Posts Tagged Prospect Heights Fire Chief Drew Smith

5-Alarm fire with 2 Specials and a 2-Alarm EMS Box in Prospect Heights, 7-18-18 (more)

Larry Shapiro video (part 1)

More photos from the 5-Alarm fire with 2 Specials and a 2-Alarm EMS Box in Prospect Heights, 7-18-18 

Tim Olk photo

Picture 1 of 14

Massive fire destroys 3 apartment buildings on McIntosh Court in Prospect Heights, IL 7/18/18. Tim Olk photo

Excerpts from the DailyHerald.com:

When firefighters responded to a fire at one of the 16 buildings that make up the River Trails Condominium complex in Prospect Heights Wednesday afternoon, they knew the blaze could quickly get out of hand.

Investigators said a juvenile accidentally ignited the blaze. No charges have been filed. The blaze started in a second-floor unit in the southernmost building on McIntosh Court and rapidly spread upward and outward. Once it reached the attic, the blaze had unfettered access to the other three buildings. The mansard-style roof that hangs over the third floor also allowed the fire to glide effortlessly along the structure’s side as the flames fed on air inside the enclosed eaves. A mild breeze then helped stoke the flames.

Firefighters made every attempt to stop or slow the spread of flames, but they were thwarted by the fire’s ability to keep moving until it got to the northernmost building. There, they made a successful stand against the encroaching flames.

“We tried to cut in several spots before that to try and stop it,” Prospect Heights Fire District Chief Drew Smith said. “It was a futile effort. If this would have happened at 1 a.m. instead of 1 p.m. like it did, I don’t know how this would have turned out.”

Fire safety officials blame the speed and scope on a lack of modern fire safety devices and construction. The 46-year-old complex had no building-wide fire alarms, sprinkler systems, fire walls or attic separators — all fire safety features that experts say would have stopped or significantly slowed the inferno.

New apartments are required to have sprinkler systems, firewalls to keep fires from spreading to other units, and attic separators that restrict overhead air flow in the building to lower the risk of fires spreading. None of the buildings that burned Wednesday had those, and none had building-wide fire alarms. Because of their age, the Prospect Heights buildings were not required to have those fire safety measures in place.

And under current city code, if the apartments are rebuilt, they still might not have them. If more than 50 percent of the buildings that burned are salvageable, the city can’t force the owners to retrofit the buildings to comply with modern fire codes.

Prospect Heights Fire District Chief Drew Smith warns against rebuilding the apartments as if nothing happened. “We are going to meet with the city and try to put forth a strategy for what comes next,” he said. “We need them to have a fire alarm in these buildings, at the very least.”

On Christmas Eve morning 2006, a blaze caused by Christmas lights in a second-floor unit had the entire third floor engulfed in 10 minutes. That fire also spread to a neighboring building, though firefighters were able to quickly extinguish it. In the end, only 30 percent of the building was destroyed and it was reconstructed without a sprinkler system or other modern fire suppression measures.

Estimates indicate retrofitting existing buildings with sprinklers costs between $2 and $7 per square foot, according to the National Fire Protection Association. The 16 buildings at River Trails contain roughly 380,000 square feet of living space, putting the estimated cost at somewhere between $760,000 and $2.7 million. That the cost would require a special assessment that would possibly be passed on to renters, who might then be priced out of their homes. Most of the River Trails units are individually owned and rented out to others.

Several towns require sprinklers in new construction of single-family homes.

thanks Dan

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New tanker for Prospect Heights (more)

From Drew Smith:

The 1994 Spartan/S&S Tanker is DOA. During its annual maintenance inspection, it was discovered that there was fracturing of the oak planks that are part of the mounting between the tank frame and chassis frame. The vehicle was sent to Alexis Fire Equipment for repair. When the tank was removed as part of the work it was then found that both chassis frame rails and both tank frame rails were severely corroded. The cost to repair the tank (of which the body was part) was tens of thousands of dollars. The chassis frame was determined to be not repairable as it had pitting along the top and deep pitting on the sides. The side pitting was in the location of the suspension mounts and was deeper than half the thickness of the frame. The top pitting ran the entire length of each frame rail. In some spots, when struck with a welding hammer the areas deepened further. 

corrosion makes fire truck not repairable

Prospect Heights Fire District photo

corrosion makes fire truck not repairable

Prospect Heights Fire District photo

corrosion makes fire truck not repairable

Prospect Heights Fire District photo

corrosion makes fire truck not repairable

Prospect Heights Fire District photo

corrosion makes fire truck not repairable

Prospect Heights Fire District photo

corrosion makes fire truck not repairable

Prospect Heights Fire District photo

corrosion makes fire truck not repairable

Prospect Heights Fire District photo

corrosion makes fire truck not repairable

Prospect Heights Fire District photo

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Prospect Heights Fire District news

Excerpts from the DailyHeraldnews.com:

Prospect Heights Fire Chief Drew Smith was sworn in last month as the department’s fifth chief in its 72-year history. It came after a 35-year career with the department, including the last 16 as deputy chief.

But, more than the numbers, Smith says the appointment was a dream come true.

He met with Prospect Heights residents for the first time as chief during an open house Saturday and wrote a letter expressing his vision for the department in its latest newsletter.

He dates his experience to freshman year at Prospect High School, when he was a member of Mount Prospect’s civil defense unit as well as a member of a Fire Explorers Post in Des Plaines.

By the time he was a junior, Smith had joined the Northwest Suburban High School District 214 Fire Cadet program, which allowed him and 11 other students to attend school in the morning and spend their afternoons at the Mount Prospect Fire Station for training.

Rather than taking the traditional college path after graduation, Smith went to work as a technician at Northwest Community Hospital and at a private ambulance company before landing a role as a volunteer firefighter in Prospect Heights.

His own story reflects the current trend in fire service. Of the 50 full- and part-time firefighters and paramedics in Prospect Heights, nearly all have college degrees.

Smith worked his way up, from serving as the district’s medical officer to being promoted to lieutenant and, in 1989, to battalion chief. He was among the first full-time staff members hired by the fire protection district in 2000, along with Donald Gould, his predecessor as chief, and Tim Jones, who, like him, was a deputy chief.

As one of two deputy chiefs, Smith’s role was to supervise training as well as the district’s paramedic program.

Ten years ago, Smith’s dedication to fire service — and his community — was recognized when he was inducted into Prospect High School’s Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame. His photo and plaque still hangs on the school’s wall of fame.

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