its personnel in the education of its public and the maintenance of a safe environment.”

To pursue that mission, Fire Chief Jeff Steingart created a full-time public education coordinator position with the fire prevention bureau in 2007. Hired by the district in 2000 as a firefighter/paramedic, Tony Rodkey filled the position and eventually increased staffing in the bureau. Among its accomplishments, Countryside has assisted many state-level activities which include teaching and hosting a public fire and life safety instructor course. At a time when departments were cutting prevention and inspection programs, Rodkey bolstered staffing. He believes emergency response should not be the first line of defense though it is the only option after prevention and education fail. Reducing risk via education to the community is paramount in saving lives and protecting property. Home fire sprinklers are an important part of this model.

Countryside has made it a point to bolster education on this technology. The district has had a long campaign in the villages and unincorporated areas to adopt residential fire sprinkler ordinances in all buildings, specifically new homes, townhouses, and condominiums. The district passed a residential sprinkler requirement in 2004. To help promote this technology, Countryside has showcased fire sprinkler demonstrations and fire behavior lessons to five middle schools for the last 10 years. To date, 11,000 students have received fire safety education as part of their science curriculum since the creation of the public education coordinator.

Tony Rodkey plans to complement these teachings by visiting each of the five schools this September and showcasing a fire sprinkler trailer. This mobile tool provides information on fire sprinklers, the fire triangle, fire behavior, and smoke alarms. By bringing the concept of fire sprinklers to school-aged children, the fire service is able to demystify this technology at an early age while promoting its importance.

thanks Dan

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Chicago Fire Department news

Excerpts from a letter to the editor of the Chicago Tribune:

With the ringing in of another new year usually comes a fuzzy feeling of renewed hope. For some 30,000 retired City of Chicago workers, however, the arrival of Jan. 1 brought with it the stark reality that they no longer have the health care coverage that they were promised when they were hired decades ago. It is truly a sad time in the history of this great city.

The retired firefighters and paramedics we represent risked their lives each day throughout their careers to protect Chicago’s citizens. Many suffered severe and debilitating injuries and illnesses directly linked to their public service. Now, in their time of need, the city has chosen let them become someone else’s responsibility.

A previous court settlement had split the cost of a retiree’s health care coverage three ways; the retiree, the retiree’s pension fund and the City of Chicago would all contribute to pay premiums. Sounds fair, doesn’t it? But Mayor Rahm Emanuel had other ideas. Even though this plan of “shared sacrifice” was in practice for decades, the city decided it wanted to “get out of the retiree health care business” altogether. These elders have now been left to fend for themselves. Many of these affected, including widows in their 80s and some in their 90s, are already living near the poverty level. Some no longer have the mental capacity to understand what is happening to them. Others are being forced to consider going back to work. Realistically, who will want to hire them? In others words, Chicago helped balance its budget by kicking former public servants to the curb. Nice.

Chicago calls itself a sanctuary city; a place where people can come to feel safe and secure. I guess that’s true just as long as you’re not one of these unfortunate former employees.

Tom Ryan, president
Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2

thanks Dan

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Aurora Fire Department news

Excerpts from a commentary at the

Aurora Firefighters Local 99 have formally endorsed Linda Chapa LaVia’s campaign for Mayor of Aurora, IL and joins a growing list of elected officials and organizations supporting Chapa LaVia’s campaign, which include: U.S. Senator-Elect Tammy Duckworth, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs, Illinois Comptroller Susanna Mendoza, Former Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes, Congresswoman Robin Kelly, State Senator Linda Holmes, the North Central Illinois Labor Council, the Illinois AFL-CIO, Vote Vets PAC, the Painters District Council 30, Bricklayers Administrative District Council #1, National Association Letter Carriers Branch #219, AFT Local 604, Sheet Metal Workers Locals 265 & 73, Automobile Mechanics Local 701, Laborers Local 582, the Illinois Police Benevolent and Protective Association, Operating Engineers Local 399, Operating Engineers Local 150, Plumbers Local 130, SMART Local 171-T, United Auto Workers (UAW) Fox River Valley PAC, Teamsters Local 179, and the National Hispanic Labor Council.

Chapa LaVia is a lifelong resident of Aurora, a veteran of the U.S. Army and was first elected to the Illinois House in 2002. While serving in the House she has been a leader on education issues, has stood up for veterans, and has delivered millions of dollars to Aurora helping to improve the quality of life for its residents.

thanks Dan

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Tri-State Fire Protection District news

Excerpts from the

Former Tri-State Fire Trustee Micheal Orrico Charged With Crime 

Justice is slow in Illinois, but at least there does appear to be hope when it comes to holding public officials accountable, and this is a perfect example of how we can make a difference.

In August of 2015,  this article, clearly pointed out what we believed was a violation of the law by then Tri-State Fire Protection District Trustee Micheal Orrico.  Specifically, I reported Mr. Michael Orrico sells fire equipment for Fire Service, Inc.  What did he say about his employment in his Economic Disclosure Statement for his trustee position (page 55 of the pdf)? Not a word:”

What did we say was the consequence for nondisclosure?

(5 ILCS 420/4A-107) Any person required to file a statement of economic interests under this Article who willfully files a false or incomplete statement shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

We are proud to see that the Darien Police Department investigated this alleged crime and found the same thing that we reported!

September 13, 2016, an arrest warrant was issued for Micheal Orrico

The charge:  Filing a False Statement of Economic Interest in violation of the following Illinois Compiled Statute 5 ILCS 420/4A-107

It’s encouraging to see enforcement of our laws against those alleged to have violated them.  Public officials statewide should pay attention to this matter as we believe this is the FIRST time we have seen this particular law enforced and will hopefully be the beginning of holding violators accountable.

thanks Dan & Scott

The documents can be viewed HERE

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An editorial on EMS and active shooter incidents

Excerpts from the

I followed news of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting with one thing on my mind: Where was EMS? As Omar Mateen’s three-hour assault played out, we now know, the 80 medics on the scene were kept more than 100 yards from the club, outside the hot zone. Many of the injured were transported to hospitals in pickup trucks.

The same was true during the Columbine school shooting in Littleton, Colo., in 1999, when crews waited outside nearly an hour for a SWAT team as a teacher lay dying. Medics were also kept from entering the Aurora, Colo., movie theater where 12 people were killed in 2012. Cops took many of the victims to hospitals in their squad cars.

After these tragedies, grieving friends and family have pressed officials for answers — why were the lifesavers kept from the victims?

I understand that frustration. I was a paramedic for nearly 10 years. In that time, my job certainly put me in danger’s way; like many of my co-workers, I believed that saving a patient’s life was worth losing my own. But because EMS departments (rightly) prioritize the safety of their crews, we were encouraged to stay on the periphery of crime scenes.

This approach is outdated. Paramedics must be trained to respond in dangerous environments, and they should be given the tools they need to stay safe. With the uptick in mass shootings across the country, we can’t afford to keep them on the sidelines.

Early in my training, my instructor presented my class with a seemingly simple scenario: man down in the street. But after my partner and I rushed to his side and began rendering care, our teacher yelled that we were both dead. By not confirming that the scene was safe, we’d stepped on the same downed power line that had electrocuted our patient. Now there were three people dying in the street.

The point of that exercise was to drill into our heads that if we don’t protect ourselves, we can’t save anyone else. Our instructors told us that we’re sent into very dangerous situations not to impose order but to save lives.

Yet once I got into the field, I realized how tough it is to follow this advice. Often, a scene considered safe at the time of dispatch quickly and unexpectedly spirals into chaos; just because nobody had pulled a weapon when 911 was called doesn’t mean that won’t happen when we show up.

Which is why it’s time for [EMS personnel] to adopt a new model, one that acknowledges the reality of the job.

Some places are already heeding this call. Departments such as Dallas Fire-Rescue and Pennsylvania’s West End Ambulance Service have ordered bulletproof vests and helmets for paramedics. In states including Michigan, Virginia, and New York, EMS departments are teaching paramedics how to enter violent scenes long before they’re deemed safe in order to speed up treatment and save more lives. In this rescue task force training, endorsed by FEMA, paramedics learn the language and choreography of armed entry.

They learn how to team up with armor-clad cops to enter buildings where active shooters are on the loose. They learn how to identify warm zones — relatively safe areas at a shooting scene where patients can be collected, treated and readied for transport. Rather than diagnosing and treating patients where they’re found, the rescue task force model focuses on rapid triage, stabilizing life-threatening injuries, and getting patients off the scene as quickly as possible. “We have to get in there to stop the dying,” E. Reed Smith, medical director of the Arlington County Fire Department in Virginia, told the Los Angeles Times. “As long as we’re standing outside, we have not stopped the dying.”

The rise in active-shooter situations makes this training all the more important for cops and paramedics. Between 2000 and 2006, there were an average of 6.4 active-shooter incidents a year; that jumped to 16.4 between 2007 and 2013.

In many cases, people died while waiting for help that was just outside the door. Patients treated within 60 minutes of an injury have the best chance of survival. The majority of gunshot victims who receive care within five minutes survive. After the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association attributed the miraculous survival rate — 261 of the 264 casualties — to the fact that EMS units were already on the scene when the bombs detonated and went to work immediately.

It’s good that EMS is shifting to meet the demands of a new, more dangerous world. But as we make this transition, we need to stay focused on our core goal — patient care. Paramedics cannot be cops, and they shouldn’t try to be. Even as we enter crime scenes faster, our goal cannot be helping only the good guys, or working with police to catch criminals.

Imagine if paramedics had entered the Pulse nightclub and started treating patients immediately. Imagine medics in flak jackets and helmets, surrounded by police assault rifles, setting about the critical work of saving lives right there on the dance floor. Would more people have survived if EMS had been able to treat patients sooner? The answer is almost certainly yes.

Another active-shooter incident is all but certain. Maybe next time, the paramedics will be right there, in harm’s way, saving lives. That’s as it should be.

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What is a first responder …

Isn’t it about time to educate the public and the media about … a commentary that is near and dear to the admin

Excerpts from

The term first responder was born out the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It was coined for very good reasons.

First, it was hard to be all-inclusive when reporting on the hundreds of firefighters, paramedics, and police officers who died in the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings. While we remember the over 3,000 who died that day, we also have to remember that the safe evacuation of over 20,000 workers in the World Trade Center was by far the largest successful rescue operation ever undertaken by the fire service.

It was also hard to express the diversity in the rank structure of those killed — literally from a deputy fire commissioner and the chief of the department down to probationary firefighters, with no rank left unscathed. There were also police officers killed from multiple agencies: the NYPD, the Port Authority, and the Transit Police all suffered losses.

Finally, it was also difficult to try to remember, let alone name, all the local, state, and federal agencies that came to assist in New York, at the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pa.

Hence the first responder was used as a badge of honor for all of those who slugged it out under extremely difficult conditions to rescue, treat the injured, and to recover those murdered on that day.

My objection to the continued use of first responder comes from my belief that it has been hijacked by some and grossly misused by others. The most glaring of this misuse comes from the media and from some public officials.

On the media
Many who work the media were in elementary school when the attacks of 9/11 occurred. Too young to really comprehend what happened that day, their recollection is mostly what they have seen from the collection of videos and photos that are archived where the term first responder is used.

Many of those reporters are now employed in small- to medium-media markets, and their goal is often to use their current position as a stepping stone to a much larger media market. So they fail to take the time to learn the diverse responsibilities of their local fire, EMS, or law enforcement at scene of an emergency.

Hence they use the all-encompassing first responder term as a catch all.

Also, the combination of two recessions since 9/11 and the disruptive force the internet had on the publishing industry’s business model left many newsrooms woefully understaffed. And those fewer reporters and editors were and are working against a growing demand for 24-hour news.

But a bit more ominous are those reporters who use the term as a cover for their reporting certain items as fact when they haven’t been verified either in writing or by two independent sources.

Use of first responder also covers their virtual lack of understanding of which agency was in charge or would have the responsibility for mitigation of the incident.

Agency having responsibility
Some local, state, and even worse, federal officials, are equally clueless in their understanding as to who is in charge and who is assuming a support role at critical incidents.

Look at the press conference held after the next big emergency and see who is there standing behind the speaker or who is identified as part of the response team. Is the fire chief among them? Is he or she dressed so to be singled out as the fire chief — in turnout gear or an appropriate uniform designating their authority?

Chances are the mayor, governor, or federal bureaucrat will also use first responders in their comments because they weren’t there in the early hours of the incident and neither realize, nor in some cases care, who did what to mitigate the pain and suffering.

For example, they missed seeing the firefighter/paramedics who slogged it out in the trenches — extricating then triaging and treating victims, before transporting them to an appropriate medical facility while using a mass-casualty protocol that keeps track of the injured or dead and where they can be found.

And too often they also don’t realize the roles of our co-workers in law enforcement are to first secure the perimeter, keeping out unauthorized people, and then begin their criminal investigation after the victims have been handled.

First responder blurs the line in these responses and has almost taken on an air of political correctness that discredits both of our noble professions.

Facts be damned 
Most recently, however, I’m really annoyed at the Hollywood-style recruitment advertising used by the National Guard. Don’t get me wrong, the Guard has a strong supporting role in natural disasters, civil emergencies, and when federalized, our military.

But they are not firefighters or police officers.

The ad that specifically annoys me is where a new guardsman talks about going to her first call-out as a member of the Guard. The ad focuses on a forest fire while the guardsmen don regular firefighting turnout gear and ride up to fire lines inside a 2½-ton military transport truck.

Now let’s stop a second at what this ad is inferring.

First, they are incorrectly using structural firefighting gear, giving the impression they have the same training as most of us. Second, they imply anyone can fight a forest fire.

And third, they mention nothing about the hours of advanced training that a forestry firefighter must take, including an annual recertification, to maintain their Red Card. And that just gets someone to a base camp, let alone to the fire line.

Corrective action
The fact is this ad is a blatant distortion that anyone, including the National Guard, is a first responder. The ad screams how badly the term first responder has been corrupted.

What’s the solution?

It’s time that both the fire service and law enforcement politely remind our civilians, media representatives, and public officials that we are the thin blue line that separates order from chaos on a day-to-day basis.

We need to remind them that we both have different roles but are part of the same team that protects our community from mayhem — and that while separate and distinct, virtually one cannot exist without the other.

Next time someone uses the cavalier term first responder to describe what you do, kindly but firmly ask them to nix that term and remind them who does what on the incident scene and how they should take the time to learn what it takes to fill your shoes.

thanks Drew

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A letter about the Naperville Fire Department … with praise

Excerpts from the

My deepest thanks to Naperville Fire Department Engine 3, paramedics and Naperville police for keeping me from dying Wednesday. Here’s what happened:

I had opened a fresh jug of ammonia for the mop bucket so I could clean the basement floor before carpet-laying. But my work shoes grabbed the tiles and the ammonia went flying. A half gallon poured out, creating a causic fog so dense I could barely see. I staggered for the stairs and pulled myself up by the railings. I gasped one breath and it burned. Finally I reached the top, slammed the door shut and called 911.

As directed, I staggered outside to wait in fresh air. My legs were so rubbery I had to sit on the concrete porch. A few minutes later, the boys of Engine 3 appeared. They checked me immediately.

In the ER, my blood oxygen had dropped to 90 percent from its normal 99, but the doctor assured it would come back. It did. After an hour I was released, feeling fine. I decided to walk the 2.5 miles home. The fresh air did me good. On the way, I pondered just how I was going to manage to clean up that giant mess all by myself.

That’s the first part of why I’m writing this note of thanks. When I arrived, I found the door locked, as the lieutenant promised when I left. But I found more. My floor mop was rinsed and on the front porch. My mop bucket was rinsed and inside the garage. I walked into the house, and anything they’d disturbed getting in and out of the basement was neatly put back.

I cautiously sniffed around – not a single molecule of ammonia scent. I went down the stairs … and to my amazement, they’d cleaned up the entire mess, every single drop, and the floor was bone dry. That is the very definition of absolute professionalism.

Here’s the second part of why I’m writing this note of thanks. Wednesday evening, the door bell rang. I answered. The crew of Engine 3 was on my porch. Astonished, I asked them inside. They said no thanks, they just decided to stop by and see how I was doing.

The lieutenant, first on the scene that morning, said he and his crew went through a tank and a half of full-respirator air each cleaning up the spill because it was so vicious. They believed the undiluted ammonia reacted badly with the 1965-era linoleum tiles, or with the glue holding them to the floor, to create the caustic fog I saw because plain hardware store ammonia isn’t normally that reactive.

I thanked them profusely for staying around to clean up my mess. They waved off the thanks, shook my hand, said they were glad I was OK. “This sure was one of the more interesting calls we’ve gotten in a while,” the lieutenant said.

Bless all firefighters, paramedics and police officers everywhere. But particularly bless … the boys of Engine 3.

thanks Dan

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Unpublished letter to the Chicago Tribune – response to an editorial

Excerpts from

Firefighters Respond to Tribune Editorial

When the Chicago Tribune printed another one of its ferociously anti-union editorials on April 8, 2016, it decided to target the fire fighters union (rather than its usual target—AFSCME!). Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois President Pat Devaney responded to the editorial’s many misstatements but the Tribune never printed his response. We reprint it here as a powerful reminder of why collective bargaining rights are important to every employee.

Is Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner anti-union or pro-taxpayer? 

Unpublished letter to the Chicago Tribune from Pat Devaney, President of the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois
Efforts to strip working men and women of collective bargaining rights for living wages are usually highlighted by cherry-picked anecdotes to cloud the truth.

Such was your recent editorial about Governor Rauner’s crusade to destroy organized labor’s rights to collective bargaining. (April 8: Is Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner anti-union or pro-taxpayer?)

Your editorial specifically advocates the elimination of firefighter staffing standards that have been in effect in Illinois since 1986. Staffing levels, according to standards established by the National Fire Protection Association and National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety, are critical to public safety.

What your editorial conveniently ignores is that Illinois firefighters in 1986 agreed to forfeit their right to strike in exchange for the law that requires municipalities to negotiate safe staffing levels for fire departments. Your editorial intimated current law was some sort of gift from Springfield when, in fact, it is a law that guarantees citizens the protection they need in times of emergency response.

Today’s anti-worker sentiment emphasizes money over public safety. Unfortunately, it’s the same sort of argument that Michigan politicians used to destroy its public water system in Flint. Fact is, there are more important matters than money.

Your editorial highlighted a 2009 incident involving the death of a Rockford man at the hands of a police officer. According to your reasoning, this is the poster child for the abolishment of arbitration in police and fire disciplinary cases.

You then transition into your crusade against firefighting staffing laws. So let’s use your method to highlight a specific reason that firefighters negotiate safe staffing levels.

On March 28, 2010 Homewood firefighter Brian Carey died in a fire rescue attempt of an elderly resident, who also perished. Carey was first on the scene of a roaring house fire and attempted to rescue an elderly man trapped inside. Although woefully short­staffed, he entered the structure without hesitation.

After an exhaustive investigation into the fatalities, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health blamed under-staffing during the fire response as a factor in Mr. Carey’s death.

Professional first responders firefighters and paramedics rely on industry standards and statistics to determine how best to protect the citizens we serve. And staff levels are critical to public safety, not to mention the safety of firefighters who risk their own welfare in emergencies.

The Tribune performs a serious disservice to its readers when you hide the purpose behind public safety laws. There’s more to public service than money. You are entitled to your opinion about the appropriate function and operation of government.

But don’t ignore the public’s sacred right to safety when you advocate for the Governor’s misguided proposals.
Thank you,

Pat Devaney, President
Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois

thanks Dan

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