Posts Tagged East Peoria Fire Department

East Peoria Fire Department news

Excerpts from the Peoria-Journa

The East Peoria City Council on Tuesday narrowly approved a 5-year firefighter contract by a 3-2 vote. The deciding vote was cast by Commissioner Dan Decker, who is also an Assistant Fire Chief of the East Peoria Fire Department.

Decker said he believed he was legally able to vote on the contract and did so to preclude the potential cost of arbitration. “It would have been much easier to abstain,” Decker said after the vote. “But if there had been a deadlock (vote) it would have gone to arbitration and that would have been extremely costly to the city. (Besides) nothing in the contract affects me.”

Commissioner Mike Sutherland, who voted against the contract, challenged Decker’s vote. “I have a problem with a fireman (voting on the contract),” Sutherland said after the vote. “I don’t know if I can, but I’m going to legally challenge the vote and take it as far as I can go. I don’t know (if Decker’s vote) was morally correct or legally correct.”

State law exempts firefighters from laws banning most public employees from holding public office.

The contract provides salary increases of 1.5 percent the first year; 1.75 percent in years two and three; 2 percent in the fourth year; and, 2.25 percent in the final year in 2024. It is retroactive to May 1, 2019, the date the previous contract expired. That makes the average annual salary increase over the course of the contract 1.85 percent, or slightly higher than the 1.75 percent increase given to other public employees in the city.

Commissioner Seth Mingus, who oversees the fire department operation and negotiated the contract for the city, defended Decker’s vote. “Commissioner Decker was acting in the best interest of the city, and citizens should be appreciative of that,” Mingus said.

Now in his fourth term, Decker has in years past frequently abstained from voting on firefighter issues, particularly contract deals. Until this year, Decker had been a member of the firefighter’s union, but left when he was promoted to management as an assistant chief.

Sutherland said he opposed the contract because it did not include a residency requirement for firefighters. The mayor opposed it because of a sick time buy-back program that he believed could end up costing the city money.

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East Peoria Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

East Peoria Fire Chief John Knapp expertly pitched the need for a new fire truck at this week’s city council meeting. What he got in return was not the familiar response the fire department is more accustomed to. The council said no.

The council voted 3-2 to deny the request to spend $340,000 for a new demo fire truck, rather than pay upward of $200,000 to repair two old ones. Commissioners Mark Hill and Mike Sutherland voted against the purchase. Commissioner Seth Mingus, who’s role on the council is to oversee the operations of the fire department, and Dan Decker who is both a commissioner and an assistant chief on the East Peoria Fire Department, supported the purchase of the fire truck. The mayor expressed his doubts before casting the deciding vote.

A budgeted and approved plan to repair the prematurely rusted frames of two front line trucks changed recently when a new option to buy a discounted fire truck was offered by Pierce Manufacturing. Instead of repairing two old trucks — a 2000 and a 1996 —to be used as necessary back-ups, Pierce offered a 2019 demo at a cost of $380,000, paid over two years. Fire trucks typically cost around $550,000. And while the new truck would solve the problem of repairing the old ones at a cost of around $200,000 and fill all front-line and back-up slots in the department’s fleet with reliable vehicles, it would cost the city more than the old solution.

The ensuing debate was illuminating. Simplified, the disagreement narrowed to a fight between between the fiscally responsible and the staunch advocates for public safety. It went south from there. One commissioner tied his potential support of the demo fire truck to the result of on-going contract negotiations with the city’s firefighter union. Linking the contract to the purchase of a fire truck rankled another.



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East Peoria Fire Department news

Excerpts from

The East Peoria public safety communications and dispatch center dispatched its final call on May 20. Since then, all 911 calls that originate in East Peoria have been handled by the dispatch center in Morton. The switch-over was the culmination of a 2015 state mandate that all Illinois counties with a population of less than 250,000 that have a single Emergency Telephone System Board and more than two dispatch centers to reduce that number by half. Tazewell County met all the criteria and that meant that four county dispatch centers would be reduced to two. East Peoria and Washington would close and move all dispatch operations for those two cities, and every smaller law enforcement department and fire protection department and district in the jurisdiction to the beefed-up center in Morton.

The space in the front of East Peoria’s Public Safety building that was occupied 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year by the 12-person, three-shift staff of dispatchers, is now home to two records clerks who work regular business hours only on weekdays. They can answer walk-up questions if they are around, but it’s not their job to be the public’s link to law enforcement.

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New ambulance in East Peoria

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The East Peoria Fire Department purchased a refurbished ambulance. The vehicle was purchased from Arrow Ambulance, a company in Rock Rapids, Iowa, that specializes in refurbishing used ambulances.

“They strip it down to the walls, and rebuild it piece by piece,” Fire Chief Al Servis said recently. “You can’t even see the difference from a new ambulance.”

“The chassis is new, but the box on back is completely refurbished that looks like it is brand new, never used before,” Assistant Chief Richard Ward said Wednesday. “It’s a great way to save some money.”

The ambulance was delivered earlier this month, inspected by the state and pressed into service at the department’s Central House on West Washington Street.

Assistant Chief Ryan Beck picked out a box last year and Arrow has been working to refurbish and attach it to the new chassis. The total cost of the ambulance, to be paid off over two years, was $214,323, a price that includes $10,000 in radios that would have been paid whether the city bought a new or refurbished ambulance. The approximate savings was $40,000. The city budgeted $230,000 for a new ambulance.

The purchase of the used ambulance could be a precedent.

“It was a very wise decision that enabled us to not only benefit from a cost savings on this particular one but lays the groundwork to do the same over the next several in future years to come,” Commissioner John Kahl said. “The finished product is impressive and you would believe it to be brand new.”

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East Peoria Fire Department news

Excerpts from

It’s hard to find evidence, when most of it is burnt to a crisp, but an investigator with the East Peoria Fire Department persevered, solving an open case from 2012 and receiving the State Arson Award on Tuesday.

It was in 2012 that a fire was set at a couple’s home in East Peoria. After the fire was out, Eric Duckworth worked to determine it was arson.

An investigation was launched and a suspect named Steven Gill was found. Duckworth testified for two hours in front of a grand jury and Gill received a 12-year sentence in Aug. of last year.

Duckworth said they don’t always have this kind of a clear-cut victory.

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East Peoria Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

The East Peoria Fire Department now has four certified arson investigators on its staff; that’s twice the number of the Peoria Fire Department, a department five times its size.

“We’re happy to have our newest certified arson investigator and are comfortable with the staffing (number),” East Peoria Fire Chief Al Servis said Thursday. “It allows us to have an arson investigator on every shift.”

According to Assistant Chief John Knapp, the East Peoria Fire Department investigated 30 to 40 fires in 2015. Of those, 25-30 percent, or about nine or 10 fires, were suspected arson.

Firefighter Eric Duckworth completed the five-week Southwestern Illinois Police Academy’s Basic Arson Investigator Course at the Downers Grove Fire Department last week.

On July 5, the Peoria City Council will vote on a resolution classifying Duckworth as a peace officer for arson investigations. The designation gives Duckworth the same powers of arrest and search and seizure as a police officer, and authorizes him to carry a firearm while investigating arson or arson-related crimes. The tuition includes the 40-hour mandatory firearms training and certification.

“Illinois law allows local agencies to have arson investigators that are sworn peace officers. Their powers as a peace officer are restricted to when they are in the process of an active arson investigation,” said Jacquelyn Reineke, spokeswoman for the State Fire Marshal’s Office. “They cannot make traffic stops or any other police action outside of the scope of an arson investigation.”

Duckworth has been a member of the East Peoria Fire Department for 16 years and a fire investigator for seven years.

The department’s three other arson investigators — assistant chiefs Knapp and Rick Ward and firefighter Mike Menssen — are also designated peace officers. A fifth member of the department, Firefighter Tony Piraino, is a fire investigator, a designation and position that lacks the policing authority to carry a gun and arrest people.

In February, the city bestowed peace officer designation on one of its code enforcement officers, believed to be the first of its kind in Illinois. Like the arson investigator, the designation allows the code enforcement officer to arrest people and carry a firearm while on duty. The code officer was a retired East Peoria police officer and had already completed the firearms certification. City officials said at the time that it was a unique situation, and that the city wasn’t going to start sending or paying for its code enforcement officers to attend firearms training.

The Peoria Fire Department has two fire investigators and two fire inspectors. The department has more than 200 sworn firefighters and responded to more than 19,000 emergency calls last year. The East Peoria Fire Department has about 40 firefighters and responded to 3,737 calls in 2015.

thanks Dan

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East Peoria Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

When moving to a community, people often look at education, taxes and amenities that a city offers. One amenity that people may not be aware of in East Peoria is that the cardiac arrest survival rate is twice the national average, due to the efforts and training of the East Peoria Fire Department.

City Commissioner John Kahl, who is over public health and safety, presented a report about the fire department with statistics compiled by Fire Chief Al Servis. 

“I don’t know of any other community south of I-80 that has that [survival rate],” he said. 

The night before Kahl gave this presentation, his fellow city commissioner Dan Decker, who is an East Peoria firefighter, was involved in saving a life.  “Commissioner Decker was on duty last night and once again, they revived one of our citizens that was in full cardiac arrest,” Kahl said.

The fire department consists of 45 members with a total budget of $5.6 million for 2015-16. Under Servis, there are three assistant fire chiefs who have dual roles. One serves as a fire marshal, one oversees fire training and operations, and the other  is the EMS coordinator. Each shift has three lieutenants and 13 firefighters. 

“Not only has [Chief Servis] done an outstanding job to date, he is our first paramedic fire chief” Kahl said.

On Sept. 1, other history was made as the first female company officer, Veronica Marmitt was promoted to lieutenant. 

In 2015, the fire department had 3,737 calls and 9,231 responses. Of the 3,737 calls, 2,640 were emergency/medical and 77 were fires. The call volume in 2015 increased 11.5 percent over 2014.

The East Peoria Fire Department is unique in central Illinois, Kahl said, because everyone is advanced life support certified.

In 2015, there were 28 structure fires. The fire department responded: 71 percent of the time in under 5 minutes; 82 percent of the time in under 6 minutes; and 98 percent of the time in under 8 minutes.

The total value of the buildings that caught fire in 2015 was $690,000. Of that amount, $155,000 was considered a loss.

The fire department offers free instruction in CPR, with over 300 students trained in 2015.

“We had 850 business inspections by company officers and that’s going to be tied into one of the goals this year … a need to integrate code enforcement and inspections. We actually have over 1,500 businesses here in East Peoria, and as we continue to grow there’s a real need to change the way we do business from a life safety standpoint,” Kahl said.


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New fire chief in East Peoria

Excerpts from the

City officials in East Peoria have selected a paramedic to be the next fire chief.

Al Servis, currently a lieutenant paramedic in the East Peoria Fire Department, has been selected from a field of five candidates. He will be sworn in to his new position during a ceremony Sept. 1 at the East Peoria Civic Plaza and replaces former Chief Bill Darin, who retired June 30, and.

Servis has been a member of the East Peoria Fire Department for 22 years, being hired on Oct. 1, 1992. He will be the department’s first fire chief who is a licensed paramedic. He also was the first lieutenant and first assistant chief to attain paramedic certification and served as the emergency medical service training officer for 10 years.

Servis is a U.S. Air Force veteran, having served as a fire protection specialist from 1985 to 1989. He received his associate degree in fire science from Illinois Central College and has 100 hours of college credit toward his bachelor’s degree, which he intends to complete in the spring of 2016.

“The East Peoria Fire Department is held as the premier fire and emergency medical service in the area,” Servis said in a prepared statement. “The Peoria Emergency Medical Services office has praised our department for years and has used us as a standard for other agencies to follow. The dedicated men and women of this department are some of the best I have worked with both in fire and EMS over the past 30 years.”

Also promoted was Veronica Marmitt to the permanent position of lieutenant. She will be East Peoria’s first female officer.

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