Posts Tagged Evanston Fire Department

Evanston Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from the

Evanston Fire Station 4 will remain open following the approval of the city’s 2019 operating budget, ensuring service levels and response times will be maintained at the current standard. Aldermen voted 6-3 to approve the city’s 2019 operating budget at a Nov. 19 council meeting, granting the city more than $319 million for the next year. The budget, which seeks to fill a projected $7.4 million deficit, was released at the beginning of October and includes a number of expense reductions and revenue increases.

The closure of the station was included in the city’s first draft of its budget which estimated a $1.2 million cut to EFD. The cut would have eliminated nine staff positions, the proposed station closure and the resulting elimination of its fire engine. Station 4 — located at 1817 Washington St. — is in the 2nd Ward and services the southwest region of Evanston.

Now, the department will hold some vacancies open and cut parts of its community engagement programming for the next fiscal year.

During a Nov. 5 council meeting, aldermen overwhelmingly opposed the possible station closure, referring to increased response times and also pointing out the fact that many residents rely on firefighters for medical care.

EFD’s call volume has increased by 51 percent over the past 35 years, and is expected to increase by 2 percent per year moving forward.

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Box alarm fire in Evanston, 11-26-18

Excerpts from the

Evanston firefighters responded about 6:49 a.m. Monday to a single-family home in the 1100 block of South Boulevard and found heavy smoke and moderate fire conditions in the front of the building. Firefighters entered the home and put out the fire within 30 minutes. Three firefighters suffered minor injuries. Investigators say the fire was caused by candles used for Christmas decorations.

house fire in Evanston

Evanston FD photo

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Evanston Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

For the past 16 years Evanston Firefighters Association IAFF Local 742 has funded a Thanksgiving charity event to provide all the ingredients for a Thanksgiving dinner for 12 Evanston families in need.

On Saturday, volunteers put rolls, boxed stuffing, cranberry sauce, veggies, a turkey, pie, and other edibles in 12 separate plastic containers and dropped them off to Family Focus social service agency in Evanston, which will deliver them to the families before Thanksgiving.

The idea for the Thanksgiving charity event started 16 years ago when some firefighters decided to piggyback on another giveaway where they collected toys to give to kids at Christmas. Thanksgiving and Christmas events are about the union and firefighters giving back to the Evanston community they serve.

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New ambulance for Evanston

From the Foster Coach Sales website:

new Evanston FD ambulance

Foster Coach Sales photo

thanks Martin and Ron

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Evanston Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from the

Evanston aldermen signaled on Monday that they will not approve a proposal to eliminate nine firefighter positions and close and sell one of the city’s five fire stations in an effort to balance the 2019 budget. Aldermen said they see the importance of not reducing the fire department.

However, they did ask Fire Chief Brian Scott to think long-term about how the department could reduce costs, as city coffers are not expected to increase significantly anytime soon. The fire department expenses make up 22 percent of the Evanston budget’s general fund.

The fire department responded to 90 fires in 2017. About 65 percent of calls for service required a paramedic response. Almost all of Evanston’s firefighters are trained as paramedics, and all fire engines are ALS equipped. About 45 percent of calls occurred at the same time as another call in town, so engines regularly shuffle around the city to make sure all neighborhoods are covered in case of an emergency.

Since the early 1980s, “the department has lost staffing by 10 percent, call volume continues to increase and firefighters are asked to do more and more with the same amount of resources or even less,” Scott said.

Many of the calls for medical help come from repeat patients who don’t have insurance and depend on paramedics for care. The department is working with Presence St. Francis Hospital in Evanston to identify those people and get them into programs that could help them. Ideally that would ease the demand on the department and save taxpayers money.

The city council discussion comes as Evanston expects to face a $7.4 million deficit in the proposed $110 million spending plan for 2019. The anticipated shortfall comes from a $4.9 million shortage in the general fund, $1 million for bond payments for construction of the new Robert Crown Community Center and $1.5 million needed in the reserve fund, according to the budget proposal.

The reserve fund, which ideally should have 16.6 percent of the city’s annual operating expenses, ended 2017 at 12.8 percent. Aldermen are expected to vote on the 2019 budget later this month. The city’s new fiscal and budget year starts Jan. 1.

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Evanston Fire Department news

Excerpts from

Evanston’s firefighters responded to twice as many calls during the daytime hours than they do at night, but the city’s 24-hour duty schedule for firefighters means staffing doesn’t vary with the predictable shift in demand. While police officers in Evanston work eight-hour shifts, permitting variation in staffing during different day parts, the 24-hour schedule for firefighters precludes that option. That scheduling pattern for the fire service is very common across the country, although a variety of other schedules, including eight and 12 hour shifts and split 10 and 14 hour shifts are also in use.

Calls for service data provided by Fire Chief Brian Scott show that the number of calls for Evanston’s five fire engines, two trucks, and two ambulances range from a low of one call every two hours in the pre-dawn darkness to more than one-and-a-half calls per hour at mid-day. Roughly two out of every three calls are ambulance runs.In addition to an ambulance, a fire engine is dispatched for every ambulance call.

Evanston Fire Department average hourly call volume

Some reports have raised questions about the health and safety impact of working 24-hour long shifts. And reports are mixed about which pattern is most efficient from a scheduling and overtimestandpoint.

Fire department data shows that Evanston’s ambulances are by far the most heavily used vehicles in the Evanston fire fleet. Ambulance 21 is on calls nearly 29 percent of the time, while Truck 23 is in use less than 7 percent of the time.

Evanston Fire Department unit utilization summary

The Glenview Fire Department has come up with a partial solution to the varying level of demand across different day parts. It runs two ambulances 24-hours a day and staffs a third ambulance for 12 hours each day — from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Glenview’s department serves a population of about 60,000 people in the village and adjacent unincorporated areas with four engines and one truck in addition to its ambulances.

Evanston’s Chief Scott says a third ambulance would help reduce call volume for the existing two ambulances which are extremely busy, but he says given the current budget deficit it would be extremely difficult to fund the addition of even 12 more hours of ambulance service.

The city manager has proposed closing Fire Station 4, which would eliminate the jobs of nine firefighters. If instead of closing the station, which now houses an engine, an ambulance operating for 12 hours a day were stationed there, it would make it possible to reduce the impact of the loss of the engine on service levels while still eliminating six of the nine firefighter jobs proposed to be cut.

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Evanston Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from the

In his proposed 2019 City budget, City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz would close Fire Station 4, 1817 Washington St. Not only is this station Evanston’s smallest station, it is the only one serving the southwest side of the city. Closing the station would entail laying off one firefighter/paramedic and re-assigning the other firefighters/paramedics to other stations.

He said in a press briefing on Oct. 4 he felt closing the station was justified because it is the smallest one and other fire stations could cover the calls and since there is no ambulance at that station, the overall impact of the service cuts would be less than if another station were closed.

The fire chief and the firefighters union, Local 742, apparently could not disagree more. Closing a fire station would increase response times, thereby increasing both the risk of injury and death to victims and firefighters and the likelihood of property damage.

Fire Chief Brian Scott said he holds the safety of the community as his highest priority and although he understands the need for a rigorous review of all city departments in a budgetary squeeze, he is opposed to cutting any safety services to Evanston residents.

Closing Station 4 would increase the response times not only to the homes and businesses in southwest Evanston by more than 50% but would also generally increase times to structures in other parts of the city, if a call came to a station where the units were deployed elsewhere.

There are five fire stations in Evanston’s eight square miles: two on Central Street, one on Emerson Street, one on Madison Street and one on Washington Street.  All five stations are equipped with an engine company; two also have truck companies, and two have ambulances. All units are equipped with advanced life-safety equipment and the firefighters are also trained paramedics.

As the busiest fire department on the North Shore, the Evanston handles more than 10,000 calls each year – about 45% of which are concurrent with other calls. Judging by the past few years, Chief Scott expects that number will increase by about 2% each year.

Effective Oct. 1, the Evanston Fire Department has a Class 1 rating from the Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO) for fire protection services. The ranking puts Evanston in the top 1% of the more than 47,000 fire departments across the nation ISO has evaluated.

Evanston’s mix of single-family homes, commercial structures and high-rises pose a mix of hazards, according to NFPA 1710 – low for single-family homes, medium for commercial structures and high for high-rises. The minimum daily staffing for low-hazard structures is 15, 28 for medium-hazards, and 43 for high-hazard.

The average response time for the Evanston Fire Department is three minutes, 15 seconds – 45 critical seconds below the four-minute response time of the NFPA 1710.

Response time is critical in both fire and life-safety emergencies. Many home and commercial furnishings are petro-chemically based, so they are more combustible and burn hotter than flammable materials in the past. At a certain point – generally in eight to 10 minutes – a fire will flashover. It is vital that firefighters apply water before flashover to save lives and minimize property damage.

Because all Evanston fire trucks are equipped with advanced life-safety equipment and cross-trained paramedics, the fact that there is no ambulance at Fire Station 4 does not necessarily mean that residents and businesses in the area are short-changed in medical emergencies. Dispatched to a 911 EMS call, firefighters can begin life-saving procedures while an ambulance is on its way. 

Although Southwest Evanston is near both the Chicago and Skokie borders, it is not reasonable to rely on firefighters in either of those communities to respond immediately to an emergency in Evanston. Fire companies in neighboring communities can help in a multi-alarm fire, but each department is responsible first to the residents of its own community.

Firefighters and the chief are holding firm against the closing of Fire Station 4. Many residents here are similarly opposed to closing the station and cutting services.

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Evanston Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from the

A $1.2 million cut to the Evanston Fire Department in the city’s proposed 2019 budget would mean eliminating nine positions and shutting down Station 4, which has led to pushback from current and former EFD personnel as well as city residents. The suggested reduction is the largest for any city department and follows a 2018 budget cut of $288,762 for EFD.

Station 4 — located at 1817 Washington St. — is in the 2nd Ward and services the southwest region of Evanston. The city manager said if city council approves the proposed budget in November, the building that houses Station 4 will be sold and nearby stations will take over for the area.

However, in an email to The Daily, Evanston Fire Local 742 union executive board members Ryan Roeder and Billy Lynch said recklessly closing Station 4 would compromise the safety that Evanston residents deserve by causing delays in service. They said the city’s five fire stations are strategically situated to respond to emergencies.

According to EFD’s 2017 Annual Report, the department responded to just over 10,000 emergency calls last year. Former EFD Chief Greg Klaiber wrote in an Oct. 7 Facebook post that 1,173 of those calls were located in the neighborhood serviced by Station 4, which is typically staffed by one captain, two firefighter/paramedics, and one fire engine.

Evanston and Northwestern are serviced by only two ambulances and seven firefighter/paramedic-staffed vehicles — five engines and two trucks. According to the proposed budget, after Station 4 is shut down, its fire engine will also be removed from service. According to Klaiber, engines located at Madison Street and Emerson Street would have to cover the area, resulting in increased response times.

Roeder and Lynch’s joint statement echoed Klaiber’s post, calling the proposed closure particularly concerning because of the already limited resources that EFD has. On top of that, they said the number of EMS calls has more than doubled in recent decades, though there has been no increase in the number of responding personnel. The proposed budget’s decrease of nine EFD positions — one layoff of an active firefighter/paramedic and the elimination of eight vacant spots — would only increase the strain,.

The city will hold a public hearing about the budget on Oct. 27, and each ward will be hosting informal budget review sessions through Oct. 24. Residents can also use the city website to comment on the proposal before the final vote in November.

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Evanston Fire Department news (more)

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Former Evanston fire chief Greg Klaiber is sharply criticizing plans to close one of the city’s five fire stations as part of broader cuts to balance the city’s 2019 budget

In a message posted on his Facebook page, Klaiber says he can’t support elimination of nearly 10 percent of the city’s firefighter/paramedic positions.

Klaiber, who since his retirement from the city has worked as director of emergency management at Northwestern University, says that last year about 11 percent of the calls for service in the city came from within Station 4’s protection district.

Facebook post from Greg Klaiber about closing of Evanston fire station

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Evanston Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

Evanston city officials have proposed cutting nearly 40 jobs — including five police officers and nine firefighters — slashing the public health department budget, closing one recreation center, and closing and selling a fire station in order to deal with a $7.4 million deficit expected in the city’s fiscal year 2019 budget which runs Jan. 1 to Dec. 31.

The discussion comes as Evanston deals with decreasing property tax revenue, increasing employee and pension costs, anticipated bond debt to pay for capital improvements around town, and costs to rebuild the Robert Crown Community Center, among other factors.

The reserve fund, which ideally should have 16.6 percent of the city’s annual operating expenses, ended 2017 at 12.8 percent. As such, $1.5 million of Evanston’s operating budget is marked for contribution to general fund reserve. The city has marked $1 million for debt service to pay for renovations to the Robert Crown Community Center.

City officials say property tax revenue has not recovered since the recession and sales taxes since that time have stayed relatively flat. Meanwhile, building permit revenue has dropped from a 2016 high and is not expected to recover soon.

  • The city proposed eliminating 38.5 jobs. Of those, 21 are vacant and 17.5 are filled. Positions that could be cut include: cultural arts coordinator, legal analyst and liquor licensing manager, facilities maintenance worker, fleet operations coordinator, payroll/pension specialist, junior mechanic, two full-time and one part-time human services advocates, the director and assistant director of public health, communicable disease specialist, one police commander, one court liaison, one police video records specialist, five police officers, nine firefighters, and two public works maintenance workers.
  • Another proposal reorganizes the parks department, which could result in one full-time and three part-time positions being cut.
  • Fire Station 4, in the 2nd Ward, could be closed and put up for sale, with all firefighter positions there eliminated, according to the proposed budget. That could save the city about $1.3 million.
  • In contrast, the city could close the Gibbs-Morrison Center in the 5th Ward, but keep the building and property and lease it out to a new operator. City staff also is proposing eliminating the Storefront Modernization Program, which includes grants to help local businesses update entryways. Cutting that program would save Evanston $75,000.
  • Also on the cutting block is Evanston’s Cultural Arts Administration, which helps support local arts. If cut, it could save the city $175,000. Staff also proposed eliminating the annual World Art and Music Festival, which would save $55,000.
  • Also proposed is reducing Mental Health Board funding by $250,000, or about 34 percent of the 2018 budget.

Some proposals to help generate additional revenue, staff has proposed increasing the residential parking permit rate from $15 to $30, raising parking ticket fees from $20 to $25, charging $70 for block party permits — which now are free, increasing the wheel tax from $75 to $85 and contracting out the city’s crossing guards.

The council is expected to begin discussing the budget at its Oct. 22 meeting and hold a public hearing on Oct. 27.

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