Posts Tagged Fire Chief Jeff Sorensen

Park Ridge Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

Five Park Ridge FD paramedics were recognized recently by the fire department and the city’s elected officials for their efforts in saving the life of a former Rosemont elementary school teacher last spring.

“My wife was a very sick woman the morning of May 11,” Park Ridge resident Tony Saracco said during the Oct. 16 recognition at City Hall. 

Firefighter/paramedics Paul Harris, Jeff Laube, Geoffrey Mleko, and Greg Woodford, and Lt. John Ortlund, each received an Outstanding Job Performance commendation for the advanced life support they provided Saracco’s wife, Bonnie, before taking her to the hospital, said Fire Chief Jeff Sorensen.

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New engine for Park Ridge (more)

Excerpts from the

One year after announcing it was the recipient of a federal grant to purchase a new fire engine, the Park Ridge Fire Department debuted the new engine during a Sept. 11 commemoration ceremony at city hall.

The engine was purchased with a $500,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, with a $50,000 match from the city, the department said last year.

It replaces a truck that was 22 years old. Last year, Fire Chief Jeff Sorensen said the aging vehicle frequently required repairs and maintenance and, because many parts were not immediately available due to its age, it was out of service for extended periods.

The new engine has better safety features, including a rear back-up camera; less diesel emissions than the older vehicle; and it is capable of pumping almost twice as much water. It is assigned to the city’s south side station at Devon and Cumberland avenues. 

Terms of the FEMA grant that allowed the department to buy the truck dictate that the 22-year-old truck cannot be sold to another fire department or emergency services agency.

Purchase bids for the truck will be sought, Sorensen added. On Sept. 18, the City Council approved an ordinance authorizing the sale or disposal of the vehicle.

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Park Ridge Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

Last year, Park Ridge Fire Department firefighter/paramedics responded to a record-setting 4,858 calls, according to the department’s 2015 annual report. It’s a number that has Fire Chief Jeff Sorensen acknowledging that the need for adding more paramedics may come as soon as next year.  According to the annual report, last year’s call volume was 7 percent higher than 2014 and 12 percent higher than 2013. Of last year’s incidents, nearly 63 percent were for medical emergencies, 60 percent of these requiring advanced life support.

“We are still able to provide quality and expedient service to the residents of Park Ridge, but if our call volume continues to increase at a rapid pace, we will need to reevaluate our staffing levels,” Sorensen said.

A look at call history compiled by the fire department for the last 15 years shows 2007 had the second-highest number of incidents, with 4,561 recorded, followed by 2011, when there were 4,309. Most years hovered just under or slightly above 4,000 calls.

Sorensen points to a few factors for the growing call volume, including citizens living with more complex and long-term medical conditions that require frequent transportation to hospitals, new residential developments bringing new residents to the city, an immediate care center opening in 2012, and shorter hospital stays for ill patients.

Exactly what the fire department’s future staffing needs will be has not yet been determined, Sorensen said, though he does believe the addition of more housing units and overall development in the city will continue to impact call volume.

The fire department has a staff of 50, with 15 paramedics serving on three shifts each. In 2015, the department paid out $315,540 in overtime, largely to maintain the required staffing levels. But adding new staff could be a challenge. Fire department layoffs — as many as 12 firefighter/paramedics — were included in the city manager’s recent cost-cutting recommendations, should the city’s share of money from the state be reduced.

Two ambulances are staffed each day, Sorensen explained, so if a third call comes in and both ambulances are taking patients to the hospital, out-of-town paramedics will need to be called in. That happened about 300 times last year, the 2015 report shows.

Calls involving two simultaneous incidents jumped dramatically in 2015, from just over 800 to more than 1,300. The average amount of time it takes crews to respond to a call was up last year compared to prior years, Sorensen acknowledged, but it still falls below the department’s goal of 360 seconds.

In terms of fires, there were 35 reported in 2015, one-third of which occurred inside residential buildings.

Going forward, the fire department is trying out new ways of responding to calls, including using a chase vehicle instead of a ladder truck to respond with an ambulance on medical calls.

“The goal of the rescue vehicle is to take some of the bigger rigs off the street when practical,” Sorensen told the City Council on Feb. 10, explaining that this will lead to less wear and tear on the trucks and possibly extend their use.

thanks Dan

About Park Ridge FD Rescue 36 mentioned in the article:

This from Bill Smaha:

Trial period for the Rescue 36 runs until April 30. Staffed with one FF/PM and one LT/PM. Designed to assist on ambulance calls and service calls not requiring a fire suppression vehicle. Rescue 36 is ALS equipped along with hand tools, tool box, rope, PFD’s, mustang suit, and SCBAs. If staffing is above minimums, the rescue will be staffed for 24 hours. If staffing is below minimums, it will be staffed from 8am-6pm.

fire department outfits van as chase vehicle

Park Ridge FD Rescue 36. Larry Shapiro photo

fire department outfits van as chase vehicle

Larry Shapiro photo

fire department outfits van as chase vehicle

Larry Shapiro photo

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Reorganization at the Park Ridge FD

Excerpts from the

Five years after the city of Park Ridge cut funding for a dedicated training officer within the fire department, the position is being restored.

Part of Fire Chief Jeff Sorensen’s reorganization of the department includes the position of a training captain for all firefighter/paramedics. Lt. Derek Decker was promoted to the position on April 30.

Restoring the position was prompted by a need to more consistently train members of the department, in addition to the department receiving a low score during a 2012 insurance rating review, Sorensen indicated.

“We got a score of 47 percent in training,” he said. “That’s where the rubber meets the road here.”

The fire department’s current rating is three. But ISO rating aside, the lack of a training captain within the department has affected the amount and type of training firefighters receive, the chief believes.

Funding for training was cut from the city budget in 2010 and the lack of a training captain had been identified by Sorensen’s predecessor. Money was eventually budgeted for the 2013-14 fiscal year, but the position was never filled.

Also as part of the reorganization of the department, Sorensen has promoted firefighter/paramedic Matt Jarka to lieutenant – taking over Decker’s previous position — and has created the position of “executive officer” to fill the administrative responsibilities of the deputy chief. The deputy chief’s position has been vacant since September when Sorensen, then deputy chief, was elevated to acting fire chief.

The executive officer will receive a salary of $96,284, which is $20,600 less than the deputy fire chief received. In addition, the department will not fill the vacant administrative assistant position or the part-time position of emergency preparedness coordinator, which is also now vacant. Both jobs will be handled by the executive officer, Sorensen said.

Overall, there will be an annual savings of $90,085 for the fire department, he wrote in the memo to the City Council.

thanks Dan

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