Posts Tagged Elgin Fire Department

Elgin Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

60-year-old Alan Butt has no memory of collapsing on the ice during a recreational hockey league game. All he knows is what he was told when he woke up in the emergency room: His heart stopped and Adam Subleski, an off-duty Elgin firefighter on the opposing team saved his life.

They were playing Dec. 15 in Crystal Lake when Butt slumped face down on the ice. Subleski said his training kicked in immediately.¬†He skated over and, with the assistance of others, rolled Butt over, removed his goalie pads and started CPR. A member of Butt’s team grabbed an automated external defibrillator, which Subleski used to help revive the man while continuing CPR until the paramedics arrived. Without the AED, Butt wouldn’t be alive today, Subleski said.

Butt recently presented Subleski with an Elgin Fire Department Merit Award.

thanks Dan

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New ambulance for Elgin

From the Fire Service, Inc. Facebook page:

Congratulations and thank you to the City of Elgin, IL Fire Department on their order of a new 2018 Wheeled Coach F450 4×4 Type 1 ambulance!. Cool Bar HVAC system, Liquid Spring suspension, Knox Med Vault, and Whelen LED warning systems are some of the features Elgin specifies to benefit their community and membership. We thank Elgin again for their continued confidence in Fire Service, Inc. and Wheeled Coach. Look for delivery in approximately 90 -120 days!

new ambulance on order for Elgin

new ambulance on order for Elgin

drawing of new ambulance for the Elgin Fire Department

new ambulance on order for Elgin

thanks Ron

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Elgin Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from the

An engine ran out of water before a second engine crew was able to re-establish a water supply to fight a fatal fire in Elgin this year. Elgin Fire Chief David Schmidt said that, according to radio communications, firefighters at the scene were without water for 77 seconds while trying to extinguish the blaze in a mobile home in which a 63-year-old man died.

 “There are multiple variables happening on each and every call that affect the outcome of an incident,” Schmidt said.

Department guidelines recommend the first engine use the water it carries, and when the second engine arrives, it connects a line from a hydrant to the first engine, creating a continuous flow of water, Schmidt said.

According to Elgin Fire Department documents, a neighbor called in the fire just before 6:42 p.m. Jan. 21. Records state it took 77 seconds from dispatch for Engine 5 to bring a crew of three to the burning home along the 400 block of Sadler Avenue. The dispatcher also sent an ambulance from Station 5, a truck and battalion chief from Station 1, and engines from Stations 4 and 2. The second engine arrived 7 minutes, 29 seconds after the dispatch.

Both Schmidt and Joe Galli, president of Elgin Association of Firefighters Union IAFF Local 439, said it is unusual for an engine to run out of water before a second source has been established. Galli told Elgin city officials this month that recent shift staffing cuts contributed to a delay in response to the incident.

Ken Willette of the National Fire Protection Agency said it sounds like the department followed accepted protocols in attacking the fire. He also said mobile homes are some of the worst fires to attack because of their construction materials.

After that first engine arrived, its three firefighters attached a hose to the engine and began putting water on the blaze. The two-man crew from Ambulance 5, the second unit on the scene, attached a second hose to the engine.

The reports note that when firefighters from Station 1 arrived, they assumed they were going to be responding in Engine 1, but CAD/Communications dispatched Truck 1. Truck 1’s firefighters were assigned to enter and search the home with Ambulance 5 firefighters as Engine 5 firefighters worked to extinguish the fire underneath the home and around the entrances.

“Because this was early in the new deployment, it appears there was a little uncertainty on the apparatus recommendation,” Schmidt said. “Our philosophy for the deployment change was to get two engines and one truck on the scene as quickly as possible.”

Firefighters ran out of water, though the fire continued to burn under the home and through the floor, vents and a wall, the report states, and that delayed crews from entering the building.

When Engine 4 arrived, some of its crew worked to connect a hose to a hydrant at Olive Street and Sadler. Engine 4 crew members also assisted in putting out the fire underneath the mobile home after the water was connected.

“There is no way of telling if the resident would have survived had we been given the opportunity to get inside sooner. Running out of water stalled the rescue effort,” Galli said.

Schmidt said Station 6 on West Chicago Street normally would have sent the second engine, but that crew was responding to a medical call. That put Engine 4 from the firehouse near Elgin Community College next in line to respond.

The fire was declared under control 13 minutes, 10 seconds after the 911 call.

Galli said the $700,000 cut to the department’s budget affected how events played out that night. Schmidt disagreed and said Galli was politicizing the death.

“Safety remains a top priority of the city, not only for the community but for our firefighter personnel as well. The city is and remains safe, and to suggest otherwise is misleading,” Schmidt said.

While the National Fire Protection Agency recommends four-man crews on a fire engine, having three on an engine and two in an ambulance is acceptable, based on the organization’s “1710” standard. Elgin also arrived well within the agency’s standards, he said.

“The first arriving engine and ambulance is making the determination to go with an aggressive attack with two hose lines. … They were addressing it as taught at the national fire academy,” Willette said. “The first thing is life, the second thing is incident stabilization, and the third is property conservation.”

The first engine on the scene could have chosen to immediately attach to the hydrant, but Willette noted that making that choice when another engine is en route is hard to make.

“The fact of the matter is we responded quicker to the incident on Sadler Avenue than the industry guidelines provide for an effective response force,” Schmidt said.

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New engine for Elgin

From the Fire Service, Inc. Facebook page:

Final Inspection at E-ONE with the Elgin Fire Department for their new Engine 2.

thanks Danny

new fire engine for the Elgin Fire Department

Fire Service, Inc. photo

new fire engine for the Elgin Fire Departmentnew fire engine for the Elgin Fire Department

Fire Service, Inc. photo

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Elgin Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

The Elgin fire union president says overtime staffing cuts caused a delayed response and gap in water supply to a fire in which a 63-year-man died last month.

David Moncatch died Jan. 21 when heating tape caused a fire at his trailer home on the 400 block of Sadler Avenue. Officials at first said Moncatch died of smoke inhalation, but an autopsy showed he died of a heart attack, International Association of Firefighters Local 439 President Joe Galli said. Moncatch was found in the kitchen, apparently trying to get a fire extinguisher. Two dogs also died.

Fire Chief Dave Schmidt defended the department’s response, saying the first engine arrived two minutes after the call, and 15 firefighters arrived within eight minutes of travel time, the standard set by the National Fire Protection Association. A total of 23 firefighters responded.

At the center of the dispute is how long it took the second engine to arrive and hook up to the hydrant about 150 feet from Moncatch’s home. When the second engine arrived, nearly nine minutes after the initial call, the first engine had run out of water — the first time in recent memory that’s happened, Galli and Schmidt agreed.

The radio recording shows a one-minute gap between firefighters reporting they were out of water and saying water was beginning to pump from the hydrant. Galli said firefighters told him the actual gap was longer. “We are in a business where seconds count,” he said. Firefighters were about to enter the trailer when the water ran out, so they opted to enter after they had water.

The staffing cut enacted Jan. 11 means there are 31 firefighters — two fewer than last year — and a battalion chief on duty at all times across the city’s seven fire stations.

A structure fire calls for three engines, one ladder truck, one ambulance, and more vehicles based on the severity of the fire. The first engine arrived from Station 5 at 804 Villa St. and started fighting the fire. Moncatch’s home is behind the station.

Before the staffing cut, the second engine and ladder truck — if not on another call — would have come from Station 1 at 550 Summit St., two miles away. The staffing cut, however, makes it so crews there jump between the engine or truck. The truck Jan. 21 came from Summit Street, and the second engine came from Station 4 at 599 S. McLean Blvd., nearly four miles away, because the next-closest engine at Station 6 was out on a call.

If the second engine had come from Summit Street, it would have arrived in time to have a continuous water supply, Galli said. “We weren’t able to send the closest engine because of our staffing model. And because of that, we will never know what could have been.”

Firefighting entails juggling the unpredictability of calls, such as the one the engine from Station 6 was on when the fire at Moncatch’s home took place, Schmidt said. “It’s not an exact science, because in any given day, in excess of 50 percent of the time we are running multiple calls,” he said.

Schmidt also pointed out the ladder truck from Summit Street arrived just one minute before the second engine. The second engine that day “was still close enough. It was a respectable response time,” he said.

The cuts are estimated to save $750,000 per year. The union argued the cut would affect the safety of firefighters and residents, and the matter is expected to be decided in arbitration.

thanks Dan

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Fatal fire in Elgin, 1-21-18

Excerpts from the

Elgin firefighters called to a home in the 400 block of Sadler Avenue about 6:40 p.m. Sunday found heavy smoke upon arrival. Initial reports indicated two people were in the mobile home but it was determined the second resident was not home at the time.

A man found by firefighters searching the house  was transported to Presence St. Joseph Hospital in Elgin, where he was pronounced dead. The Kane County Coroner’s Office is investigating the death. Two dogs perished in the fire.

The fire was ruled accidental after officials determined that heat tape being used to prevent pipes from freezing overheated. Elgin fire investigators received assistance from investigators from the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Damage to the mobile home was estimated at $30,000, with additional losses to personal property.

thanks Dan

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Elgin Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from the

Elgin Fire Department shift staffing cuts took effect Thursday following a court ruling against the Elgin Association of Firefighters Local 439, which claimed the changes would put first-responders firefighters at risk of injury.

Judge David Akemann issued an order ruling in the city’s favor late Wednesday afternoon. The ruling denies the 130-member fire union’s motion for a preliminary injunction regarding the shift staffing changes, which were the result of cuts to the city’s 2018 budget. Akemann also canceled a court hearing on the matter scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

In the complaint, the union argued, “If the city reduces shift staffing, the union predicts that the number of injuries will increase significantly,” and Akemann wrote that the union had not shown irreparable injury that would necessitate the intervention of this Court.

The lawsuit followed the Elgin City Council’s Dec. 20 approval of a $259 million budget. The budget includes $700,000 in cuts to fire department overtime by reducing two positions per shift. 

The union filed its case Dec. 22 and staffing levels remained as they were until Thursday. Elgin uses a staffing model that relies on overtime to fill fire department shifts to limit costs such as insurance and pension benefits.

Galli said that firefighters will be learning how to adapt to the changes as they go along.

thanks Dan

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Elgin Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

The Elgin Fire Department will be purchasing two mobile laptop computers to be used in the command center and in vehicles thanks to a grant from Illinois American Water (IAW). The IAW 2017 Firefighter Grant Program provides financial assistance to fire and emergency organizations serving communities in its service areas.

This year, approximately $75,000 will be awarded to 78 Illinois fire departments. Since the program was created in 2010, over 425 grants totaling over $417,000 has been awarded.

Illinois American Water’s Firefighter Grant Program awards grants to provide personal protective gear, communications equipment, firefighting tools, water handling equipment, training materials and classroom programs.

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Elgin Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from the

Elgin Association of Firefighters Local 439 has filed a grievance with the city and a lawsuit in Kane County to stop the city from cutting staffing levels until an arbitrator makes a decision.

The firefighters union says decreasing staffing from 34 to 32 firefighters per shift — a move approved by the city council to save $700,000 in overtime costs starting in 2018 — would cause irreparable harm to firefighters and pose significant risk to residents.

City officials dispute that, saying the proposed cut is all about efficiency.

The union filed the grievance Dec. 21. As per its contract, grievances first are filed with an assistant fire chief. The union then can appeal a negative response to the fire chief, then to the city manager, and then take it to arbitration.

The union also filed a lawsuit and emergency motion for a temporary restraining order on Dec. 22 in Kane County seeking to maintain staffing levels until the issue is decided in arbitration. The city agreed Tuesday in court to wait until Jan. 3, when the matter will be heard by a judge.

The cut would reduce on-shift staffing to 33 firefighters and a battalion chief across seven fire stations, with no layoffs. Stations 1 and 2 would go from six to five firefighters per shift, with a change in how jump companies operate.

Crews at those two fire stations currently jump between an ambulance and ladder truck depending on the call. Under the change, two firefighters would staff an ambulance and three would jump into either an engine or truck.

That would increase by two the ambulances available full-time. The fire service has changed and roughly 75 percent of calls are for ambulance services, Fire Chief Dave Schmidt said earlier this month.

Union officials claim data shows firefighters’ injuries have increased since 2005, when the department switched to a high-overtime model. Data verified from the city’s risk management department shows that is not true, and that the discrepancy is due to methodology and will be addressed moving forward.

thanks Dan

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Elgin Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from an opinion piece at

Elgin City Councilman Rich Dunne, a former fire marshall, earlier this month argued against a proposed cut of $700,000 from the fire department budget. While he lost that vote 7-2, the mayor agreed that more discussion is needed on how to fund the department.

The cut, which would not involve the layoff of any firefighters but would come from overtime, was necessary, the mayor said, and part of an effort to realign the staffing of our fire department to meet the current needs of the community, which show that over 80 percent of our calls for service are now for ambulances.

“The changes in staffing are consistent with the results of the recent community survey and the desire for prompt ambulance service. The residents should not see a significant reduction in service,” he said.

The city council’s decision to go with the reduction of overtime is in keeping with the need to cut expenses for the city. Yet, the mayor is asking for further discussion about fire department funding, saying the cut is not a good fix.

“We will continue to meet the needs of the community in the future by providing state of the art equipment, training and adequate staffing to make certain our residents receive the highest quality service available,’ the mayor said.

The concerns expressed by Dunne are valid. With the firefighters’ contract ending Dec. 31, there’s a need for more consideration of the issues.

It will be important for the city council to come up with a plan that will address all funding issues of the fire department that do not negatively affect the safety of residents. It is imperative that public discussions take place to insure the best possible fire protection services in Elgin.

thanks Dan

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