Posts Tagged Springfield Fire Department

Springfield Fire Department news

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While still dealing with a $1.4 million cut to their budget, the Springfield firefighter’s union is concerned over another issue: What happens if there are too many fires and not enough firefighters?

On Sunday night, three fires in under three hours occupied most of the Springfield Fire Department’s resources. Now, they say they are worried that if fewer people are on staff at one time because of these budget cuts, it will leave the city unprotected in situations like this.

Due to the minimum manning provision in the previous contract between the city and the fire union, 49 firefighters have to be on staff at all times. At any moment, there are 45 firefighters on staff who operate 15 companies, plus two safety personnel and two battalion chiefs. During one fire, six rigs go out.

So, on Sunday, when two fires were burning at the same time and one followed shortly thereafter, resources were spread thin.

But, with the fire budget being cut by $1.4 million, the union fears layoffs and changes to the minimum manning provision may be coming.

While the Springfield mayor and the city’s leadership have repeatedly said layoffs will not happen, the union says a change to the minimum manning would be a loophole and would hurt the city in situations like Sunday night.

The previous contract between the city and the union expired on Feb. 28.




Springfield Fire Department news

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Nearly half of the Springfield Fire Department’s operating budget was slashed Tuesday and the Springfield City Council added on eight amendments that directly affected the Fiscal Year 2022 corporate fund budget before giving its final approval on a 9-1 vote.

That vote capped a nearly four-and-a-half-hour evening that started with a Committee of the Whole meeting then went to a public hearing session before the special city council meeting. Aldermen trimmed $1.4 million from the fire department on a 6-4 vote. Later, a proposal to restore $500,000 in overtime pay was defeated in an 8-2 vote.

“The cut, I don’t know if it’s overcome-able without sending people home,” Fire Chief Brandon Blough said, referring to layoffs. “I think that was probably why that number was set. I’m going to do everything in my power to keep everybody at work. But they’ve put the fire department in a position where it’s going to be really hard. Over 90 percent of (the department’s $41.5 million budget) is personnel costs, so I don’t know where $1.4 million is going to come from.”

The $3 million in operating costs, Blough explained, is for things like diesel fuel for trucks, keeping the lights on in fire houses, and buying medical supplies.

More than a dozen firefighters filled seats in city council chambers in a show of support. Earlier, Vince Zummo, the new president of the local firefighters union, made an impassioned plea for the city administration and union to enter into a new era of trust.

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Springfield Fire Department news (more)

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Brandon Blough has been appointed as the new Springfield fire chief. Three candidates from within the department were interviewed for the position

Blough was a member of the senior command staff, serving as deputy division chief of operations. He was promoted to the position in 2018. Prior to that he was a captain, driver engineer, and firefighter. He was also a member of the dive team. He currently sits on the board of directors of the Illinois Public Pension Fund Association, a group that represents the more than 600 police and fire pension funds in Illinois. He served on the Springfield Firefighters’ Pension Board from 2009 to 2018, first as a trustee and later president. Prior to joining the SFD, Blough was a legal sergeant with the Illinois Army National Guard from 1989 to 1995.

The city’s fire pension systems is currently about 42% funded. Nearly $270 million in additional funds will be needed above what the city is expected to collect in property tax revenue in order to meet the state law requiring that local pension systems be 90 percent funded by 2040, according to a city presentation from 2019. The city’s annual contribution to its fire and police pension systems has exceeded the property tax levy for the past several years.

Blough will be tasked with maintaining the department’s Class 1 rating, which it regained in 2018 after being downgraded in 2003. The ratings system looks at a city’s fire suppression capabilities by grading the fire department, the emergency communications system, the city’s water supply and efforts toward community risk reduction.

His annual salary as chief will be $137,000.

Blough’s father, William “Billy” Blough, was on the fire department from 1972 to 1999. He retired as a driver-engineer.

Fire Marshal Ed Canny, a 23-year department veteran who is also the chief of the department’s fire safety division, will continue to be the point person for the COVID-19 response. 

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Springfield Fire Department news

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With Fire Chief Allen Reyne’s surprise announcement that he will retire on Dec. 1, attention now turns to who will replace him. The pool of prospective candidates already has been whittled down — foremost by a clause in the city’s contract with the firefighters’ union requiring that the mayor choose the chief from the current ranks. Furthermore, the chief and other top-level fire department appointees must meet minimum requirements per city code that include having at least 10 years of service with the department and having passed the battalion chief’s examination. With the exception of six years in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the hire-from-within clause has been in the Springfield union’s contract since it began to collectively bargain with the city.

This brings the list of potential candidates down to 25, including three division chiefs, two deputy division chiefs, nine battalion chiefs and 11 captains who are on the battalion chief’s list. 

Bassett, a 24-year veteran of the force, is a certified fire investigator who previously served as deputy division chief of fire safety and deputy division chief of operations.

Moore, a 20-year SFD veteran, would be the first female chief in the department’s history. About 95% of Springfield firefighters are men. She already broke a glass ceiling in 2018 when she became the first woman to ever be a fire division chief in the city’s history.

Blough, a 21-year veteran of the department, served as a captain before being promoted to his current position in 2018.

There are three other 2018 candidates still in the department: Jason McMillan, a captain; Jim Price, a senior arson investigator; and Donnie Richardson, a battalion chief.

Another possible candidate is Fire Marshal Ed Canny, a 23-year department veteran who is also the chief of the department’s fire safety division and oversees several programs, including code enforcement, investigations, fireworks safety and public education. He’s been in his current role since May 2019.

Deputy division chief of operations Mike Abbott, a 20-year veteran of the force, could also be in the mix.

All Springfield fire chiefs in recent memory have come from within the department’s ranks.

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Fire service news – Coronavirus COVID-19 (more)

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Springfield’s fire department reported 73 total firefighters in quarantine Friday, along with a total of 19 who had tested positive for COVID-19. This comes after firefighters reported 37 people were quarantined on Nov. 9. Twelve firefighters had tested positive for the virus at that time. 

All fire stations are open and providing services but Engine 2 and Engine 12 will not be operating until further notice due to the change in numbers. Both engines are part of a multi-company station house. 

“While this is not ideal, it is our current reality with so many of our members who have been exposed,” said Springfield Fire Chief Allen Reyne. “The department will begin working with our regional hospitals to determine if our methodology for quarantine, which we have used since day one, is still supported by CDC.”

This is a temporary shutdown and the department will be working hard to get firefighters back quickly while keeping the safety of everyone in mind. 


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Fire service news – Coronavirus COVID-19

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Fire departments in central Illinois have created contingency plans in case firefighters are infected with coronavirus.

This week twelve Springfield firefighters contracted COVID-19, including Chief Allen Reyne. The outbreak within the department caused a total of 37 firefighters to isolate or quarantine. The outbreak was traced back to a house party. Reyne said, “Once you get two or three positives, now you have to look back through contact tracing, who worked with who, what calls they ran together. We’ve done that over the last few days. At one point, we were at 48. Pretty quickly, we got that number down to 37.” Despite the big setback the department is still running on a full staff. But with fewer firefighters available, they are racking up the overtime.

The Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshal shares daily stats on how COVID-19 has affected departments in Illinois. Champaign Fire Deputy Chief Tyler Funk said, “Since March 17th, there have been 2,039 firefighters that have been directly affected by this COVID-19 virus, and it effects 182 fire departments across the state. Those numbers include firefighters that have either been placed into quarantine or have tested positive.”

The pandemic has forced departments to prepare if exposure happens in their areas. In June, a Champaign firefighter had to isolate after testing positive for COVID-19. Twelve other firefighters self-quarantined as well. The department has made adjustments to adapt to the health and safety risks since the pandemic started. Funk said, “We’re doing symptom based checks in the morning before they enter the workplace. We’re obviously wearing masks and staying socially distant within the department.”

Smaller villages, like Tolono, have a volunteer department. They have also made changes to operations. Assistant Chief Chris Humer said, “Not as many responders will go inside of a house, for your average medical call, it may just be one or two.” With nineteen firefighters on their force, they can not afford a significant loss in staff. “We have contingency plans set up with mutual aid departments, such as Savoy. We’re in constant contact with their administrative team as well, consistently talking about staffing levels,” said Humer.

Both large and small fire departments have similar plans for coronavirus outbreaks. If they can’t make up for a loss in staff with their own firefighters, they have agreements with nearby departments for mutual aid.

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Springfield Fire Department news

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Police and firefighters from around the world traveled to China to compete in the World Police and Fire Games. Central Illinois was represented by three firefighters from Springfield.

Springfield Fire Department Captain Kainan Rinaberger has previously competed in the games in Belfast in 2013, Fairfax County, San Diego, and now China.

Springfield Firefighter Chris Szorc said this was an experience like no other. The firefighters said the long travel time made the competitions a little more difficult.  Despite the fatigue and time change, the men managed to bring home some medals.

In the 500m indoor rowing, individual, Szorc got silver and earned a silver in the team 1,000m with Captain Rinaberger.

Even though they didn’t place, the department’s members combined to finish twelfth in the Ultimate Firefighter Challenge.

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Springfield Fire Department news

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The Springfield Fire Department was called to the 1300 block of West Miller around 7:30 a.m on Tuesday. When firefighters arrived, they found the house heavily involved in flames. While searching for people who may have been trapped inside, a firefighter fell through a hole in the floor into the basement. A mayday alert was immediately issued which triggered a second alarm response to the scene.

Other firefighters were able to rescue the firefighter within 15 minutes. He was taken to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The home is a total loss and the fire department is investigating the cause of the fire.

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Area apparatus orders

From Fire Apparatus Magazine:

Illinois Fire Service Institute, Champaign – Pierce Enforcer pumper 1,500/500.  Delivery in September.

Geneva Fire Department – Pierce Enforcer PUC pumper 1,500/750. Delivery in September.

Lake Forest Fire Department  – Spartan Gladiator/Marion pumper 1,500/850/30. Delivery in November.

Lake Zurich Fire Department – Pierce Saber pumper 1,500/750. Delivery in September.

Mount Prospect Fire Department Pierce Dash CF PUC pumper 1,500/750-gallon tank. Delivery in September.

St. Charles Fire Department – Pierce Dash CF PUC pumper 1,500/750. Delivery in September.

Springfield Fire Department  – Two Pierce Enforcer pumpers 1,500/750. Delivery in September.

thanks Ron

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Springfield Fire Department news

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The City of Springfield and the Springfield Firefighters Local 37 have agreed on a new contract which will be in effect until 2021 It includes a residency clause, whereby anyone hired after January 1st of this year will have six months to move within the city limits.

The last contract expired almost three years ago, and they have been negotiating ever since. This contact is called a great compromise by everyone who worked on the agreement.

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