Posts Tagged Northbrook Fire Department Deputy Chief Dan Quinn

Northbrook Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

The Insurance Services Office has rated the Northbrook Fire Department a Class 1, placing it among the top 243 departments of a total 47,000 nationwide.

It’s been a long road to the honor for the department which was rated at Class 5 at the beginning of 1996. The department jumped to Class 3 that year and to a Class 2 about three years later.

On a 100-point system, the rating awards a possible 50 points for fire operations, 40 for firefighting water availability, and 10 for communications, according to the ISO. Northbrook cleared the 90-point Class 1 hurdle with 91.72.

The rating organization has become more accepting of automatic aid in recent years, recognizing that in dense suburban areas, it makes sense to share resources, said Northbrook Fire Department Deputy Chief Dan Quinn.

Northbrook’s response times have been inching up in recent years, Quinn acknowledged, adding that the steady growth of the village and the call load have been responsible. Through the use of full-time and paid-on-call firefighters, automatic aid, and non-automatic mutual aid, Northbrook averages 26 people at every structure fire, he said, compared to the 15 that ISO looks for.

Recognition by ISO that mutual and automatic aid is an efficient way of responding to emergencies may be part of the reason that the number of Class 1 departments has tripled to about a dozen over the past decade. Other towns with the top rating include Skokie, Arlington Heights, Downers Grove, and Westmont.

ISO, which sells its rating information to insurance companies, declined comment about Northbrook’s new rating, and referred questions to Northbrook officials.

Northbrook officials have recommended that property owners ask insurers if they qualify for a discount after July 1, when the new rating takes effect, but ISO ratings are often not considered in Illinois premium rate-setting, especially in residential underwriting

Some insurance companies are on record as preferring to use their own history of fire service to customers, as opposed to ISO’s. Allstate uses ISO, but other factors, too.

The top ISO rating is important to fire service professionals as a gauge of how well a department is doing the business of putting out fires.

Northbrook has kept up with training, equipment, and firefighting techniques as a matter of course, and reaching Class 1 status didn’t cost taxpayers anything extra.

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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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