Posts Tagged Northbrook Fire Chief Jose Torres

Northbrook Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

The retirement of Northbrook Fire Chief Jose Torres was announced Friday, the latest in a series of changes to the upper echelons of Northbrook’s emergency services in the last year. Torres, then 52, was hired in January of 2015 to take over the department. He came to Northbrook after 34 years in the fire service, the last 18 in Santa Monica, Calif.

“I’m surprised,” Villager President Sandy Frum said of his retirement. “I thought he did a good job. I’m just surprised from the age standpoint.”

Torres could not be reached for comment. A press release did not explain his decision.

One of the key improvements during his tenure was the elevation of the department’s Insurance Service Office rating to a Class 1. Much of the credit for that jump went to Deputy Chief Dan Quinn, who retired a month ago, after 28 years working for the department. He had been in his new job for only about a year, replacing Tim Smeltzer, who shifted to battalion chief.

Quinn’s replacement was formally announced Sept. 26 along with other promotions to fill in the ranks. The new deputy chief is Andy Carlson, a former battalion chief, and Capt. David Schweihs moved up to battalion chief. Firefighter/paramedic Steven Luecht was promoted to lieutenant.

Torres will stay until the end of the year, leaving at the same time as Northbrook Police Chief Chuck Wernick, who announced his retirement in July. A month before, Deputy Police Chief Lou Caruso, head of operations, and Dan Petka, spokesman and head of community relations, announced their retirements.

Northbrook Village Manager Rich Nahrstadt said a nationwide search will get underway to replace Torres.

thanks Dan

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Of interest … a Northbrook firefighter (more)

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Mount Prospect resident and Northbrook Firefighter Steve De Luca plans to run a half-marathon in July, do the Ironman Wisconsin in September and run the Chicago Marathon in October, his 25th.

However, an even larger milestone awaits him in 2017. De Luca hopes to mark his 16th year of being cancer-free, after battling stage 3 colon cancer in 2001.

Beating cancer isn’t the only health hazard De Luca has overcome. Just over 20 years ago, surgeons removed an acoustic neuroma from his head. It was a benign tumor, but he was left with a near total hearing loss in his left ear, and now his hearing is deteriorating in his right ear.

De Luca worried his hearing challenges would derail his fire career — he has been a firefighter apparatus engineer for 26 years. But specialized hearing aids, now in both ears, have allowed him to continue working. The aids localize sound and enable him to recognize the dispatch tones when they go off.

Northbrook Fire Chief Jose Torres said he thinks De Luca is the only one of his nearly 100-member personnel to complete his service while wearing double hearing aids.

Between these two health issues, De Luca has become something of an ambassador for health and wellness, his chief says. De Luca is a big proponent of monitors that gauge the air quality of toxic environments that firefighters often face.

Although each firefighter use breathing apparatus, Torres said, the firefighters often have to go in afterward during the cleanup stages and face exposure to toxins and other poisonous gases.

Earlier this year, Torres tapped De Luca to join Northbrook’s health and wellness committee. He thought De Luca would bring a unique perspective, given his own health experiences.

“He is admired by his fellow firefighters for participating in these endurance events,” Torres said. “But he is motivational as well. He does these events, not as much for himself, but for those currently suffering from cancer.”

thanks Dan

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Northbrook Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

Northbrook Fire Chief Jose Torres, just over halfway through his second year in command, has shaken up his staff, naming a new deputy chief and demoting the current deputy.

The moves come as Torres finishes a plan that will guide the village’s emergency services and preparation, in response to thousands of new residents expected to move to developments approved by Northbrook over the last two years.

“We’re taking a look at where the fire stations are, seeing whether they’re in the best place to continue to provide services in the most timely manner,” Torres said.

He said areas of stress on the department include more than 700 new apartments on the way to being occupied on Skokie Boulevard, as well as the northwest corner of the village, which is difficult to reach because of obstacles such as the expressway.

Previous growth has already left the Northbrook fire service challenged. In each of the last five years for which department records are available, its average arrival time to locations on surface streets has risen slightly, from 5 minutes and 13 seconds in the fiscal year ending in April 2011, to 5 minutes and 35 seconds in 2015.

Torres’ plan, which he said will be done by the end of 2016, or at the latest, the end of the village’s fiscal year April 30, 2017, will reflect on how the department might change in the next three, five and ten years.

He said he is also looking to raise the profile of the department, which has improved over the years to an Insurance Service Office rating of 2, the second-highest possible.

Torres’ new deputy chief is Dan Quinn, a 27-year department veteran who has for years led the drive to raise and protect the insurance rating, which reduces some Northbrook insurance bills. Quinn has also been a leader in emergency preparedness, Torres said.

Quinn, who led one of the department’s three shifts, has basically switched jobs with former Deputy Chief Tim Smeltzer, who takes those duties as a battalion chief. Quinn, served as a battalion chief, but had a mostly honorary title of district chief, Torres said.

Torres said that since the change was made in late July, Smeltzer has been doing a good job as a battalion chief, and is happy with that position, but the switch does not come without pain. Smeltzer’s annual pay will drop “commensurate with his position,” Torres said.

According to the village’s salary schedule, that means a reduction from over $137,000 to about $120,000 for Smeltzer, and a similar raise for Quinn.

“There are just differences in leadership and management styles,” between Quinn and Smeltzer, Torres said.

Torres, who was recently appointed as a representative to the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association, said he wants the department to raise its profile both regionally and nationally, since he considers it one of the finest in the country.

Torres said he has made other personnel changes, down to who handles fire hose, pump and air-mask testing.

He said he expects those moves to better prepare the department for personnel absences.

He said the normally large cadre of paid-on-call Northbrook firefighters has fallen to the point where only six are at his disposal, compared to the budgetary limit of 18. The reduction, he said, has come as the on-call firefighters have moved up to regular jobs around the area.

He said he’d like to triple the on-call ranks, and to do so will likely expand the distance from Northbrook where on-call firefighters can live, from the first ring of towns around the village, to places such as Buffalo Grove or Lake Forest.

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Northbrook Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

Kristin Schneider, her husband, and two children visited the Northbrook Fire Department Aug. 6 to thank firefighters who responded to the woman in labor call June 19 at the Northbrook Marathon.

The parents were on their way to Evanston Hospital. The 911 call came at 5:12 p.m. and Abigail arrived shortly after. The baby had the umbilical cord around her neck.

“Paramedics used quick judgment and took decisive actions to correct a nuchal cord complication,” Northbrook Fire Chief Jose Torres said.

Personnel to be recognized include Lt. Joel Eaton, Firefighter/Paramedic Jack Geiger, Craig Skala, and Mark Thompson, Fire Engineer Tom Schaul, and District Chief Daniel Quinn.

“They were able to reassure the patient throughout the delivery process and still had the situational awareness to offer the father an opportunity to cut the umbilical cord,” wrote Eaton in his July 21 award nomination email to Torres.

“A lot of calls that we respond to are the worst moments in a person’s life and so it’s really positive to go on a call that most would describe as the best moment in their life,” Eaton said.

A pink stork decal, a second one for that particular ambulance, was affixed Aug. 6 in honor of the birth.


thanks Dan

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Northbrook Civic Foundation honors Tim Olk

Northbrook Fire Chief Jose Torres congratulates Tim Olk

Larry Shapiro photo

Area photographer and frequent contributor Tim Olk was honored Monday night by the Northbrook Civic Foundation. He was awarded the Civic Award for his years of service to the community where he has lived all his life.

Congratulations Tim!

Tim Olk receives the Civic Award from the Northbrook Civic Foundation

Larry Shapiro photo

Excerpts from the

Tim Olk received one of two Northbrook 2015 Civic Awards Monday evening given by the Northbrook Civic Foundation.

He and seven volunteers of the greater Northbrook community were recognized at the Civic Foundation’s annual meeting and awards dinner. A professional fire scene photographer, Olk had spent the morning taking photographs of Chicago first responders firefighters hanging mourning bunting. He also photographed the processional which honored Chicago Fire Department firefighter Daniel Capuano, who died battling a blaze earlier in the day.

Olk was nominated for the award by Northbrook Fire Department Deputy Chief Tim Smeltzer. Several firefighters and Northbrook Fire Chief Jose Torres attended to support Olk who has photographed fire scenes since his youth. “Tim Olk is a selfless, giving individual,” Chief Torres said. “Not only is he locally recognized, but he is nationally recognized for his contributions.”

Northbrook Fire Chief Jose Torres

Larry Shapiro photo

Tim shoots for more than 50 Midwest fire departments including Chicago and Northbrook and was certified in the 1990s by the Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshal to document fire scenes.

Olk supports the Northbrook Civic Foundation photographing Northbrook Days, where he has volunteered for festival operations since he was 12.

Northbrook Fire Chief Jose Torres and Tim Olk

Larry Shapiro photo

More photos can be seen at

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