Posts Tagged Champaign Fire Department

Champaign Fire Department news

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The Champaign Fire Department has announced it is planning on utilizing unmanned aerial systems (drones) in a variety of emergency situations.

Fire department officials say they are sending eight firefighters to Parkland College to receive pilot training and Federal Aviation Administration certification.  Additionally, the firefighters will participate in hands-on training prior to using the drones during actual emergencies.

To help the Champaign Fire Department in this effort, Horizon Hobby donated two drones for use in emergencies.  Various instances where these devices could be used include during hazardous materials response, natural disasters, water and ice rescues, large fires, and live fire training exercises.

Fire officials say they hope to begin using the drones on actual emergencies by January 2018.

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Champaign Fire Department news

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Champaign’s Fire Chief Gary Ludwig witnessed the benefits of using mechanical CPR devices in Memphis, Tenn., where he previously was a deputy chief.

That department equipped all of its front-line ambulances with mechanical CPR devices and saw an immediate boost — from 21 percent to 36 percent — in cardiac-arrest patients with a return of spontaneous circulation.

Now the Champaign Fire Department is poised to put 24 of these devices to work in a dozen fire departments in Champaign and Piatt counties with the help of a federal grant, the acceptance of which still requires the approval of the city council.

The fire department has been awarded a $333,819 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and is proposing to keep nine of the mechanical CPR devices it would buy to equip its own vehicles and distribute others to Urbana, Bement, Bondville, Gifford, Homer, Ivesdale, Northern Piatt, Rantoul, Sadorus, Sangamon Valley, and Savoy fire departments.

Reviews about the benefits of mechanical CPR have been mixed. The American Heart Association said in updated (2015) CPR guidelines that evidence for using mechanical piston devices for chest compressions versus manual chest compressions in patients with cardiac arrest “does not demonstrate a benefit.”

“Manual chest compressions remain the standard of care for the treatment of cardiac arrest,” the organization said.

However, it also said, the device may be a reasonable alternative in some settings where high-quality manual CPR delivery may be challenging or dangerous for the provider.

Ludwig said he disputes less-than-favorable studies, based on his previous experience with mechanical CPR use and favorable studies he’s seen on the LUCAS chest compression system, one of the devices on the market.

Ludwig said some studies don’t necessarily show what paramedics and firefighters experience in the field trying to do manual CPR under some circumstances — such as trying to deliver chest compressions in the back of a moving emergency vehicle hanging on with one arm.

Dr. Brad Weir, Carle’s EMS medical director, said these devices deliver “flawless and tireless compressions.”

“Instead of having people do it and switch compressors every couple of minutes, the machine can do it,” he said.

The quality of CPR can begin to fall off as the person doing the chest compressions becomes exhausted, which is why caregivers administering the compressions are advised to switch off every couple of minutes.

“In areas where you may not have as many people to perform the compressions, this could be key to the source of flawless, tireless compressions for a longer time,” Weir said.

Subject to the council’s approval of the grant, Ludwig said firefighters and EMS personnel on a cardiac arrest call will begin with manual CPR, apply the device to the patient, and the patient would ride to the hospital undergoing CPR with the mechanical device.

Approval of the grant isn’t yet on a city council agenda. The federal grant requires council approval because there’s a local funding match of $33,381 involved, according to the fire department.

thanks Dan

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Champaign Fire Department news

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The Champaign Fire Department is studying whether Station 3 should be moved. It has been on west Bradley avenue for half a century. The chief says that might not be the best place for it anymore.

He says the apparatus bay was designed for trucks as they were 50 years ago. The department had to build an addition on to the back. The crew there is one of the busiest– if not the busiest– engine company in the city.

“When you build a new fire station, you have to think about the future,” says Fire Chief Gary Ludwig.

He says station three is stuck in the past. The crew says it’s easier to work with the truck outside, because when it’s in, they have no room to work out.

“We don’t know what the future holds,” says Ludwig, “We may have to put a ladder in that location. We may have to house an ambulance in that location.”

The department is hiring a consultant to determine where the station should go now. They’ll do that by analyzing five years’ worth of service calls.

Chief Ludwig says right now, they’re looking at four places station three could go.

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Champaign Fire Department news

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The Champaign Fire Department is now one of the best departments in the nation. This week they [received a] Class One rating, the highest of ten, by the Insurance Services Office or ISO and they are representing the rating with an ISO emblem on their trucks.

They rank in the top 200 departments of 48,000 nationwide.

“That’s why we exist,” Champaign Fire Chief Gary Ludwig said. “We are here to take care of the citizens of Champaign. We’re very excited about that, we’re going to go for an ISO 1. We are up again for reevaluation in the next three or four years. We can get an even better score.”

The score is based on things like training, operations, water flow and communications.

This is the first time the Champaign Fire Department ranked Class One since its inception nearly 150 years ago.

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Champaign Fire Department news

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A $1.3 million Department of Homeland Security grant, awarded to the fire department last year, was formally enacted this week to hire six new firefighters.

The grant, called Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, will last for two years. City staff and the city council are now looking into their options for when the grant expires.

“We’re going to study this for two years to come up with a continuity plan,” said Fire Chief Gary Ludwig. “We want to figure out how we (keep the six firefighters) in the future without reducing city services.”

A proposition for the study, also being called a stainability plan, will have its first appearance at next Tuesday’s city council meeting. Ludwig said he’s not opposed to re-applying for the grant after it ends but he’s unsure if it will be made available again.

Champaign Budget Officer Molly Talkington said the study’s goal will be to “maintain the increased staffing level for Ladder 164 on a recurring basis after the grant expires.” Ladder 164 is located at fire station four on W. John street.

The increased staffing level at hand is 28 firefighters instead of 27. Whenever the station is short-staffed, which Ludwig said happens almost daily, firefighters are called back on mandatory overtime.

Over the past several years, that overtime has cost the department an additional $300,000 at minimum.

“Three years of data reflects that 3.25 – 4.00 firefighters are off each day for leave other than vacation or Kelly Days,” according to the report.

“A Kelly day is when each firefighter is given an average of 8.7 days off per fiscal year to compensate for working a 56-hour work week when a firefighter’s normal work week is 52 hours.”

In addition, Ladder 164 is currently staffed with two firefighters, which the report says causes safety concerns because the ladder can’t be fully operational.

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Champaign Fire Department news

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The Champaign Fire Department was awarded a Class 1 Public Protection Classification.  The Class 1 rating by the Insurance Services Office, the highest rating possible, means the Champaign Fire Department is one of the nation’s best.  The Insurance Services Office is an organization that independently evaluates fire-protection efforts in communities across the United States.

Of 48,632 fire departments evaluated nationwide, Champaign is one of only 179 fire departments awarded a Class 1 rating, putting it in the top 0.37 percent. Only five other fire departments in the state of Illinois currently hold this coveted top rating.

“This Class 1 rating is a direct reflection of the level of hard work and dedication shown by our Firefighters, Inspectors, Educators, and Telecommunicators that come to work every day delivering outstanding service to our citizens, students, and visitors.” said Fire Chief Gary Ludwig.

Insurance Services Organization collects information on communities and analyzes the data using its Fire Suppression Rating Schedule.  This Fire Suppression Rating Schedule evaluates four primary categories of fire suppression – fire department, emergency communications, water supply, and community risk reduction.

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Champaign Fire Department news

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The Champaign Fire Department is receiving a grant worth more than $180,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help pay for technical rescue training.

Officials say the Assistance to Firefighters Grant also required a city match of $18,347, or ten percent of the $183,478 grant, which was approved by the Champaign City Council.  The grant will pay for the following courses, provided by the University of Illinois Fire Service Institute:

– Rope Rescue Operations
– Rope Rescue Technician
– Vehicle Machinery Technician
– Confined Space Rescue Operations
– Confined Space Rescue Technician

Champaign Fire Chief Gary Ludwig says, “Continued training is paramount to the safety of our first responders and those we serve in our great community.”

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Liability at issue for Fire and EMS response to U of I campus

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A turf war over which city’s trucks should be first due for fires and medical emergencies in parts of Campustown (UofI) has broken out between leaders in Champaign and Urbana.

Urbana wants to keep things the way they’ve been since 1997, when the two cities and the University of Illinois struck an intergovernmental agreement about who should provide fire service on campus.

Champaign wants the same — only with an interpretation different from the one they’ve been using. When there’s an emergency at one of the 194 private properties currently serviced by the Urbana Fire Department but physically located within the city of Champaign, it wants to get the call from METCAD.

Each city’s fire department responds to university-owned properties with Champaign addresses based on which truck can get there faster. Because Urbana mans the university-built fire station at Gregory Drive and Goodwin Avenue, Urbana’s fire truck is closer to most of the campus buildings and has been first on the run cards.

The setup was first called into question after Gary Ludwig’s 2014 hiring as Champaign fire chief. In examining all aspects of the department, he discovered what he called a potentially big problem — Champaign could be held legally responsible for service it didn’t even provide.

A back-and-forth between the cities’ fire chiefs — then between Champaign City Manager Dorothy David and Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing — led to Friday’s latest twist: Prussing, Urbana City Attorney James Simon and Urbana Fire Chief Brian Nightlinger all sent letters to Champaign leaders disagreeing with their neighbor’s position.

In essence, the letters, stated that the agreement has worked for nearly 18 years, and that Urbana’s fire department can provide better, quicker service to the area.

The issue at the heart of the disagreement is whether the safety of people living in this area will be affected.

Champaign’s Ludwig says there is no real difference in response time, contending that the entire campus area could be serviced by his trucks within 13 seconds of the time it takes Urbana’s to get there. Ludwig also recently commissioned a study from an outside consultant that he says showed Champaign can respond anywhere in this area within the four minutes recommended by the National Fire Protection Association.

“Service will not be compromised at all,” Ludwig said. “If it were, we wouldn’t be doing this.” Nightlinger, who was a UI firefighter before the department disbanded in the late 1990s, disagrees.

In his Friday letter to Ludwig, Urbana’s chief cited examples of faster response times to campus buildings and argued that the difference in response times for some of the affected properties is much greater than 13 seconds.

For example, using METCAD average response time statistics:

— Nightlinger says it takes Urbana 3 minutes, 43 seconds to get to Newman Hall, at the corner of Sixth and Armory streets and it takes Champaign 5 minutes, 34 seconds.

— Nightlinger says it takes Urbana 4 minutes, 6 seconds to get to Illini Tower, at the corner of Fifth and Chalmers and it takes Champaign 6 minutes, 17 seconds.

It should be noted that Urbana and Champaign measure run times differently.  Urbana stops the clock when its first engine arrives at the scene; Champaign’s response time ends when its command unit arrives.

Under the changes proposed by Champaign, the only type of service that would be affected would be for medical calls or small fires. Both cities’ departments would respond to working fire calls because they require four engines.

“We’ve been doing this successfully for 18 years,” he said. “There are some frustrations on our part with how the agreement is now being interpreted.”

Champaign Mayor Deb Feinen said the city has a responsibility to its taxpayers — to provide them with fire service, and to be held accountable for that service. “The Urbana Fire Department does a great job, but they are subject to the Urbana City Council,” Feinen said  “Something that has to be considered in all of this: What is our liability if we allow Urbana Fire to respond and something goes wrong? It seems to me that we have the ultimate liability and responsibility for those properties.”

Urbana has its own liability worries should Champaign’s wishes be enacted. Simon, the city’s attorney, warned that both Urbana and Champaign could face serious legal problems if they’re found to not service citizens as quickly as possible. If changes are made to the agreement, he asked Champaign to not hold Urbana responsible for any future liabilities and damages.

Feinen said she disagrees with Simon’s opinion. Ludwig pointed out that nowhere else in the cities do the departments rely on the closest responder engine principle.

The UI’s take on the debate? In a letter to leaders in both cities, Associate Chancellor Mike DeLorenzo urged them to “provide the best possible service and response times to the location, regardless of the ownership or control of the property.”

thanks Dan

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Champaign FD celebrates 150 years

Excerpts from the Champaign News Gazette:

On Wednesday, the Champaign Fire Department celebrated its 150th birthday. On Thursday, the city’s oldest living firefighter will celebrate his 91st.

Pete Lipscomb worked as a firefighter from 1951 to 1985, 34 years of the department’s history. On Tuesday, he toured station No. 1 and shared some of the changes the department has seen since he started nearly 64 years ago.

Lipscomb said the department never had anything like the state-of-the-art trucks it does now. When he first started, the truck was open-cab and had a siren right next to the driver’s head, which was often Lipscomb.

“That’s why I have these,” Lipscomb said, pointing to his hearing aids.

The department also didn’t have technology to help find addresses, so firefighters would have to study maps of the city. During their downtime, the crew would test each other on city locations. If the driver got lost, they would have to look for the flames, Lipscomb joked.

The equipment is also a cut above now. In the early days, only one person per shift had a smoke mask, and the others would just fight the fire and take breaks to go outside to catch their breath.

“That’s why I have COPD,” he said.

Firefighting has changed even more in the past 150 years, said deputy chief John Barker.

When the Champaign department first started in 1865, it was made up of volunteers, and horses would help firefighters get places in a timely manner. In the 1880s and ’90s, the department started paying firefighters.

Back then, the city had a bucket brigade, which would carry pails of water from a hand-pump to help put out fires. Firefighters also worked to tear down parts of buildings, so the fire would end there and not extend to the rest of town.

Instead of 911 calls and dispatches, the city would ring a bell on top of the city building, indicating which part of town was on fire.

Later, the city had a steam fire engine, Barker said, but that was replaced by Champaign’s first motorized engine 100 years ago, in 1915, after a fire on Lewis Street caused $800,000 worth of damage, which is $18.8 million in today’s money.

There will be a fire apparatus parade and firefighter muster,  Noon to 5 p.m., July 19, to include a parade of fire trucks that will leave the Illinois Fire Service Institute at noon, travel west on Kirby Ave., north on Mattis Ave., then east on University Ave. to Champaign Central High (ETA: around 12:30 p.m.).  The muster starts at 1 in the parking lot at the corner of Washington and Walnut streets.

thanks Dan


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New fire chief in Champaign

The NewsGazette has an article about a new fire chief in Champaign:

After an intensive search lasting more than a year, Champaign has a new fire chief.

Gary Ludwig has spent 37 years in emergency services, most recently as deputy fire chief in Memphis and a fire and emergency services training consultant, and will head the Champaign Fire Department beginning Nov. 17. He will take over for Dave Ferber, who has been acting fire chief since Doug Forsman retired last November.

Ludwig began his career in emergency services as an emergency medical technician in St. Louis in 1977, according to his resume. He soon became a paramedic and in 1994 became chief paramedic of the St. Louis Fire Department. He did that for seven years before taking other jobs as an educator and a director of emergency services for Jefferson County, Mo. In 2005, he was hired as deputy fire chief in Memphis.

Since 1996, he has been managing director of his private company, The Ludwig Group, which provides training and consultation.

In addition to providing a high level of service for residents, Ludwig said he has another priority: the safety and wellness of all fire department employees.

“I’ve done my homework on the Champaign Fire Department,” he said. “They’re a very professional fire department. I’m very excited. Their professionalism is second to none.”

Ludwig has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Kensington University and a master’s degree in business and management from National Louis University. His Champaign salary will start at $135,000.

thanks Dan

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