Archive for November 21st, 2013

Prospect Heights Box Alarm 11-21-13 (pt 1)

This from Larry Shapiro:

A Prospect Heights homeowner called at roughly 6:20PM to report smoke in the house at 415 Cherry Creek Lane. As this street is on the northern edge of the Prospect Heights Fire Protection District, the first unit to arrive was Arlington Heights Engine 4. They reported light smoke showing and pulled a line. Prospect Heights units arrived within minutes with Engine 39, Squad 9, Tanker 9, and Battalion 9.

Prospect Heights Fire Department fights house fire at 415 Cherry Creek Lane 11-21-13

Smoke pushes from a 2nd floor window at 415 Cherry Creek Lane in Prospect Heights, Larry Shapiro photo

Prospect Heights Fire Department fights house fire at 415 Cherry Creek Lane 11-21-13

Palatine firefighters raise a ladder to support the interior crews. Larry Shapiro photo


The house is located in a cul-de-sac at the end of the street, in an area without fire hydrants. Long Grove Tanker 55 was also en route as part of the Code 3 automatic aid dispatch, as well as Wheeling Engine 23 and Battalion 24, plus Palatine Ambulance 83, . The alarm was upgraded immediately to a Code 4 for the working fire which brought Northbrook Tower 12, Palatine Rural Tanker 36, Lincolnshire-Riverwoods Squad 51, Glenview Ambulance 8, and Mt. Prospect Engine 14.

Prospect Heights Fire Department fights house fire at 415 Cherry Creek Lane 11-21-13

Prospect Heights Tanker 9 nurses Arlington Heights Engine 4 in front of the house. Larry Shapiro photo

Before Engine 4 used their 500 gallons, Tanker 9 was nursing them with a 3,000-gallon tank that was supplemented quickly by another 3,000 gallons from Tanker 55.  The nearest hydrant was across Hintz Road in Wheeling, 1/2 a mile away. As the nursing operation was underway, Squad 9 dropped their full bed consisting of 1,500′ of 5″ and then Engine 39 dropped another 700′. Since this supply line crossed Hintz Road, the police department activated an ILEAS Box Alarm for additional police units from Mt. Prospect, Arlington Heights, Wheeling, and Northbrook.

Prospect Heights Fire Department fights house fire at 415 Cherry Creek Lane 11-21-13

A section of the 2200′ hose lay from the fire scene to the nearest hydrant. Larry Shapiro photo

Prospect Heights Fire Department fights house fire at 415 Cherry Creek Lane 11-21-13

Prospect Heights Engine 39 on a hydrant across Hintz Road supplies water through 2200′ of 5″ hose. Larry Shapiro photo

Companies made an interior attack on the fire which was reportedly in a closet area and communicated to multiple levels of attic space. Heavy smoke pushed from the ridge vent, windows, and eaves. A vent hole was cut in the roof over the garage which allowed heavy fire to escape.

Prospect Heights Fire Department fights house fire at 415 Cherry Creek Lane 11-21-13

Fire vents from the attic above the garage. Larry Shapiro photo

The alarm was upgraded to a Box Alarm as conditions began to deteriorate. Additional companies included a quint from Palatine, a tower ladder from Buffalo Grove, a Deerfield squad, a Morton Grove squad that was running as Niles Service Truck 2, a tanker from Elk Grove Township, engines from Des Plaines and North Maine. Chief officers arriving on various alarms included Niles Battalion 2 (for North Maine Battalion 1), Glenview Battalion 6, Northbrook 1100, Wheeling 2400, and Long Grove 5500 in addition to Prospect Heights Chief 900 and 901.

The interior crews were able to knock down the fire preventing an evacuation and subsequent defensive attack. Most of the box alarm companies were not used.

Prospect Heights Fire Department fights house fire at 415 Cherry Creek Lane 11-21-13

Smoke vents from the large, two-story house at 415 Cherry Creek Lane in Prospect Heights. Larry Shapiro photo

Here is a link to a full gallery if images.

A video has been added.



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As seen around the area …

This from a reader:

I saw a new FDNY squad on it’s way to New York  on the highway in Indiana.

Mike Maida

Seagrave fire engine enroute to New York City.

Seagrave unit enroute to New York City. Mike Maida photo

Seagrave fire engine enroute to New York City.

FDNY requires that all department markings be covered during delivery. Mike Maida photo


Seagrave fire engine enroute to New York City.

Seagrave delivery of a new FDNY squad. Mike Maida photo

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Dixmoor to shutdown fire department (more)

The letter informing of the dissolution of the Dixmoor Fire Department

Dixmoor to decommission their fire department

Letter of intent

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Carpentersville firefighters and village talk about staffing issues

The Daily Herald has a followup article about the dispute between the Carpentersville firefighter’s union and the village management.

Carpentersville and the union that represents its 32 full-time firefighters are in the midst of resolving issues that came up after both sides signed off on a three-year contract, officials confirmed Tuesday.

At the same time, village officials reiterated that the recent staffing changes they implemented within the fire department do not jeopardize residents’ safety.

“I’m totally confident in the ability of our safety people to protect the village of Carpentersville,” Village President Ed Ritter said Tuesday night at the end of a board meeting. “Our training, our efficiency, our improved equipment all make me very confident. I would not put the citizens at risk just to save a dollar.”

Authorities declined to get into the details of what issues are being discussed, but Village Manager J. Mark Rooney indicated that the village’s change to fire department staffing was one of them. “We are in active conversations with the union to possibly come to some resolutions of some of the issues that they’ve had with our staffing model,” Rooney said.

Rick Nieves, president of International Association of Fire Fighters Carpentersville Local 4790, declined to detail what the parties are attempting to hash out.

“We are collaboratively making efforts to find solutions that are mutually beneficial,” Nieves said. Nieves has previously said he’s concerned as few as eight firefighters may be staffing the village’s three fire stations, down from the previous minimum of 11 or 12.

As well, Station No. 1 is the only one that can respond to an emergency with both an ambulance and a fire engine, while the other two stations will send one or the other. Previously, each of the village’s three stations could dispatch both an engine and an ambulance.

As a result, Carpentersville will likely rely more on the East Dundee, West Dundee and Rutland Dundee fire protection districts to make up for the difference in the staffing and apparatus changes, Nieves said.

“The fire department needs to have five (firefighters) in each station,” Scholl said. “The board’s new staffing model means that greater than 50 percent of all ambulance requests on the east side of the village — one in two — have a response time greater than four minutes and brain death starts occurring after four minutes without oxygen.”

Since the staffing changes took place Oct. 19, Carpentersville responded to 224 calls and the average response time was four minutes and six seconds, Public Safety Director Al Popp said.

“They have been continuing to do an extraordinary job,” Popp said of the firefighters.

Officials have said the full-time firefighters are upset over the loss of overtime opportunities.

They also said the changes allow them to staff according to daily demands and save $300,000 in overtime expenses.

thanks Dan

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Dixmoor to shutdown fire department

The Southtown Star, a Sun-Times publication, is reporting that the village of Dixmoor is closing the Dixmoor Fire Department effective December 1, 2013.

Financially struggling Dixmoor has decided to dissolve its fire department at the end of the month.

In a letter dated Tuesday, the village attorney notified the union representing fire department employees “that this shall serve as notice that the Village will be moving forward with implementing the dissolution of the Fire Department. The final effective date shall be December 1, 2013.”

Earlier this year, newly elected Mayor Dorothy Armstrong said Dixmoor was facing a budget deficit of more than $1 million. Armstrong said it was costing the village $773,000 a year, a third of its revenue, to maintain its fire department, which had 20 firefighters.

I tried to reach Armstrong for comment but was unsuccessful. However, several village employees confirmed that the fire department was being disbanded Dec. 1.

“The new mayor has been trying to do this for three years, going back to the time when she was a trustee,” said Tim McDonald, president of Local 73 of the Service Employees International Union, which represents the employees. “The village board passed a resolution during a special meeting this week to disband the department and didn’t even allow for public comment before the vote was taken.

“When she (Armstrong) called for a vote, trustees asked if they could comment, and the mayor told them they could comment after the roll call. This is a joke, and this is why Dixmoor will always be looked on as a joke by serious people.” McDonald said that even before the village board voted to dissolve the fire department, it had laid off six of the 12 full-time firefighters. The village also employs about a dozen part-timers.

A firefighter who said “we’re not allowed to talk publicly about this” told me that Dixmoor is planning to have the Harvey Fire Department provide fire protection for the village and to pay a private ambulance service to provide paramedics.

“I called the Harvey clerk, and they (city council) don’t even have a meeting scheduled until Dec. 9, so I don’t know what Dixmoor is going to do after Nov. 30, the last effective date our guys will be working,” McDonald said.

Dixmoor is one of the smallest and poorest suburbs in the Chicago area, with a population of 3,644, according to the 2010 census. It showed that the median household income was $38,817 and 35.6 percent of Dixmoor residents live in poverty.

The village has a history of political scandals. For a time, it had a park district police force of more than 100 part-time officers and a full-time police chief — even though the park district owned only one park.

No one mowed the grass at the small park, the cyclone fence was rusting and all the playground equipment was broken or unusable. A bond issue of more than $100,000 had been sold to build a fieldhouse, but no fieldhouse was built.

A former park board president and several other park district officials eventually went to prison for stealing the district funds.

In another scandal, Donald Luster, who was elected mayor in 2001, promising to “Bring the Luster back to Dixmoor,” was sentenced to two years on probation for fraud and failing to file an Illinois income tax return. He had collected unemployment insurance during 1999 while earning more than $9,000 a week.

As recently as last year, former Dixmoor Mayor Keevan Grimmett was accused of living in his village hall office. Grimmett was kicked off the election ballot last spring because the local election board found that he did not live at his registered address.

A year ago, Trustee Michael Smith resigned after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of stealing gasoline from the town.

And in February, news reports revealed that only three of Dixmoor’s five police cars had gas, and the fire chief complained that his staff wasn’t being paid.

The union spokesman told me said Dixmoor firefighters are paid “about $12 to $13 an hour, so they’re by no means highly compensated. They’re basically out there risking their lives for their community for 28 grand a year.”

McDonald told me that Local 73 won a grievance against Dixmoor for back pay for firefighters but had not yet collected.

“We were being nice guys and weren’t asking the village to pay up,” he said. “But we don’t have any reason to play nice any more if they’re going to get rid of the fire department.

“They owe about $12,000 to each fire department employee because they gave raises to the police department and didn’t compensate the fire department personnel.”

McDonald said the Local 73 contract with the village that requires that its members get pay raises if the compensation of any other village workers is increased.

I’m not sure if it makes sense for a small village such as Dixmoor to have a fire department when it’s struggling to survive financially (due to falling revenue, incompetence and graft).

I suggested as much to McDonald, who replied, “The people of the village deserve their own fire department. What’s going to happen to the people in Dixmoor if a neighboring fire department is off fighting a fire in its own area and can’t respond?

“And if this village is struggling financially, where is it going to come up with the money to pay our people the money they are owed? It makes no sense.”

It’s nearly impossible to find a government official in Dixmoor who’s willing to comment about anything on the record. Given the village’s sorry political history and resulting bad publicity, maybe that’s understandable.

But I’ve been warning folks for years that there are a number of south suburbs facing financial collapse. Dixmoor is one of those.

Dissolving the fire department might be the right decision, but I wouldn’t blame the residents if they questioned the credibility of their elected leaders.

As poor as many of the residents are, they still pay taxes for village services.

The fact is, they haven’t had much to show for their money over the years.

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