Posts Tagged Evanston Firefighters Association IAFF Local 742

History of The Evanston Fire Department – Part 81

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about the History of the Evanston Fire Department


Post World War II, Advance Ambulance was the North Shore’s foremost private ambulance company, mainly transporting patients from hospital to hospital, hospital to nursing home, or nursing home to hospital, but also sometimes from a residence to a hospital. The Advance Ambulance Evanston station was located in the former American Railway Express garage at 1019 Davis Street, and there was another station in Skokie at 5361 Main Street. There was also an Advance Ambulance station at Diversey & Cicero in Chicago.

In the 1970’s, Advance relocated their three North Shore suburban ambulances to a new three-bay station at 2421 Dempster Street in Evanston, on the border with Skokie. Then in 1980, Advance Ambulance made what was considered at the time to be a radical proposal to the City of Evanston and the Village of Skokie, offering to provide medical transport service for Evanston and Skokie from their Dempster Street ambulance station.

The plan was to replace the Evanston and Skokie MICU ambulances with Advance ambulances staffed by EMTs. Advance would take care of medical insurance paperwork, billing, and debt collecting. The company guaranteed that if two of the three ambulances assigned to the Evanston / Skokie station were on runs, that an ambulance assigned to the Chicago station would be moved up to the Dempster Street station, and if necessary, a fifth ambulance would be moved from Chicago to the Dempster Street station, so that the company could respond to as many as five EMS calls in Evanston and / or Skokie at the same time. 

The Evanston and Skokie fire departments would continue to provide paramedic services in their jurisdictions, but rather than do so with firefighters assigned to ambulances, the plan was for Evanston and Skokie to assign their paramedics and ALS gear to engine companies — three paramedic companies in each fire department — who would respond to medical emergencies along with an Advance ambulance. The plan would have allowed the Evanston and Skokie fire departments to run with four-man engine and truck companies; and not just the designated paramedic companies, either, but ALL engine and truck companies.

If necessary, a fire department paramedic would ride in the Advance ambulance to the hospital, but the paramedic company could still remain in service with a three-man crew while waiting for the paramedic to return from the hospital. The Advance Ambulance crew would drive the paramedic back to his or her fire station after completion of the run.

In the case of Evanston, there would have been three, four-man paramedic engine companies (probably 21, 22, and 25), one other four-man non-paramedic engine company (probably 24), one four-man truck company at Station # 2, and one four-man quint company at Station # 3 (coinciding with the proposal to move Truck Co. 21 to Station # 3), plus the shift commander (F-2), and either a dedicated driver for Squad 21 or a buggy driver for F-2. There would have been NO jump companies. In the case of Skokie, the three paramedic companies would have probably been Engine 1 at Station # 1, Rescue Truck 2 at Station # 2, and Squad-Engine 3 at Station # 3, with Snorkel-Truck Co. l, Engine Co. 2, Engine Co. 3, and Truck Co. 3 not staffed by paramedics.

Both the City of Evanston and the Village of Skokie declined the offer from Advance Ambulance, but if it had been accepted, it might have eventually led to an automatic-aid agreement between Evanston and Skokie that would have kept both fire departments intact as separate entities while combining dispatching and training, and with the closest company responding to a fire or medical emergency without regard to borders or jurisdiction.

An automatic aid agreement also would have afforded Evanston the opportunity to close Fire Station # 4 instead of rebuilding it, with Evanston Engine Co. 22 first-due to the east half of Station # 4’s district, and Skokie Engine Co. 2 (now known as Engine 17) taking the west half. In return, Evanston Engine 25 could have been the first due engine company to the area of Skokie northeast of Church & Crawford, and to Old Orchard Road east of Skokie Blvd. In addition, a fully-staffed four-man Squad 21 at Station # 1 could have replaced Engine Co. 24, operating as the paramedic company for Station # 1 and the RIT company at working fires.

Evanston Fire Chief Sanders “Sam” Hicks retired in 1987 after 37 years of service. The Evanston city manager began a nation-wide search for a replacement, and Raymond Brooks, chief of the Michigan City Fire Department in Indiana, was hired. Chief Brooks was the EFD’s second African American chief.

Seeing the need for three front-line MICU ambulances that had been obvious for years, Chief Brooks implemented the so-called Jump Company Plan on August 12, 1988. Under this plan, ambulances and paramedics were assigned to three of the five fire stations, as three engine companies — Engine 21, Engine  22, and Engine 25 — were established as four-man paramedic “jump companies,” so-called because the crews “jumped” back and forth as needed between their engine and ambulance. Both the engine and the ambulance would respond to structure fires, with three firefighters riding aboard the pumper and the fourth driving the ambulance.

However, response times to medical emergencies in the first-due areas of Station # 3 and Station # 4 — whose engine companies were no longer used as “first responders” — actually increased significantly, and a “jump company” could be out of service for as long as an hour during a medical transport, unavailable to staff its pumper and respond to a structure fire.The Jump Company Plan also could cause confusion at times. There was an incident at a house fire on Asbury Avenue following a natural gas explosion on May, 29, 1991, where a firefighter assigned to Ambulance 22 broke protocol and single-handedly transported a burn patient to St. Francis Hospital while the rest of the crew from Engine Co. 22 was fighting the fire.

Also in 1991, a scandal involving falsified, absent, or lost paramedic training records from 1988 and 1989 implicating 80% of the EFD’s 50 paramedics cast a cloud over Evanston’s Emergency Medical Service program. Nobody was criminally charged or prosecuted, but some of the paramedics were suspended up to ten days without pay. An agreement was reached in June 1991 between IAFF Local 742, the Evanston Fire Department, St. Francis Hospital (the EFD’s resource hospital), and the State of Illinois Department of Public Health, that saved both the program and the certification of Evanston’s paramedics. However, before they could be reinstated and re-certified as paramedics, the firefighters — some of whom had been paramedics for 15 years — were required to pass a comprehensive two-day exam at St. Francis Hospital.

Three firefighters who had been serving as paramedics prior to the scandal declined to take the re-certification test, and one took the test but failed it. The other 36 passed and were reinstated. However, Medical Services Division Chief Sam Hunter voluntarily gave up his paramedic certification and was reassigned to the Training Division. Chief Brooks resigned in April 1991 and moved to Alhambra, California, where he was hired as that city’s new fire chief. He would later serve as the fire chief in San Jose, California, and in Birmingham, Alabama, as well as city manager of Birmingham.

Deputy Chief Phil Burns was named acting chief following the departure of Chief Brooks. Soon after, the Jump Company Plan was dropped, and EMS was essentially restored to pre-August 1989, with two front-line fully-staffed MICU ambulances, and one fully-equipped but unmanned MICU “jump” ambulance that was staffed by a truck company whenever a third ambulance was needed, presuming the truck company was available and in quarters.The only difference between the EMS deployment of the 1980’s and the 1990’s was that Ambulance 2 (now known as Ambulance 22) was assigned to Station # 2 instead of Station # 4, and Ambulance 3 (now known as Ambulance 23) and Truck Co. 21 (re-designated Truck Co. 23) were relocated from Station # 1 to Station # 3.

Chief Burns retired from the EFD in 1991, becoming chief of the Rolling Meadows F. D. Division Chief Dave Franzen served as acting chief following the retirement of Chief Burns. Evanston City Manager Eric Anderson selected James Hunt, chief of the Cape Coral F.D. in Florida to be Evanston’s new chief in 1992. Both City Manager Anderson and Chief Hunt moved on to Des Moines, Iowa, in 1996. Division Chief John Wilkinson served as acting chief for two years after the departure of Chief Hunt, before being named Evanston’s 19th permanent fire chief in 1998.

Beginning in 1999, one engine company at each of the city’s five fire stations was staffed with paramedics and equipped with ALS gear. The equipment was purchased jointly by IAFF Local 742 and the City of Evanston. Local 742’s half of the contribution utilized money it received from the Foreign Fire Tax Board fund, a source of money that Local 742 had used previously to purchase forcible-entry and thermal-imaging equipment for the EFD. Thus, with ALS gear at all five stations, and with nearly 2/3 of the members of the EFD certified as paramedics, it was no longer necessary for an MICU ambulance to arrive before advanced life-saving efforts could commence.

The EFD was still operating two dedicated front-line MICU ambulances in 1999, one at Station # 1, and one at Station # 2, each staffed by two paramedics. A third “jump” ambulance was located at Fire Station # 3, and it could be staffed by paramedics from Truck Co. 23 if a third ambulance was needed, presuming Truck 23 was available and in quarters. Engine 23 would eventually replace Truck 23 as the “jump company” at Station # 3.  

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Evanston Fire Department history Part 71

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department



Two major fires occurred in Evanston within about a month of each other in early 1974. The Evanston Fire Department battled an extra alarm fire in the service department of the Humphrey Chevrolet automobile dealership at 635 Chicago Avenue on a Sunday afternoon in January 1974, and then a very large fire at the Marblecast Company warehouse at 1920 Ridge Avenue on a Saturday night in February.

Located at the northeast corner of Chicago & Keeney, Humphrey Chevrolet’s main garage door opened onto Keeney Street, and it was through this entrance that firefighters attacked the flames. Very much like the Moto-Port fire in 1956 and the Holiday Lincoln-Mercury fire in 1968, this blaze involved vehicles, gasoline, and other flammables located inside a commercial garage, producing thick black smoke that poured out of the garage and permeated the neighborhood.

Crews from Engine 22 and Squad 21 initially attacked the fire with hand-lines, before being forced to back-out when conditions in the interior worsened. Engine 24 took the hydrant at Hinman & Keeney and supplied water for Engine 22 and Squad 21. Engine 21 and Engine 23 responded on the second alarm and led-out multiple 2-1/2 inch hose-lines, with Engine 21 pumping from the hydrant at Chicago & South Boulevard, and Engine 23 pumping from the one located on the east-side of Chicago Avenue half a block north of Keeney. The service department was gutted and several vehicles were destroyed before the flames were extinguished. The estimated loss from this fire was $160,000.

About a month after the Humphrey Chevrolet fire, the EFD responded to a report of a fire at the Marblecast warehouse. Located in the former Bowman Dairy building, the blaze was initially attacked from the interior with hand-lines manned by the first-arriving engine companies, while Truck 21 ventilated the roof. F-2 ordered a second alarm, bringing Engine 25, Engine 22, and Truck 22 to the scene, with second alarm companies ordered to protect the Fields Cadillac automobile dealership exposure to the north.

Mutual aid was requested from Wilmette, and Engine 202 responded to EFD Station # 1 to provide coverage for the city, as Engine 24 — the last remaining EFD engine company available — was dispatched to the fire. Despite a valiant effort by the engine companies, the fire had gained too much headway to allow firefighters to knock it down, so crews were ordered out of the building and the fight went defensive.

With Truck 21 working on the east side and Truck 22 operating from the C&NW RR freight siding on the west side, the EFD’s two ladder trucks provided elevated master streams that were played through the roof after it collapsed, as well as 35-foot and 50-foot ground ladders used to access the roof of the Fields Cadillac automobile dealership. The general manager of the auto dealership as well as several employees responded from home and moved a number of Caddies out of the showroom and service department.

A full Code 10 was ordered by Chief Beattie, calling in firefighters from the two off-duty shifts, many of them responding from a party hosted by IAFF Local 742. The two reserve engines and the reserve truck were manned by off-duty crews arriving at Stations 3, 4, and 5, while other firefighters were shuttled to the scene in EFD station wagons and the International pick-up truck.

The auto dealership to the north was saved but the warehouse was gutted, with an estimated property loss loss of $543,000, the sixth-highest loss from a fire in Evanston’s history up until that point time. Only the fires at the American Hospital Supply Corporation ($1.9 million loss in October 1963), the Rolled Steel Corporation ($1.4 million loss in January 1970), Bramson’s clothing store ($1.2 million in October 1971), the Northwestern University Technological Institute ($620,000 loss in December 1940), and Hines Lumber Yard ($545,000 loss in March 1971) sustained a higher property loss.

During the 1960’s, IAFF Local 742 grew increasingly militant under the dynamic leadership of Michael Lass. Lass joined the EFD in 1963, and was promoted to Captain in 1970. However, his real talent was as a union operative. Capt. Lass resigned from the EFD in 1971, giving up a promising career as a fire officer to take a full-time job as IAFF Illinois field representative. Capt. William Currie, a 20-year veteran of the EFD, succeeded Lass as president of Local 742, but the union was no less militant under Capt. Currie than it had been under Capt. Lass.

At 6 AM on Thursday, February 28, 1974, just a few days after the Marblecast fire, 88 members of Local 742 led by Capt. Currie went on strike, the first significant job action by Evanston firemen since eleven of the twelve members of the part-time paid EFD resigned en masse in a dispute with Chief Sam Harrison in 1888. Requesting an immediate 10% pay raise and a reduction in their work-week, Evanston firefighters struck only after the City of Evanston refused to negotiate.

With 88 members of the Evanston Fire Department plus their families, friends, and citizens sympathetic to the cause walking picket lines in front of the five fire stations, EFD chiefs, police officers who had been cross-trained as auxiliary firefighters in 1958, and other assorted “volunteers” from various city departments were ordered to man the fire stations. Two police officers were assigned to each of the three police station wagon ambulances, as the Evanston PD responded to inhalator calls without EFD support. The Village of Skokie agreed to allow its fire department to provide mutual aid to Evanston, but only in the event of a working fire.

The City of Evanston requested and received an emergency court injunction to stop the strike, but only after another judge refused to grant one. Members of Local 742 returned to work at 11 AM on Saturday, March 2nd, the strike having lasted 53 hours. No significant fires occurred during the strike. Despite some in city government claiming the city had won, the Evanston City Council recognized Local 742 as the collective bargaining entity for Evanston firefighters, and directed City Manager Ed Martin and the city attorney to negotiate with the union. As a result, Evanston firefighters received a significant pay raise, and the average work-week was reduced from 56 to 54 hours.

In the year prior to the strike (1973), annual salaries for “topped out” members of the Evanston Fire Department ranged from $20,600 (Chief) to $17,880 (Assistant Chief) to $15,192 (Captain) to $13,848 (Fire Equipment Mechanic) to $13,008 (Fireman I). By 1977, annual salaries for “topped out” members of the EFD had increased to $29,000 (Chief), $23,952 (Assistant Chief), $19,788 (Captain), $18,660 (Fire Equipment Mechanic), and $17,256 (Fireman I), in each case an increase of anywhere from 30% – 40% over the four-year period. This increase is made even more significant when combined with a reduction in the average work-week from 56 to 54 hours during the same period of time.

Reducing the work-week was accomplished by the return of the “Kelly Day” (henceforth to be known as a “Short Day”), a concept that had been phased-out when the three-platoon system and 56-hour work-week were implemented in April 1957. Beginning in 1975, each Evanston firefighter working a shift would receive an extra day off every twelve weeks (a five-day mini-vacation after every 27 days worked). To provide the three additional men needed to cover short days (one extra man on each platoon), one of the two captain’s positions in the Fire Prevention Bureau was eliminated, and the EFD was increased from 100 to 102 members.

The “Collective Bargaining Bill” was signed into law by Illinois Governor James Thompson on December 10, 1985. In addition to providing collective bargaining rights for Illinois firefighters, the bill also made strikes by firefighters illegal. However, Evanston firefighters won collective bargaining rights in 1974 because they were willing to risk their careers by going out on strike after the city refused to negotiate, which in subsequent  contracts helped lead to more substantial pay raises, a further reduction in the work-week, and improvements in working conditions. 

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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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