Posts Tagged Chicago Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff

Smeal/Ladder Tower Co building first 55′ Snorkel (more)

Smeal/LTC has several short video segments where local chief officers talk about the new Snorkel for Frankfort (Chief James Grady and Chief Bob Wilson) plus retired CFD Commissioner Bob Hoff talking about the Snorkels used in Chicago.

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Commissioner Hoff stepping down

Chicago Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff

Chicago Commissioner Hoff announces he's leaving the CFD.

CBS Chicago is reporting the CFD Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff is steping down:

CHICAGO (CBS) – Mayor Rahm Emanuel is losing his first major cabinet member. CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine has learned that Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff is stepping down.

Hoff was one of the few leftovers from the Daley administration. Sources said he submitted his resignation on Wednesday.

He will be replaced by former Office of Emergency Management and Communications boss Jose Santiago, who left the city when Emanuel took over as mayor, in part because of problems during the Groundhog Day blizzard last year.

The entire article can be found HERE.

The Sun-Times has an article HERE.

Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff — who said he was “deathly against” closing firehouses or reducing the minimum staffing requirement on fire apparatus — abruptly resigned Wednesday, leaving firefighters without a champion headed into contentious contract talks with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Hoff, 56, is a third generation Chicago firefighter whose father was killed in the line of duty. He chose to retire — and go out on his own terms — on the 50th anniversary of his father’s death. Sources said the decision was his. The mayor did not force him out.

“Thirty-five years is long enough. He wants to go teach firemen and keep them safe. That’s what he wants to do,” said a source close to the commissioner.

The Chicago Tribune has an article HERE.

Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2 President Thomas Ryan announced Hoff’s planned departure at a union meeting. Ryan told fire union members that Hoff had told him “it was time to go.”

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CFD Commissioner again at odds with city IG has an article about the City of Chicago Inspector General (IG) trying to dictate disciplinary measures within the Chicago Fire Department … again. At issue this time is a CFD battalion chief (BC) that allowed his adult son to ride-along and bunk-in. The IG wanted a 20-day suspension for the BC, while Commissioner Hoff dispensed a verbal reprimand.

The article quotes CFD Spokesman Larry Langford and a column on Huff Post Chicago by Alden Loury the publisher of The Chicago Reporter.

Introduced by the IG is an opinion that the commissioner’s stance has to do with his childhood. (from Huff Post Chicago):

In the opening scenes of the 1991 Ron Howard filmBackdraft, two young brothers are horsing around in the Chicago firehouse where their father works when an emergency call comes in. As firefighters ready their engine to answer the call, the younger brother beams when his dad asks if he wants to ride along.

The movie is loosely based on the lives of Chicago Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff and his older brother Raymond Hoff, third-generation Chicago firefighters whose father was killed fighting a fire in a South Side apartment building in 1962, according to media reports.

The film came to mind recently because Commissioner Hoff — presumably depicted as the younger brother in Backdraft who rode along with his firefighter-father — is now at the center of a controversy involving fire department “ride alongs.”

The Statter911 article can be found HERE, and the Huff Post Chicago article can be found HERE.

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CFD 3-11 Alarm Fire 12-21-11 – update

Tim Olk has submitted several images from Chicago’s 3-11 this morning on 38th Street.

Heavy fire burns through the roof of the warehouse operation on 38th Street this morning as Tower Ladder 34 is positioned. Tim Olk photo

Chicago 3-11 Alarm warehouse fire on 38th Street 12-21-11

A Level 1 Haz Mat was also initiated at this 3-11 alarm fire. Tim Olk photo

Chicago 3-11 Alarm warehouse fire on 38th Street 12-21-11

The warehouse was at the dead end of a long block. Several engines pumped in-line to supply water to companies fighting the fire. Tim Olk photo

Chicago 3-11 Alarm warehouse fire on 38th Street 12-21-11

Firefighters pull hose to supply a master stream as heavy fire takes hold of the building. Tim Olk photo

Chicago 3-11 Alarm warehouse fire on 38th Street 12-21-11

A firefighter waits for water to supply the ladder pipe. Tim Olk photo

Chicago 3-11 Alarm warehouse fire on 38th Street 12-21-11

Tower Ladder 5 was using this spare tower ladder and setup at the sector 1-4 corner of the building. Tim Olk photo

Chicago 3-11 Alarm warehouse fire on 38th Street 12-21-11

Squad 1 put the Snorkel to use as an additional master stream. Tim Olk photo

Chicago 3-11 Alarm warehouse fire on 38th Street 12-21-11

Firefighters had to cut through fencing to gain access to portions of the building. Tim Olk photo

Chicago 3-11 Alarm warehouse fire on 38th Street 12-21-11

Chicago Fire Commissioner Hoff handles a morning press briefing. Tim Olk photo

Tim has a large gallery which can be viewed HERE.


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Chicago Inspector General Attacks Fire Department Again has an article this morning about the Chicago Inspector General commenting on changes he proposes for CFD staffing. Firegeezer writes:

THE CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, INSPECTOR GENERAL Joseph Ferguson has it in his mind that he should be running the fire department, even though his office has no responsibility for it at all. In fact, he doesn’t run any department. According to the Office of Inspector General’s own website, his mission is:

…. to root out corruption, waste, and mismanagement, while promoting effectiveness and efficiency in City government. The IGO is a watchdog for the taxpayers of the City, and has jurisdiction to conduct investigations and audits into most aspects of City government. He’s an auditor. That’s it. He doesn’t manage anything (except his own office) and he doesn’t plan anything. He audits.

Well, I.G. Joe is back and telling the City Council that they should reduce staffing levels on fire engines and ladder trucks from five to four.  He told the council that the cash-strapped city could save $57 million annually if they follow his advice.

Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff fired back yesterday (Tuesday) telling the council and everybody else, in no uncertain terms, what would happen if this were done.  The Chicago Tribune reports:

Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff said Tuesday that fire-related fatalities would rise if the city reduces the number of firefighters per truck.

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Chicago Sun-Times Looks Into City Administrative Salaries

Dennis McGuire, Jr. spotted an article on the Chicago Sun-Times web site which looks into pay raises for multiple city administrators including Fire Commissioner Hoff plus a new deputy commissioner in charge of the fire prevention bureau. Aids and police officials are also highlighted. Excerpts include:

Even with 517 layoffs, $417 million in budget cuts and $220 million in higher taxes, fines and fees, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s first city budget rewards a handful of top mayoral aides.

Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff is in line for a nine percent pay raise — from $185,652 a year to $202,728.

There’s also a nine percent pay hike — to $178,740 — for the newly-appointed deputy commissioner in charge of the scandal-scarred Fire Prevention Bureau.

Hoff dumped the old deputy after firing just four of the 54 firefighters accused of padding mileage expenses to the tune of $100,000 in 2009 alone. Six other firefighters have retired and 43 others face suspensions ranging from 30 to 60 days.

While the Chicago Police Department is closing three district stations and eliminating 1,252 police vacancies, Supt. Garry McCarthy’s chief of staff will get a nearly ten percent bump — to $185,004.

The entire article is HERE.

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O’Hare Airport Disaster Drill – update

Gordon J. Nord, Jr. submitted several images depicting the Chicago Fire Department personnel at work during Saturday’s disaster drill at O’Hare.

Chicago Fire Department disaster drill at O'Hare Airport

The drill took place behind the International Terminal at O'Hare and included a portable aircraft training prop that was on fire along with several portable free standing burn devices. Gordon J. Nord, Jr. photo

Chicago Fire Department disaster drill at O'Hare Airport

ARFF 6-5-3 works to extinguish the aircraft fire behind the International Terminal. The United Airlines plane in the background was also used in the drill scenario. Gordon J. Nord, Jr. photo

Chicago Fire Department disaster drill at O'Hare Airport

Firefighters and EMS personnel put together the triage area with portable tents and colored tarps corresponding to the injury classification assigned to each victim. Gordon J. Nord, Jr. photo

Chicago Fire Department disaster drill at O'Hare Airport

Firefighters carry a patient to the triage area as they walk among an area littered with additional victims. Gordon J. Nord, Jr. photo

Chicago Fire Department disaster drill at O'Hare Airport

Firefighters bring critically injured patients to the triage section for 'red' coded victims. Gordon J. Nord, Jr. photo

Chicago Fire Department disaster drill at O'Hare Airport

Chicago Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff looks in on EMS personnel at one of the triage tents with several victims. Gordon J. Nord, Jr. photo

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9/11 Anniversary – Chicago Fire Department

9/11 Stair Climb in Chicago

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Local 2 calls out the city inspector general has an editorial HERE entitled Local 2 to I.G. – “Butt Out!” where Firegeezer outlines some history involving CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, INSPECTOR GENERAL Joseph Ferguson and his recent public outcries which go beyond the scope of his office and position. These include offering budget options to the city council which among other things called for a reduction in Chicago Fire Department manning and then recommending specific disciplinary actions for members of the CFD Fire Prevention Bureau apparently caught padding mileage summaries for usage of their own vehicles followed. Then he states that the bureau should be closed and combined with other city inspection services.

Commissioner Hoff advised Fergie that he (Hoff) will be making the decisions on what disciplinary action will be taken and to forget about putting fire inspections in the purview of plumbers and electricians.

The editorial includes a letter to the public which was sent to the media by Tom Ryan, President of the FF union Local 2.

Excerpts include:

Last October, Mr. Ferguson provided an unsolicited Budget Options Report to the City Council in the form of a press release. Included in that report was an “option” for the City to reduce staffing on fire apparatuses from five firefighters to four. His report stated that this option was based on the National Fire Protection Association’s recommendation for “a minimum of only four personnel on each fire apparatus.” What Mr. Ferguson omitted from his report was the very next sentence of the NFPA Journal interview from which the recommendation was cited: “For special service vehicles, the standard states the apparatus must be staffed with the appropriate personnel to accomplish the tasks that the company will be expected to perform in a safe manner.” Additionally, the NFPA makes it clear in the same article that the staffing standard “is currently based on a fire in a typical single-family, two-story, 2000-square-foot house without basement or exposures.” The NFPA also states that in areas with “high target hazards” such as large manufacturing districts, skyscapers, hospitals, schools, nursing homes, and special needs facilities there should be a minimum of five firefighters, and in some cases, even six. This High Target Hazard designation of course applies to virtually every one of Chicago ’s 50 wards.

This week the Inspector General’s Office leaked details of an internal report recommending the dismissal of Fire Prevention Bureau personnel to the media before a disciplinary review could be conducted by the Fire Commissioner. As such, the Inspector General may have again compromised the integrity of his report. Thankfully, Mayor Emanuel has publicly stated his expectation of the Commissioner to deal with these allegations. The Fire Prevention Bureau provides critical reports and hazard warnings for the buildings first responders are often rushing into. Their work is essential to the safety of rank-and-file firefighters specifically and to the public-at-large, and requires expert training in fire science. The IGO’s recommendation to “fold” this Bureau into the Building Department is a flagrant disregard for public safety. Furthermore, by covertly publicizing this report and recommendation, the Inspector General’s Office has effectively poured gasoline onto a fire. Hopefully these new flames will not jeopardize the abilities of the Fire Prevention Bureau in consistently and continuously executing their obligations to the fire safety of our city.

The entire letter can be found HERE.

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Article questions CFD staffing levels

Denis McGuire, Jr. found an article in the Chicago News Cooperative questioning the city’s policy of allowing the fire department to maintain current staffing levels which place companies of five per rig. Citing surveys of other large cities and the manner in which each runs their own fire department, the article sites a trend that lowers staffing to four. The article takes into consideration that fire deaths in Chicago have plummeted but counters with the overall reduction in fires. Below are excerpts from the article:

During the year that Robert Hoff became a Chicago firefighter, in 1976, 156 people died in fires in the city. By 2010, when Hoff became the department’s commissioner, that figure had plummeted to 27.

The number of fires that the department was called to put out also dropped dramatically in recent decades. What has hardly changed is the staffing level of the Chicago Fire Department, even as mayors from New York to Los Angeles are trying to combat the recession with reductions in fire protection spending.

The Chicago News Cooperative’s survey of the country’s 10 largest cities found that Chicago ranks near the top in the resources devoted to its fire department. With one firefighter for every 637 residents, Chicago has more firefighters per capita than every large United States city except for Houston, the CNC’s analysis found. And, taking into account its coverage area of about 230 square miles and more than 90 firehouses, Chicago’s department ranked third among the 10 largest cities in the density of firehouses, behind only New York and Philadelphia. (See the complete rankings)

“The decline in fire deaths and fires over the years is not reason to think about cutting back the number of firefighters or firehouses,” the fire department spokesman, Larry Langford, said in a statement this week.

Langford, the department spokesman, said the lower fire death rate is due in part to the department having “enough manpower to conduct searches while simultaneously” fighting fires and keeping flames from spreading to other buildings.

The decline in the number of fire deaths in Chicago was part of a national trend attributed to a variety of factors, including sprinkler systems, fire alarms and smoke detectors. City statistics for structure fires show a drop from almost 5,700 in 1996 to less than 2,500 in 2008.

But the number of medical calls to the fire department increased at the same time that the number of fires dropped, Langford noted.

Langford said Chicago needs larger crews because it has many apartment buildings as well as multi-story public schools and nursing homes. Even in largely residential areas of the city’s bungalow belt, Langford said, homes “are often very close together,” requiring more firefighters than the minimum standard.

He pointed to studies showing that four-person crews were only 65 percent as efficient as having five firefighters in a team. “That translates into minutes saved, which is lives and property saved,” Langford said.

The complete article and supporting data can be found HERE.

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