Archive for June 19th, 2013

Extra-Alarm fire in downstate Hoopeston

Tim Olk drove to Hoopeston, IL (2 hours south of Chicago) to photograph an enormous fire in a large tire recycling facility.

large tire fire in Hoopeston IL

Tin Olk photo

The News-Gazette 

has this story:

HOOPESTON — Scores of firefighters from Vermilion and Iroquois counties continue to battle a blaze which broke out in large tire recycling facility early Wednesday morning.

Some officials fear the fire could burn for days.

Firefighters were called to the fire at J&R Used Tire Service Inc. at 103 Maple St. at 5:20 a.m. When they arrived, the south end of the 400,000-square-foot brick facility was engulfed in flames.

“From the very beginning, it’s just been an overwhelming day,” Hoopeston Fire Chief Cliff Crabtree said around 11 a.m., adding firefighters were just starting to bring the fire under control at that time.

“We knew when we first got on the scene that we were going to have to take a defensive approach because of the type of fire it was,” he continued, adding the building was filled with tires. “Unfortunately, in this circumstance, … you lose the whole building.”

About five employees of the business, owned by Rodney and Janie Rogers, were at work when the fire broke out, but they managed to escape without injury, said Lance Smith, Rodney Rogers’ brother. He said one man was taken to a local hospital for possible smoke inhalation, but he was released later in the morning.

“I expect to be here another 24 to 36 hours,” he said.

Other officials said tire fires could burn for several days.

Shortly after the fire broke out, police evacuated homes and apartment buildings on Maple, Market and Lincoln streets, First Avenue and parts of Second and Third avenues not quite a mile west of the recycling facility, Police Chief Mark Drollinger said. Residents were taken to emergency shelters at Hoopeston Area High School and several local churches.

The Danville Fire Department’s hazardous materials team was also on the scene monitoring the air quality.

Rogers said he spent most of Wednesday talking to insurance officials and coordinating a restart of the business by Friday if the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency gives him approval to restart. He said other recyclers have stepped up to offer assistance to keep his business going that collects tires from almost 1,000 clients in Illinois and Indiana.

Smoke from the fire could be seen as far away as the Bismarck area, about 20 miles south; it looked like dark blue thunderclouds rolling across the horizon. Closer to town, the smell of burning rubber filled the air.

The blaze was being fought by departments from Hoopeston, East Lynn, Wellington, Bismarck, Rossville, Rankin, Potomac, Bluegrass, Danville, Milford, Watseka and other surrounding areas. Firefighters were not only attacking the fire, but also hauling water in from the city, a local bottled-water company, Hoopeston Foods, East Lynn Fertilizer and Crop Production Services, Crabtree said. He also said area farmers were trucking in water in semis. They filled large portable water tanks at various locations to keep a continuous supply of water to the pumpers.

The Red Cross and others were also setting up air-conditioned tents to keep firefighters from being overcome with heat exhaustion.

“The only thing more overwhelming than the fire is the support from the community,” Crabtree said. “Phones have been ringing off the hook from people wanting to donate. They’re taking water and sandwiches around to people on golf carts so the guys on the line don’t have to leave. I can’t thank the people of Hoopeston and the surrounding areas enough.”

“We’ve been told this fire will be going on for several days,” Drollinger said on Wednesday night.

“For this city, it is probably the largest fire Hoopeston has ever seen. It has posed challenges for first responders since it is happening in a residential area.

Ted Fisher, director of the Vermilion County Emergency Management Agency, said  a voluntary evacuation order had been issued for people who lived in the area of the fire.

Smith said the company, which currently has 38 employees, is one of the largest scrap tire haulers and recyclers in the state and has 800 customers in Illinois and Indiana. The company recycles car, semitrailer truck and tractor tires, separates the rubber from metal and other materials, shreds and granulates the rubber and turns it into playground surfaces and mulch, among other products. He said the semi tires are also used to create caution barrels used by road construction crews.

Smith said employees noticed the fire shortly after 5 a.m. and immediately called 911. They also tried to put out the flames with fire extinguishers and a hose attached to an on-site water tank.

But “it took off so quick,” said Smith, who doesn’t know how the fire started. “Water is not really good for extinguishing rubber fires.”

“This is the worst fire I’ve seen in my life,” said Inman, a 51-year resident.

large tire fire in Hoopeston IL

Tin Olk photo

large tire fire in Hoopeston IL

Tin Olk photo

large tire fire in Hoopeston IL

Tin Olk photo

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Illinois fire chief moves to Green Bay

An article in the introduces former Bolingbrook Fire Chief David Litton as the new fire chief for the Green Bay Fire Department.

A former fire chief in suburban Chicago is headed to Green Bay to take the helm of the Green Bay Metro Fire Department.

David Litton, who served most recently in Bolingbrook, Ill., was chosen from among four finalists to become fire chief after a nationwide search that attracted more than 30 applicants.

Litton, 50, said Friday he is excited to be joining the Green Bay fire department, which he said has a rich history and a talented roster of employees.

“I’m absolutely confident that they’re great people, and I’m looking forward to working with all of them,” he said.

Litton was fire chief in Bolingbrook for five years before the community’s elected leaders this spring named their police chief to oversee both police and fire — a consolidation that Green Bay officials briefly considered last year.

Before Bolingbrook, Litton was fire chief for 13 years in another Chicago suburb, University Park, Ill., where he also served for three years as both fire chief and village manager.

Litton’s salary will be $102,574 a year — the top of the city’s range for the position.

The entire article can be found HERE.

thanks Chris

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2013 Chicago Fire Engine Rally & Swap Meet (pt 4)

In addition to the Ahrens Fox, several other units were flowing water at the muster. More images from Steve Redick.

Peotone Fire Protection District

Steve Redick photo

Peotone Fire Protection District

Steve Redick photo

American LaFrance Century Series engine flowing water

Steve Redick photo

Chicago Robert J. Quinn Fire Academy

Steve Redick photo

Peotone Fire Protection District

Steve Redick photo

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Barrington Countryside FPD update

More information on the discussions between the Village of Barrington and the Barrington & Countryside FPD from the Daily Herald:

The Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District is proposing a new model for continued cooperation with the Barrington Fire Department, rather than breaking off their contractual relationship completely at the end of the year.

Under the proposal, the fire district would lease 18 firefighters from the village of Barrington for two years.

These firefighters — roughly half the amount the district wishes to employ — would work for the district’s new chief and alongside other firefighters contracted from a private firm.

The benefit to the district, according to board President Tom Rowan, is that the experience and expertise of today’s workforce would not be lost.

“One of the appeals is we’d already know we have staff we’re familiar with and who know the area.”

The appeal to the village, he hopes, is that this agreement would have the district pay the full costs of these employees — salaries, insurance and pension benefits.

Barrington Village President Karen Darch recently said that one of the financial pressures the village is feeling from the current contract with the district is that Barrington must pay the long-term pension and disability costs for a workforce much larger than it needs itself.

The district covers a 48-square-mile area just outside Barrington which includes portions of Barrington Hills, South Barrington, Lake Barrington, Inverness and unincorporated Cook, Lake and McHenry counties.

Though a separate tax body, the district has always provided fire and paramedic services to its constituents by contracting for staff from Barrington.

Because the district wants to increase its staffing levels but the village doesn’t, plans have been in progress to end their contractual relationship on Jan. 1. The district’s separation plans have gone as far as opening bids for service from five private firefighter-paramedic firms.

The entire article can be found HERE.

Another article pertaining to the dispute from the Daily Herald:

The Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District Monday took another major step in its journey to independence by opening bids from private firefighter-paramedic firms to replace its contract for service from the Barrington Fire Department in 2014.

But district trustees took no action to approve any of the five Chicago-area firms that applied for the job, and said it was too early to know how their annual costs might be affected by such a change.

Each firm bid on annual costs over three years. Bids for the first year ranged from $2.6 million to $3.9 million.

Each bid was for personnel alone. The district already has stations in Barrington Hills and Lake Barrington, and expects to divide the vehicles it co-owns with the village of Barrington between the two taxing bodies later this year.

The district’s consultant, Illinois Fire Chiefs Association Executive Director Robert Buhs, said the district is closely adhering to the timeline for the transition which was laid out in January. A list of 127 tasks is being systematically checked off, including hiring an interim administrator in July.

Buhs said he was recently contacted by Barrington about the possibility of signing an automatic-aid agreement in which both agencies would respond to each other’s calls based on proximity.

District trustees appeared both bemused and amused by this as they considered their communication with the village to be lacking.

“It appears (Barrington officials are) doing the agreement and then giving it to us to sign, which seems very unrealistic,” district Trustee Tom Long said.

Fellow Trustee Paul Heinze suggested it could be made No. 128 on the district’s priority list.

This complete article can be found HERE.

thanks Chris

We have had multiple post on this topic which can be traced back through the most recent article.


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A visit to Engine 68’s house (more)

This from Karl Klotz:

Here is a photo I took of Engine Co. 68’s house on April 27th 2009.  I was able to shoot several closed CFD houses in 2009 and 2010, some of which have been razed within the last year or so.  All are posted on my site,

Old Chicago fire station

Engine 68’s old house. Karl Klotz photo

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