Archive for category Fire Service News

Of interest … Mansard Roof Design Vulnerabilities

Excerpts from the

Prospect Heights Fire Chief Drew Smith recalls that the apartment fire Monday night which displaced about 100 residents in Mount Prospect featured an almost identical layout to a 2018 fire in Prospect Heights. That fire, at the River Trails Condominium complex, destroyed 24 units and damaged 72 others, leaving dozens of residents without homes.

What linked those fires, and several other large apartment blazes in the suburbs since 2018, were the mansard-style roofs, which were popular with builders in the 1960s and ’70s because they allow for additional living space on a building’s top floor. But they present a challenge to firefighters by shielding flames from water as a fire spreads.

“Unfortunately, the reality is that until the fire burns through the roof, the water can’t get on the fire. By that time, it’s just too late,” Smith said.

Similar fires ravaged the Windhaven condominiums in Palatine in 2023, leaving 22 units uninhabitable; the Puente Del Pueblo apartments in West Chicago, also last year, displacing about 100 residents; and the Bristol Court condominium complex in Park Ridge in 2022, injuring five residents and leaving an entire 36-unit building uninhabitable.

Last week’s fire at the Orion Parkview Apartments in Mount Prospect started in the cockloft of the 36-unit building. The intense heat prevented firefighters from battling the blaze offensively from the structure’s interior, forcing them instead to transition to a defensive attack from the outside.

Unlike the common areas beneath it, the attic did not have sprinklers, and the mansard roof prevented water from reaching the flames as they spread.

Named after 17th century French architect Francois Mansart, the mansard roof first was popularized in the design of French homes. It is characterized by its distinctive sloping roofs, which are clad with various types of roofing shingles and pierced by recessed window openings. They fell out of style among U.S. builders after the 1970s, but many buildings with mansard roofs remain in the suburbs.

Smith wrote a report on a 2006 fire at River Trails, the same complex damaged in 2018, for Fire Engineering. It describes how fire and smoke can spread within the roof.

“During overhaul and the investigation, you could look into the mansard from the third floor inside corner apartment and see it run the length of the building without a fire stop”, he wrote.

The best solution is sprinklers, but it’s difficult and costly to install them in attics after construction is complete.

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Fire service news

Excerpts from

Today, the U.S. Senate passed S.870, the Fire Grants and Safety Act of 2023, sending it to President Biden to be signed into law.

S.870 incorporates language from H.R. 4090, the Fire Grants and Safety Act of 2023, introduced by Science Committee member Tom Kean (R-NJ). The bill will support and advance firefighter and emergency services across the nation, providing a five-year reauthorization for the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) Program, and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant (SAFER) Program.

The full text of S. 870 can be found here.

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Of interest … Chicago Strong: The Real Women of Chicago Fire

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Retired Chicago Firefighter Cat Renar has spent the past eight years compiling “Chicago Strong: The Real Women of Chicago Fire,” a coffee table book that highlights the contributions and experiences of female firefighters and medics.

Renar served with the CFD for 20 years. “I was actually cross-trained as a firefighter/medic. I left — retired from the job as an engineer, as a driver.”

Her career took her across Chicago, starting on the West Side before moving to the South Side, and the North Side, eventually concluding near downtown at Engine 14.

“I started shooting portraits of women I admire and then an opportunity arose to do a calendar,” Renar explained. The project soon evolved into a coffee table book, funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised the necessary funds in just two days.

Priced at $65, “Chicago Strong” features graphic design and photography primarily by Renar, with technical support from her husband, also a photographer.

“Coordinating our schedules was the hardest part of the whole book,” Renar noted. She aimed to balance representation between EMS and fire, capturing a cross-section of veteran trailblazers and newer voices within the department.

The book’s launch and first signing event drew a significant turnout.

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Boone County Fire Protection District #2 in the news

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From May 19th to May 25th in 2024, National EMS Week is celebrated to honor EMTs and paramedics who respond to emergencies and perform life saving measure to members of the community. This is the 50th year that the U.S. is recognizing EMS Week. 

Boone County Dist. #2 officially launched their ambulance service in August of 2023 after a referendum tax was passed, allowing them to bring on two ambulance units. To service their ambulances, they expanded and remodeled the EMS side of their building. 

Right now, the department is staffed with 12 firefighters who are also cross trained to provide emergency medical services.  

Along with the calls that are difficult, there are rewarding calls as well. They had three full CPR saves since August 2023. 

Boone County Fire Protection District #2 is ready to continue to serve the community with their new ambulance service, along with potentially expanding their fleet in the near future. 

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New dive van for the Lemont Fire Protection District

This from Bill Schreiber:

The Lemont Fire Protection District recently ordered this Rosenbauer Group dive rescue! Lemont is located about 40 minutes southwest of downtown Chicago. This will be their FOURTH Rosenbauer! Thank you to Fire Chief Dan Tasso and the Lemont Fire Protection District for choosing Sentinel Emergency Solutions and Rosenbauer!
Features include:
FX 3/16″ Aluminum Body
Freightliner M2 106 chassis
Xantrex Freedom 3000W inverter
Walk-in dive rescue unit; #rosenbaueramerica; 3LemontFPD; #Freightliner; #LemontFPD; #drawing;

click to download

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Fire Service News … hydroxocobalamin

Excerpts from

Officials credited a smoke inhalation drug for likely saving the life of a New York City firefighter who fell unconscious and stopped breathing while battling a house fire Friday. He was one of three firefighters injured at the scene in the Bronx. All are expected to recover.

The firefighter was inside the house operating a hose when he began having problems breathing and collapsed. He was pulled from the building by other firefighters who started CPR. EMS personnel also gave the firefighter the hydroxocobalamin, which combats the effects of cyanide poisoning that can result from smoke inhalation. Officials believe the drug saved the firefighter’s life. He and another firefighter were in stable condition at a hospital, while the third firefighter was released from a hospital.

Hydroxocobalamin was first approved for treating smoke inhalation in 2006 by the Food and Drug Administration. It is a manufactured, injectable version of vitamin B12, according to federal health agencies.

France began using the drug to treat smoke inhalation in the mid-1990s.

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Cancer in the Fire Service – PFAS-free gear

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If you look through the aisles of the Fire Expo Show (in Harrisburg, PA), there are vehicles, equipment, and tools — including gear that does not contain “forever chemicals” that have been linked to cancer and other health problems.

Turnout gear with PFAS was among the items featured, reflecting a shift among some fire companies and departments to begin examining the of use of such equipment. Some studies have shown that forever chemicals are linked to a number of health problems and cancer and are found in widely used fire gear.

San Francisco is eyeing a ban on PFAS in firefighting gear, and some believe federal, state, or local entities may move to similar moves. The chemicals have been removed from many products, though widely used gear in the U.S. is still layered with them.

However, some worry mandates could negatively impact small and volunteer departments due to the high cost.

thanks Martin

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Fundraiser for Tim Olk (more); #benefit; #fundraiser; #TimOlk;

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Tim Olk Cancer Benefit

Starting at $35.00
Beer, Buffet & Entertainment 5/19

More Brewing in Huntley is hosting a benefit event for a local firefighter battling cancer. Proceeds from the ticket sales go directly to Tim Olk and his family. There will be live music, buffet style food, bags, and pinball. Our Huntley facility will be closed to the public during this event.

Premium Tickets include (2) 12oz beers and buffet style food.

GA tickets include buffet style food.

Event is Sunday May 19 and runs from 11am – 5pm.

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Fire service news …lithium-ion battery regulation

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FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh is celebrating the successful Congressional passage of lithium-ion battery regulation, achieved through collaborative advocacy efforts with local, state, and federal partners.

“This bill is the first step in what must be a long-term, nationwide conversation,” Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said. “Technologies like these are evolving rapidly, and public safety agencies must be part of those conversations. We need to work together, share information and ideas.”

H.R. 1797, also known as the “Setting Consumer Standards for Lithium-Ion Batteries Act,” would require the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to issue a consumer product safety standard for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used commonly in micro mobility devices, including e-bikes and e-scooters, to protect against fire risk.

Fire Commissioner Kavanagh has traveled to Washington, D.C., at least four times over the last two years to meet with lawmakers and advocate for change. Most recently, she met with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on May 7. She then attended the inaugural World Fire Congress on May 8 and joined a panel of experts from fire departments around the world to discuss collaboration, data collection, public education and messaging related to the dangers of lithium-ion batteries.

She also testified before the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissioner in July 2023: “We reached a point of crisis in New York City,” she said. Lithium-ion batteries have caused approximately 500 fires and killed 24 people in the last two years and continue to be among the top causes of fatal fires in New York City.

A companion bill in the Senate, S.1008, was introduced in March and referred to the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

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Illinois Fire Service Institute Open House

This from Asher Heimermann:

As part of their 100-year celebration, IFSI is hosting a Community Open House on June 5. They are inviting the public to join then from 5-7pm to experience IFSI. This event is free. For more information, visit; #openhouse; #IFSI; #100-year-anniversary;

click to download

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