Archive for category Fire Service News

Of interest … former Carol Stream fire chief retires from Colorado FD

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Chief Mark Bodane retires from the Brighton Fire Rescue District

thanks Drew


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Evanston Fire Department news

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The Evanston Fire Department (EFD) and public health officials urged residents to learn about the state’s new smoke detector law, which requires residents to install an alarm with a 10-year sealed battery by 2022.

The EFD worked with the Illinois General Assembly to pass the law because of the number of deaths that occur in Illinois homes without smoke detectors. In 2018, 70 percent of the residential fire deaths were in homes without smoke detectors.

Evanston Fire Chief Brian Scott said that though the number of people killed in fires has decreased in the past, people are more likely to die in a residential fire than they were years ago. The majority of deaths are caused by smoke inhalation, which can be prevented by people escaping faster.

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Area fire departments receive loans for apparatus

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A total of 23 communities in Illinois will receive funding for new fire trucks, and 11 communities will get funds for new ambulances. Illinois State Fire Marshal Matt Perez and Illinois Finance Authority Executive Director Christopher Meister issued over $9.3 million in no interest or low interest loans to emergency responders across the state. The loans are made available through the Fire Truck Revolving Loan Program (FTRL) and Ambulance Revolving Loan Program (ARLP).

Under the FTRL program, fire departments and fire protection districts can apply for up to $350,000 in low interest or no interest loans for purchase of a fire truck or brush trucks. The loans have to be repaid within 20 years. Under the ARLP program, local governments and not-for-profit ambulance service providers can apply for no interest or low interest loans of up to $200,000. These loans must be paid back in 10 years.

Area recipients of the Fire Truck Revolving Loan:

• Evergreen Park Fire Department                           $350,000.00

• Harvard Fire Protection District                              $350,000.000

• North Park Fire Protection District                          $350,000.00

• Oak Forest Fire Department                                   $350,000.00

• Orland Fire Protection District                                $350,000.00

• Schiller Park Fire Department, Village of               $350,000.00

• Woodstock Fire/Rescue District                            $350,000.00

Area recipients of Ambulance Revolving Loan:

• Cortland Community Fire Protection District          $200,000.00

• Franklin Park Fire Department                               $157,991.00

• Joliet Fire Department                                            $200,000.00

• Limestone Township Fire Protection District          $200,000.00

• Nunda Rural Fire Protection District                       $200,000.00

• Palos Heights Fire Protection District                     $185,000.00

• Princeton Fire Department                                     $200,000.00

• Woodstock Fire/Rescue District                             $200,000.00

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Of local interest … Global Emergency Products

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thanks Ron

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Sun Prairie Fire Department news (more)

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A bill was signed on Thursday renaming the Sun Prairie post office after Sun Prairie FD Captain Cory Barr who was killed in a natural gas explosion in downtown Sun Prairie in July 2018.

Workers installing fiber-optic cable triggered the explosion when they mistakenly struck an underground gas line. Barr was among a group of firefighters who evacuated more than 100 people from the area ahead of the blast. Six buildings were destroyed but no one else was killed.

The bill was introduced in April, the Senate passed it in July, and the House passed it Oct. 16.

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Suicide in the fire service

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More firefighters have died by suicide than in the line of duty over the past year, according to the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance. The numbers are staggering. In the past seven days, eight firefighters across the United States have taken their own lives. One was in Fayette County, Georgia.

Many factors affect a firefighter’s ability to understand when a fellow brother or sister is suffering, but that does not make it any less critical an issue.

So far this year, there have been 98 suicides among firefighters and EMT’s. They estimate a 55 percent reporting.  Fayette County Fire Department Lt. Ed Sherwood’s death by suicide this week hit the community hard.  The department posted honestly about his death, highlighting how difficult it is for people in their line of work who are suffering.

According to Jeff Dill, founder of FBHA, there are five warning signs to look for (R.A.I.L.S.):

Recklessness/Impulsiveness: These might be subtle signs such as purchasing guns when a person has always been against them.

Anger: Suppressed anger or explosive anger from seemingly minor issues can be a dangerous sign.

Isolation: Becoming distant from their career company around the station or volunteer firefighters who don’t participate in drills or calls as much.

Loss of Confidence in skills and abilities: Several firefighters and EMT’s have advised FBHA they lost confidence in their ability to get the job done due to concentrating on emotional or personal issues they were battling.

Sleep Deprivation: Loss of sleep can indicate stress, anxiety, PTSD or several other emotional issues a member might be struggling with and not realize.

If you know someone or if you are thinking about suicide, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).  Emergency personnel can text the word HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the United States, anytime, about any type of crisis. A live, trained crisis counselor receives the text and responds from a secure online platform.

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Of interest … DuPage Airport Disaster Drill

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Just after 6 p.m. Thursday, a mock scenario was staged at the DuPage Airport involving a passenger airliner making an emergency landing at night. Crews responded to the scene to extinguish flames from a burning fuselage, as well as triage people acting as injured passengers and take them to Central DuPage Hospital. Crews had been practicing all week and Thursday’s exercise was the culmination of the training.

Shortly after 6:15 p.m., flames appeared from a propane-filled fuselage and emergency vehicles appeared from south and west of the runway, heading toward the northeast end of the airport to the staging area. Airport staff said firefighters were not told the location beforehand in order to make accessing the site as realistic as possible.

Firefighters from Addison, Bartlett, Batavia, Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Geneva, Glenside, Hanover Park, Naperville, Roselle, St. Charles, Warrenville, Wheaton, and Winfield participated. Officials from the Aurora Airport and several other federal and local agencies also were involved.

The DuPage Airport is the third busiest in the state. The airport is a strategic site because it offers the longest runway after O’Hare.


Of interest north of the border … Burlington Rescue Squad

Excerpts from the journal

The Burlington Rescue Squad will dissolve at the end of the year due to difficulties keeping up with an increased call volume and a decline in volunteerism. The dissolution will leave the City of Burlington Fire Department to pick up rescue services for city residents. Town of Burlington officials are negotiating with the city regarding a likely contract for EMS service after Dec. 31.  Both municipalities have their own fire departments. The city’s department will hire three additional full-time and two additional part-time fire/EMS staff resulting in the city fire department’s paid staff being comprised of: five full-time and 12 part-time fire/EMS staff and one part-time administrative assistant. They also have volunteer firefighters,

The town could then feasibly contract with the city for rescue service, which appears to be the most likely outcome.  About 20 members are currently on the rescue squad roster, and some will likely volunteer with the city fire department or other area volunteer departments.

The volunteer squad, founded in 1946, has been responding to 1,300 to 1,600 calls annually over the past few years. It was founded as a nonprofit by the Burlington Rotary Club, which continued to oversee it. At one time they also covered parts of Dover, Kenosha County, and Walworth County.

The Rescue Squad Board of Directors decided that continuing service is no longer practical. In April, the squad and city fire department had jointly announced they were entering negotiations to merge. The squad considered lightening its load by solely responding to the town, but it was determined last week that it was not feasible.

Some of the rescue squad’s equipment will be donated to the city and town fire departments, while the rest will be donated to departments in need throughout the state.


Illinois Fire Safety Alliance Camp for burn victims

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The Illinois Fire Safety Alliance has announced the dates for next year’s Camp “I Am Me!” The camp will represent the 30th anniversary of Illinois’ camp for young burn survivors, ages 8 to 16, who have experienced a burn requiring outpatient treatment or hospitalization.

Through the generosity of donors, supporters, sponsors, and volunteers, the IFSA continues to offer this unique, week-long experience at no cost to campers. Everything is covered, including lodging, meals, activities, and transportation to and from the camp, which is held at the YMCA Camp Duncan in Ingleside.

Next year’s Camp “I Am Me” will be June 14-20 with the fire apparatus parade, appreciation day and fun fair on June 17.

No other IFSA program has received greater attention from the fire service, medical community, general public, and the media then Camp “I Am Me.” It provides the setting for child burn survivors to share their common experiences while being able to play and not feel self-conscious about their scars. The benefits to the campers – physical, psychological, and emotional – have been enough to inspire a long list of eager volunteers and contributors.

Camp “I Am Me” was the first camp (for burn survivors) to become accredited in the United States through the American Camp Association (ACA). In order to maintain this recognition, the IFSA continues to meet industry-accepted and government-recognized standards to ensure the proper care and safety of all campers.

For more information about the camp, go to

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Illinois fire service news

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday unveiled a plan to merge roughly 650 local pension funds for suburban and downstate police officers and firefighters into two statewide funds in an effort to narrow a widening funding gap and ease the property tax burden on homeowners. The idea of consolidating the public safety pension funds — which together have roughly $11.5 billion in unfunded liabilities — is not new, but many previous attempts have failed to gain traction in the General Assembly as police and firefighter unions and other interests have pushed to retain local control. The governor is now calling on lawmakers to take swift action to require the funds to combine under a plan recommended by a task force he assembled shortly after taking office in January.

According to the 22-page report, each day the funds remain separate, they collectively forfeit nearly $1 million in potential investment returns, … forcing most municipalities to rely on a never-ending cycle of increasing local property taxes or cutting services to meet their pension obligations … that’s a hole that these funds are digging deeper every year, and then municipalities have to ask taxpayers to fill the hole.”

If the funds were to perform similarly to larger Illinois pension plans over the next five years, it would mean additional investment returns of $820 million to $2.5 billion over the next five years, according to the report, which cites a state Department of Insurance analysis.

Under the plan, there would be separate statewide funds for police officers and firefighters, each managed by an eight-member board with equal representation of municipalities and police officers or firefighters. Each police or fire department would maintain a separate account within the funds, and the money would be held in a pair of trusts separate from the state treasury. Assets and liabilities would not be shifted from one municipality’s plan to another. But the funds would be able to pool their assets for investment purposes and cut down on administrative fees currently paid separately by each local fund.

The plan has picked up a key backer in the state’s firefighters union. But winning support for such a monumental change over the next month won’t be an easy task, and consolidation will face strong pushback from police unions and a statewide association that represents trustees of the existing funds.

Not dealt with in the report are $134 billion in unfunded liabilities in statewide retirement systems covering teachers, university employees, state workers, legislators and judges; and Chicago’s nearly $30 billion in unfunded liabilities across four funds.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot at one point had floated the idea of Chicago being part of a consolidation, but her latest legislative asks don’t include that idea. Pritzker said examining the potential benefits of consolidating the state and city funds will be among the next jobs for the task force, though the report says consolidation would not achieve material improvement of their investment returns for the much larger funds.

Over the past decade, the annual investment returns reaped by the suburban and downstate police and fire funds, on average, have been about 2 percentage points lower than those of the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, which has more than 429,000 members across 3,000 units of local government, excluding Chicago. IMRF — the state’s best-funded public pension fund — is a model for the proposed consolidation.

Opponents of consolidation have argued for the importance of local control and pushed for fewer restrictions on how small funds invest their money. Given the opposition to pension fund consolidation, the task force found mandatory consolidation would be the sensible approach. Better performing plans would perform at least as well in the long term under a consolidated model, while the worst performing plans would perform substantially better.

The new statewide police fund would have $8.7 billion in assets while the firefighter fund would have roughly $6.3 billion. Currently, 65% of the local funds have less than $20 million in assets and 44% have less than $10 million, which creates limitations on the types of investments available to them.

Collectively, the existing funds have enough assets to cover only 55% of liabilities, far short of the state-mandated target of 90% funding by 2040 and a figure that has dropped since it was at nearly 63% before the Great Recession, according to a report. In all, the funds — which are required for any town with at least 5,000 residents and one full-time police officer or firefighter — cover about 20,000 police and 14,000 fire department employees and retirees.

The task force is also proposing a costly series of changes for police and fire pensioners hired after 2011, in response to concerns that the current setup may violate federal rules for workers who are exempt from Social Security that would reinstate surviving spouse benefits for that group of police officers and firefighters, increase their pensionable salary cap and amend their final average salary calculation. The report estimates these changes to suburban and downstate plans would offset between $70 million and $95 million of the projected $820 million to $2.5 billion in investment return gains over a five-year period.

The task force also will continue to look at whether even more money could be saved by centralizing the administration of benefits rather than leaving that in the hands of the local pension boards.

The report acknowledges initial costs for transitioning assets into the consolidated pool, but said that would be substantially less than the upside from stronger investment returns over a matter of a few years.

thanks Asher