Posts Tagged Countryside Fire Chief Jeff Steingart

Countryside Fire Protection District news

Excerpts from

A change is coming for Countryside Fire Protection District Fire Chief Jeff Steingart, who recognized his life’s dream as a boy and stayed with it until retiring last week. Steingart, 55, started with Countryside as a paid-on-call firefighter in 1982 and was hired as a full-time firemedic in January 1986. He steadily advanced, serving as a lieutenant and fire prevention bureau director, captain and shift commander, and assistant and deputy chief before being named to the top spot in 2006.

Last week was Steingart’s last in the office. A Change in Command ceremony with a traditional fire department walk-out is scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 17, at district headquarters, 600 N. Deerpath Drive, Vernon Hills. Deputy Chief Chuck Smith will be sworn in as the new chief.

Steingart grew up in Hawthorn Woods and became a Mundelein Fire Department Explorer at 13. After graduating from Stevenson High School in 1981, he took an EMT class, worked for a private ambulance company, and then the Highwood Fire Department before joining Countryside full-time.

Countryside covers 24 square miles, including portions of Vernon Hills, Hawthorn Woods, Long Grove, Kildeer, Indian Creek and unincorporated Lake County. Activity has increased significantly since 1982 when Countryside personnel responded to 1,391 calls. Last year, the total was 4,918.

Steingart’s resume includes dozens of awards, recognitions, certifications, and affiliations. He has been a member of the MABAS (Mutual Aid Box Alarm System) Division 4 all-hazards incident management team since 2014 and president since 2016.

He is proud of Countryside’s ISO rating improving from Class 5 to just shy of Class 1, and the department’s recent reaccreditation by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International for a fifth consecutive year.

A 30-year resident of Vernon Hills, Steingart plans to stay put and will remain involved in the fire service. He’s been hired as director of strategic planning and administration for the Wauconda Fire Protection District, a part-time civilian position.

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MVA with extrication near Mundelein, 1-18-16

This from Tim Olk:

Countryside FPD pin-in accident at Rt 176 & Gilmer today (1/18/16)

tractor-trailer crushes small SUV

Tim Olk photo

firemen at accident site

Tim Olk photo

tractor-trailer crushes small SUV

Tim Olk photo

firemen at accident site

Tim Olk photo

tractor-trailer crushes small SUV

Tim Olk photo

tractor-trailer crushes small SUV

Tim Olk photo

tractor-trailer crushes small SUV

Tim Olk photo

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Mundelein eliminates fire chief position

Excerpts from the

Earlier this month, Mundelein decided not to fill its vacant fire chief position and instead promoted its police chief into a job that oversees both departments. Now officials say more government consolidation might be in the works.

Village Administrator John Lobaito said the new structure will be in place for 12 to 24 months as a trial run, while Mundelein researches options for sharing resources with neighboring municipalities. Nearby Countryside Fire Protection District has already expressed interest, according to Countryside Fire Chief Jeff Steingart.

“When everything started [with Mundelein], we opened the door to take a peek and begin a dialogue on what we can do together in the future,” Steingart said. “It’s still really early on and they’re reviewing all their options, but once things get settled in, our two leaderships will be sitting down together.”

Mundelein’s leadership change comes after more than three months without a fire chief or deputy fire chief. Tim Sashko retired April 30 when a neck injury resurfaced after eight years as fire chief. Shortly thereafter, Deputy Chief Tim Leidig took a job in West Chicago leaving Mundelein without a top fire administrator.

On Aug. 10, village trustees created a new position called public safety director to lead both the police and fire departments, and promoted Police Chief Eric Guenther into that job, essentially taking one administrator off the payroll.

“This is not necessarily the end game,” Lobaito said before trustees voted on Aug. 10. “It is intended to be in place until we decide it doesn’t work or until we find a better way.”

Battalion Chief Ben Yoder, who was doing all administrative duties the past three months, was promoted to deputy fire chief during that same Aug. 10 meeting. A series of internal promotions will yield one firefighter opening, Guenther said, but otherwise Mundelein will not add any new positions in either department.

The ordinance Mundelein approved specifically says the jobs of fire chief and police chief will not be eliminated, but rather left vacant in case trustees want to restore the old administrative system in the future.

In the meantime, Mundelein will save more than $135,000 by not replacing Sashko. According to payroll documents, Sashko’s final salary was $147,113 per year and Guenther’s new stipend is $971.66 per month. ($11,659)

Guenther’s salary as police chief is $153,340, according to payroll documents, which equates to a 7.6 percent annual raise.

Countryside already shares a lot of coverage with Mundelein’s fire department, Steingart said, and sharing more administrators wouldn’t be too complicated. The Countryside fire station along Midlothian Road is actually in Mundelein, although the fire district is not responsible for the surrounding Mundelein homes and shopping centers.

Countryside is an independent taxing body that provides fire services to approximately 35,000 residents in a 24-square-mile zone including parts of Vernon Hills, Lincolnshire, Long Grove, Hawthorn Woods, Indian Creek, Kildeer and unincorporated areas.

In the mid-1990s, when Mundelein’s boundaries inched closer to Countryside’s Midlothian Road fire station, representatives from both groups made an agreement, Steingart said: Countryside would help Mundelein along Midlothian Road and Mundelein would help Countryside along Route 45.

“I think we can work toward full consolidation, and not just Mundelein and Countryside, but other agencies too,” Steingart said. “That’s a long haul because there are a lot of moving pieces involved, such as needing to go to voters. But we all want to save lives and many of us help each other already.”

Consolidation is already moving forward in the dispatch area, Steingart pointed out. For several years, the Vernon Hills police department has operated a dispatch center that also coordinates Countryside, Lincolnshire police and Libertyville police and fire services.

That arrangement allows each municipality to reduce costs, while improving communication when issues arise, Steingart said, and a study is underway to see if an even bigger merger can occur. Further consolidation would allow for better prices by buying in bulk, expanding lower level jobs in a reorganization and improving service all without raising taxes.

Vernon Hills Police Chief Mark Fleischhauer, who is responsible for the dispatch center, expanded upon that subject during a July 7 village board meeting. He said the Lake County Emergency Telephone System Board is beginning a $350,000 study on the possibility of having one countywide dispatch center.

The Emergency Telephone System Board also contributed $2 million in August 2014 toward a new series of radio towers in Lake County that are owned by Illinois but designed and operated by Motorola, according to Lake County Board minutes. Lake County fronted the other $7 million to install the new technology, according to meeting minutes, because the radios used by sheriffs and public works crews are becoming obsolete.

Once those towers are in place, anyone with the new handheld radios and new dispatch center equipment can use the network, according to Lt. Mike Gregory of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

The Vernon Hills dispatch center is doing just that.

On July 7, Fleischhauer convinced Vernon Hills trustees to support the study for a consolidated county dispatch center and approve spending to switch the current dispatch center onto the Motorola network.

Previously, Vernon Hills used a small series of radio towers owned and maintained by a few local municipalities. Now, the cost for a radio network is being split between state agencies and a growing number of participating municipalities throughout Illinois.

Fleischhauer said if a countywide dispatch center is built, then crews in Vernon Hills, Lincolnshire, Libertyville and Countryside will already have the radios.

Mundelein police and fire services are not part of the consolidated dispatch center in Vernon Hills, and Mundelein officials say they’re still researching their options when it comes to radio networks.

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