Posts Tagged Fire Chief Dave Schmidt

Elgin Fire Department news

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The Elgin Fire Department needs to end the practice of paying firefighters overtime to cover shifts when there isn’t enough staff, Elgin Mayor Dave Kaptain said.

“We’re in a good position for the next two or three years, but this is not sustainable anymore,” Kaptain said during a special city council meeting Wednesday at which overtime expenditures in all city departments were discussed.

The department was directed to study the scheduling system and return to the council in six to nine months with a model that does not rely heavily on overtime to cover vacancies when someone is sick, injured or attending training.

Elgin’s 2017-18 budget calls for the fire department to save $700,000 in overtime by reducing two positions per shift, going from 34 to 32 firefighters on call. By restructuring how the 32 firefighters are deployed for service calls, employees did not have to be laid off, the budget said.

At the Wednesday meeting, Fire Chief Dave Schmidt said his 133-member department is on track to meet the number and will spend close to the $1.1 million budgeted for overtime. The challenges in keeping overtime inline come when firefighters are unable to work for legitimate reasons and someone must be tapped to take their place to ensure there are enough people available, Schmidt said.

About 75 percent of the fire department’s calls are for ambulance service and the department is looking at what other cities do to control their costs. They’re also exploring programs that might be able to meet the needs of people who call for ambulances frequently or provide more efficient ways to deal with calls that are more minor.

Kaptain said the fire department has been using an overtime model for at least 15 years, and he is concerned about factors that could make it less dependable or effective. Younger firefighters aren’t as enthusiastic about working overtime, he said, and over-relying on overtime could increase the likelihood of mistakes happening.

Beyond that, Elgin’s population continues to grow — 500 homes and 250 apartments are on the drawing board and there’s more residential and commercial development on the horizon — but the city has not added any new firefighters.

Whatever staff might find, Kaptain said, the International Association of Firefighters Local 439 will need to be part of the discussion. Noting past tensions between the union and city management, he said, “Us versus them has to stop. The union needs to be at the table, and we all need to push forward together.” Fire union President Joe Galli said they want to be involved in such discussions. Their concerns are not about preserving overtime pay but doing what’s safest for their members.

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Elgin Fire Department news

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Four Elgin fire stations are set to get new electrical systems equipment to replace antiquated or failing items.

The city council on Oct. 25 unanimously approved awarding a $65,290 contract to replace the generator and transfer switch at Fire Station 2 along Big Timber Road.

Fire Chief Dave Schmidt said there have been issues with the generator at the northwest side station for at least the last three to four years.

Council members also unanimously approved awarding a $127,000 contract for the installation of uninterrupted power supply systems and transfer switches in three fire stations and at the public works building.

Fire Station 3 along Royal Boulevard, Station 4 along South McLean Boulevard and Station 5 along Villa Street were built in 1991, long before the electrical demands of current technology. The three stations each have a generator that must be manually started during power outages, and the buildings’ electrical loads must be manually transferred.

Installing automatic transfer switches will allow the generators to start automatically when power to the buildings is lost. They will also be able to start without firefighters present.

The current uninterrupted power supply at the three stations can only maintain reserve power for about 15 to 20 minutes. That means it takes several minutes to manually restart computers, phone and station dispatch equipment. The new system is designed to operate along with the generator.

The funding for the new equipment will come from the city’s share of Grand Victoria Casino revenue.

thanks Dan

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Elgin Fire Department news

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Elgin Fire Chief Dave Schmidt said that in December the fire department purchased a practice drone and one that will be used in the field with a sophisticated forward-looking infrared (FLIR) camera system. The camera cost $9,000 and the two drones a combined $3,000.

The police and fire departments will begin using the equipment in the field after a presentation to be given the city council. Eventually, other departments might find uses for the drones, such as public works surveying its projects or the water department inspecting water towers and its sites.

At a hazardous materials spills, a drone could be sent up to survey the situation prior to any firefighters being sent into the impacted area. With structure fires or field fires, the drone could be deployed to see the nature of the blaze or from where the fire might be coming or be most intense. In searches for missing people, the drone could assist from above, saving time and saving money. Helicopters used in such scenarios can run upwards of $2,000 an hour.

The camera works in conjunction with a GPS mapping system. So if there were a flood, tornado, snowstorm, or other natural disaster that left an area unmarked or cleared of housing, that mapping could be used to compare how the area looked before and after the event. In those situations the drones also could be used to look for survivors and damage assessment.

Overseeing the fire department training is Battalion Chief Rich Carter. At the Elgin Police Department, Officer Kevin Snow has been training on using the drone system.

Advanced functions on the drone Elgin will be using include object avoidance and the ability to fly indoors. It’s also designed to be able to carry small objects, such as a life vest. It can stay in the air 28 to 35 minutes, and can be flown in winds up to 30 mph, but not in the rain.

State law limits how police departments can use drones. For surveillance operations, police must get a signed warrant. Any footage taken that is not used in a criminal case must later be destroyed, and drone footage is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.


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Elgin Fire Department news

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Elgin firefighters and residents were honored for their quick thinking and efforts to save lives in the past year.

There were several instances last year when firefighters — honored with the department’s highest award, the Phoenix — helped bring back to life patients who were in full cardiorespiratory arrest. While that may be part of firefighters’ jobs, it’s important to recognize positive outcomes, Fire Chief Dave Schmidt said.

Two residents whose lives were saved attended the ceremony and were given keychains marking the date and time of the events.

The fire chief’s award went to a team from Mathers Clinic who helped a woman unexpectedly deliver a baby, as well as Streamwood Firefighter Chris Tierney, who helped in a March accident involving an overturned limo on I-90, when a woman died.

The department also honored several residents. They included:

• Edier Fernandez, a laundromat employee who extinguished a dryer fire.

• Kurt Engle, a retired firefighter who helped a neighbor extinguish a stove top fire.

• Mary Richardson, who called 911 and performed CPR on her boyfriend until paramedics arrived.

• Tyrone Strother guided two boys to safety during a home fire just before Christmas, when firefighters rescued the boys’ two sisters.

• Four-year-old Sebastian Reyes alerted his mother and siblings when he smelled and saw smoke coming out of the basement in May.

• Four members of St. Thomas More Church, including Lieutenant Chris Clausen, performed CPR and used an automated external defibrillator to save the life of a priest who collapsed after Mass in August.

Firefighters were honored for performing CPR on a patient who was stricken while on the roof of a home and for a lengthy extrication of victims after an SUV drove into the rear of a semitrailer on I-90 in August, when Michigan nurse Susan Walthall, who was driving by, also helped.

Firefighters in August revived a man who crashed his bicycle and landed on railroad tracks, severely injuring his neck.

Hoffman Estates Firefighter Evan VonQualen called 911 after seeing smoke come out of a house and helped a resident get outside.

Streamwood Firefighter Eric Casey pulled a man out of a burning car after an accident in December on Route 20.

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Elgin Fire Department News

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The Elgin Fire Department spent $1.368 million on overtime in 2016, a more than 20 percent reduction from $1.715 million spent in 2015.

Fire Chief Dave Schmidt said the biggest reason for the reduction was about a 45 percent decrease in time lost by staff out on workman’s compensation.

Schmidt said part of the reason for the reduction in injury-related overtime was probably due to the purchase in recent years of bariatric lifts for transporting people to the hospital. The lifts make it easier to move larger people, thus lessening the likelihood of injury for paramedics. Already, the department has seen about a 45 percent decrease in shoulder injuries since 2013.

“All seven of our ambulances have the lifts now,” Schmidt said. “The City Council is seeing a return on investment for having decided to allocate the money for their purchase, which was roughly $32,000 per ambulance.”

Elgin uses a high overtime/ low personnel model for manning its shifts. The model is based on studies claiming that using overtime is about 15 percent less expensive over time than hiring more firefighters, figuring in costs such as pensions and health insurance.

As such, city and fire department officials look at past years’ numbers and other information to estimate how much overtime might be used in each year and budget accordingly. In 2016, that set-aside was $1.7 million.

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