Archive for category Fire Service News

Fire service pensions

Excerpts from the

Pingree Grove & Countryside Fire Protection District Chief Mitch Crocetti receives $117,500 a year in his current role, but his pension after his previous 30-year career with the Wood Dale Fire Department also pays him $124,037 annually.

Crocetti is one of at least 15 suburban fire chiefs who are drawing six-figure salaries while receiving pensions and building toward eventual second public pensions, according to a Daily Herald analysis of fire pension records.

He said smaller fire departments benefit by being able to pay lower salaries to retirees on pensions. “That’s how a lot of these smaller departments can afford to have experienced, educated chiefs,” Crocetti said. “Without these kinds of benefits, I don’t know how a smaller community could draw someone.”

However, Naperville Republican state Rep. Grant Wehrli wants to end the perk. He plans to introduce a bill next session that will mirror the legislation he successfully championed last year for police. When that law becomes effective Jan. 1, police retirees who are collecting pensions can’t take new police jobs and be eligible for second pensions.
“It’s an egregious abuse of the pension systems that allows someone to collect a retirement benefit while still working in the same line of work,” Wehrli said.

The 15 chiefs average an annual salary of $137,597 while also receiving pension payouts that average $104,762.

Carol Stream Fire Protection District Chief Robert Hoff makes more from his Chicago Fire Department pension — $122,472 — than he does from his current salary of $113,645. All the others receive more from their current salary than from their pensions.

With his $161,709 salary and $125,624 pension from the Highland Park Fire Department, a total of $287,333, Des Plaines Fire Chief Alan Wax receives the highest combined annual payout of the 15 chiefs. Next year, his 10th with Des Plaines, he becomes vested in his new pension program.

“It’s triple dipping,” argued Madeleine Doubek, vice president of policy at the Chicago-based Better Government Association. “I think most of us believe a pension is supposed to be something that you collect when you’re no longer working a full-time job, and that’s clearly not what’s happening here.”

In Warrenville, Dennis Rogers Jr. is paid to be fire chief while also receiving an Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund pension as a former sheriff’s deputy. He also participates in the Warrenville Fire District’s pension plan and eventually will be eligible to receive that second pension.

Several more fire chiefs are collecting pensions from their former fire departments or districts but opted for different retirement benefits at their new departments. Some received as much as 15 percent of their annual salaries paid into 401(k)-like retirement programs designed for public employees.

Firefighters contribute about 9.5 percent of their pay toward their eventual pensions. Most fire pension funds expect a 7 percent return on investment income each year. The strength of the fund’s investment returns determines how much money taxpayers owe the fund each year. If the investment target isn’t reached, taxpayers have to pay more.
However, most towns or fire districts haven’t fully funded pensions for years, so most taxpayers these days wind up paying more each year to make up for previous years’ shortfalls.

Crocetti complained that funding shortfalls from the past are the main reason public pensions have come under attack. “I don’t get the right to say I’m going to contribute less than what I’m supposed to and I’ll catch up in a couple years,” he argued. “That’s what started this mess, and now we’ve lost out on all that investment income that we’ll never get back.”

Firefighters get 75 percent of their final salary as a starting pension after 30 years of work. They can begin collecting at age 50. The pension grows 3 percent each year.

Most other public employees can’t have multiple pensions because jobs like teachers, librarians, judges, legislators, city workers, and university professors are all handled under statewide retirement systems. That means a librarian can’t retire from one town after 30 years and start collecting a pension, then go work at a library in a neighboring town and start the pension contribution process all over again. Most other public workers have to put in more than 40 years on the job to maximize their retirement benefits as well.

Meanwhile, there are more than 600 separate and autonomous police and fire pension boards in the state, and that’s the main reason firefighters and police have been allowed to collect pensions and start new ones at different departments.

“There are all kinds of groups out there that recognize the inefficiency of 600 different pension funds,” Doubek said. “There are clearly more efficient ways to do this and not perpetuate the situation, and the legislation for the police ought to be a model for all public employees.”

Wehrli’s bill ends that pension loophole for police in a few weeks. While police won’t be able to start contributing to a new pension from another department or municipality in most cases, theoretically they could get a job with a state agency, as a teacher or even as a legislator and start building a new pension.

thanks Martin

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New fire station for Chicago

Here’s a link to the public building commission of Chicago with some conceptual drawings for a new fire station for Engine 115

conceptual drawing of new Chicago fire station at 119th and Morgan for Engine 115. and others
conceptual drawing of new Chicago fire station at 119th and Morgan for Engine 115. and others
conceptual drawing of new Chicago fire station at 119th and Morgan for Engine 115. and others
conceptual drawing of new Chicago fire station at 119th and Morgan for Engine 115. and others
conceptual drawing of new Chicago fire station at 119th and Morgan for Engine 115. and others

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Illinois Fire Service News

Excerpts from the

The state legislature approved a bill that requires fire chiefs to have specific qualifications over a veto from the governor and objections from municipal management groups.

Senate Bill 2619 establishes requirements for the fire chief post that local governments must follow.

“We’re just making sure that the men and women that run these departments are trained personnel … They could have firefighter officer training, they could have a certification from the International Fire Association or they could have ten years experience as a firefighter.”

The Illinois Fire Chiefs Association, the Associated Firefighters of Illinois and the Illinois Association of Firefighters supported the measure.

The measure was opposed by the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association, DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference, Northwest Municipal Conference, Barrington Area Council of Governments and other municipalities with home rule status.

“… I can tell you as we continue down the path of privatization of fire departments, it’s just a tragedy waiting to happen – having administrators or bookkeepers in charge of fire departments instead of trained fire personnel,” State Rep. Kathleen Willis said.

State Rep. Mark Batinick said, “that’s an exaggeration of what this bill does.”

“I have a village in my district that has a public safety director that is a police chief that came through the police ranks that’s running both,” Batinick said.

The measure is now law.

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Chicago Fire Department news

Excerpts from a long message to Chicago firefighters from Chicago mayoral hopeful Paul Vallas

I recognize the overriding issue of firefighter staff reductions and fire station closings creates anxiety among Chicago Fire Department members. While no mayoral candidate can in good conscience guarantee he/she will never close another station or recommend changes in staffing levels, it will be my priority to accomplish savings without jeopardizing firefighter health or safety.

With this in mind, my comprehensive long-term plans DO NOT include fire station closings or firefighter staff reductions. I will instead work with CFD to find ways to improve efficiencies, secure public and private funding to which CFD is entitled and monetize the department by extending income-generating services to private entities.

The issue of protecting the pensions of current and future retirees is also of utmost importance. Fulfilling pension obligations is a constitutional mandate, which means funding retirement takes precedence in any financial crisis. I have a plan that enables the city to meet the pension obligations of ALL our current and future retirees and meets the State’s pension funding mandate.

Of all the issues facing CFD, none are more important than the issue of firefighter and paramedic health and safety. Concern over the occurrence of occupational cancer has been mounting for several years. The incidence of certain cancers in firefighters is well documented in literature and recently a federal mandate was passed to maintain accurate records countywide.

As mayor of the City of Chicago I will ensure that CFD fully adheres to all National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and other national standards regarding cancer prevention for firefighters and paramedics. This will include instituting serious steps to minimize cancer in firefighters.

The CFD has yet to implement many of these steps. The fact that firefighters have only one set of bunker gear and paramedics have none places CFD employees at risk. Once gear is contaminated, the process of having a vendor take it off site for cleaning is time-consuming and laborious. The result is that most members wind up working with dirty gear. It is unacceptable that this situation persists.

This will change under my watch.

thanks Dennis


The passing of a friend … Glenn Bennett, Jr.

Many of our readers knew Glenn Bennett, Jr. who grew up in the area. Others may have known him from his years driving and delivering trucks for Seagrave.

In April of 2016, we posted an article about an accident that Glenn was involved in. He was hospitalized out east and then transferred to a rehab center in Wisconsin where he lived. Glenn passed away this past Sunday, November 4th and will be missed by all those whose lives he touched.

Glenn Bennett Jr  August 25, 1951 – November 4, 2018

Glenn Bennett Jr. of Three Lakes WI passed on November 4, 2018 at home surrounded by family at the age of 67. He was born August 25, 1951 in Evanston, Il. Glenn was a fireman for a total of 37 years between Northfield IL and the Three Lakes Fire Department. He became an employee of FDW Seagrave and delivered fire trucks all over the United States and volunteered his time during 9/11 to help with the recovery efforts and gave his support. He enjoyed his time outdoors working in the yard, going fishing with family, spending time in Florida, and a good laugh. He was proceeded in death by his parents Glenn Bennett Sr. and his mother Elizabeth Bennett. Survived by his wife Anita and daughters Lauren Madl (Paul Madl), Barbara Bennett, Ashley Edwards (Bryan Edwards), 2 grandchildren, 3 brothers and 2 sister’s. Anita would like to thank everyone for their support and prayers during this difficult time.

A visitation will be held at Gaffney-Busha Funeral Home in Eagle River WI, on November 10th 2018 from 10am-12 noon.

Thoughts from John Tobin, a longtime friend of Glenn, posted previously on Facebook.

John Tobin and Glenn Bennett, Jr

John Tobin and Glenn Bennett, Jr

For every picture there is usually a story and this one is no

exception… a call from my pedigree buddy Seagrave delivery man one
summer. He said JOHN can you come and help me….I’m in the maintenance pull
off on the Dan Ryan in downtown Chicago and I’m broke down…..I was like
Seagraves never break down and he laughed….the rig had developed an air
leak and he knew who to call… I jumped in the Suburban picked up the
parts that we needed and I was on my way. About 90 minutes later I arrived
and bing we got lucky and I had the right part. Glenn with the big smile and
bubbly personality was up and running, headed to New Jersey. Glenn always
was the biggest ambassador for SFA and his efforts should never be
forgotten. Please take a moment to think of Glenn, or drop him a line
wishing him well as he continues to struggle with what life thru at
him…… thought for today.

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Local ballot initiatives

Excerpts from – local ballot initiatives 

Elk Grove Rural Fire Prot. District

– Shall the number of trustees of the Elk Grove Rural Fire Protection District be decreased from 7 to 5 members?

North Palos Fire Protection District

– Shall the extension limitation under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law for the North Palos Fire Protection District, Cook County, Illinois be increased from the lesser of 5% or the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index over the prior levy year to 20% for levy year 2018?” For the 2018 levy year, the approximate amount of the additional tax extendable against property containing a single-family residence and having a fair market value at the time of the referendum of $100,000 is estimated to be $52.20.

Riverside Lawn Fire Protection District

– Shall the Riverside Lawn Fire Protection District be dissolved and discontinued?

Shall the Gardner Fire Protection District levy a special tax at a rate not to exceed 0.10% of the value of all taxable property within the District as equalized or assessed by the Department of Revenue for the purposes of providing funds to pay for the costs of emergency and rescue crews and equipment? – Shall the Maximum Allowable Tax Rate for the Gardner Fire Protection District be increased from 0.30% to 0.40% of the value of all taxable property within the District as equalized or assessed by the Department of Revenue? 

thanks Martin

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Fire service news

Excerpts from

Keeping bedroom doors closed in your home when you go to sleep is critical in keeping your family safe. We used to have about 17 minutes to get out of our homes if a fire broke out. Because of open floor plans and more synthetics in our furniture, the window for escape is now down to just three minutes.

Joel Sellinger, an Everett (WA) fireman, sees it all the time. Twin 3-year-old girls survived an apartment fire earlier this year because their bedroom door was closed. He was on the scene and took photos of the damage. One picture clearly shows the scorched, blackened outside of their bedroom door. The inside portion looks almost untouched.

He has been unable to convince his young daughter to keep her door closed at night. So, he came up with something called Lifedoor. He worked with the Northwest Innovation Research Center to make it a reality. When a smoke alarm starts going off, Lifedoor hears that sound and triggers a device mounted to the bedroom door. The door closes automatically, a light is activated, and an alert is sent to your phone.

Sellinger’s invention is expected to cost less than $100 and be on the market in February. He says it’s already helping his family sleep better at night.

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Mattoon Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from

The Mattoon City Council voted Tuesday night to eliminate the city’s assistant fire chief position due to budgetary restraints and transfer the current assistant fire chief, Sean Junge, to fill a vacant shift captain post.

One council member said this post is being eliminated to help reduce the city’s budget deficit and to put another firefighter into the field to help meet union minimum staffing requirements. He and the mayor emphasized that the elimination has nothing to do with Junge who declined to comment after the meeting. The city administrator estimated that Junge’s annual salary will decrease by approximately 8 percent, not counting overtime, with the transfer to shift captain.

The council also heard concerns from residents about ambulance service coverage in Mattoon, including two accounts of Paris ambulances needing to be dispatched to Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center to transfer patients to Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana.

Four residents spokes about ambulance coverage in Mattoon since the city eliminated the Mattoon Fire Department’s ambulance service on July 25 due to budgetary constraints. Private providers Dunn’s Ambulance and Mitchell-Jerdan Ambulance Service are continuing to offer coverage in Mattoon.

The city has been making budget cuts as it faces a $750,000 deficit this year and the prospect of an even larger deficit next year. The city is facing growing pension costs and  expenses.

Residents who feel strongly about the ambulance issue were encouraged to form a committee to pursue a sales or property tax referendum for bringing back the fire department’s ambulance service.

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Downers Grove fire engine for sale

This from

2000 Pierce Saber FIRE TRUCK, 8.7L L6 DIESEL. Vehicle starts and drives well. Pump testing completed last October. Can be driven from lot. Vehicle can be inspected Monday thru Friday 7am to 3pm at 700 Curtiss Street, Downers Grove Il.

2000 Pierce Saber fire engine from Downers Grove FD for sale

2000 Pierce Saber fire engine from Downers Grove FD for sale

2000 Pierce Saber fire engine from Downers Grove FD for sale

2000 Pierce Saber fire engine from Downers Grove FD for sale

2000 Pierce Saber fire engine from Downers Grove FD for sale

2000 Pierce Saber fire engine from Downers Grove FD for sale

2000 Pierce Saber fire engine from Downers Grove FD for sale

2000 Pierce Saber fire engine from Downers Grove FD for sale

thanks Martin

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Fire service news

Excerpts from

When Apple released its new watch about one year ago, it came with a new feature that lets users press and hold a button on the side of the device to call 911 for help. Since then, 911 call centers across the country have been experiencing a problem with accidental calls.

When you wear the watch and bend at the wrist, it can put pressure on the button which will then call 911. It takes about three seconds of pressing the button for the call to go out. It will also alert your emergency contact. The watch will then make a loud beeping noise. Some people don’t know that this feature has been activated on their device.

Officials in Lake County said these accidental calls are happening more than people may think.

Dispatchers said they’ve been receiving up to 10 accidental Apple Watch calls a day in Lake County alone. The calls come from people working out or even driving. Emergency call centers in Aurora and Kane County have reported the same issue.

Officials said if this happens to you, dispatchers will attempt to call you on your cellphone. They say to stay on the line and explain it was just a mistake so they don’t have to send help.

There is a way to disable the feature on an Apple Watch:

  • Go to the Apple Watch app
  • Click “Emergency SOS”
  • Click off “Hold Side Button”