Archive for December 27th, 2013

Antioch creates fire safety commission

The Daily Herald has an article on a new fire safety commission in Antioch to explore various avenues of cooperation and possibly consolidation of emergency services for both the village and unincorporated township of Antioch.

Residents in Antioch and Antioch Township have … four fire or rescue agencies — First Fire Protection District of Antioch, Antioch Rescue Squad, the Antioch Volunteer Fire Department, and Superior Ambulance Service — provide services to about 28,000 residents in a 37-square-mile area.

But the number of agencies and the niches they’ve carved out in the community have also created a confusing system of service now being targeted for a possible overhaul to make it more simple and efficient, local officials said.

Antioch Village Administrator Jim Keim and Antioch Fire Chief John Nixon are members of a newly created fire safety commission including village, township and fire district officials that has been tasked with cutting through the confusion and replacing it with the best — and most cost-effective — protection available.

Village and township officials acknowledge that board disputes, ownership confusion and the ever-changing needs of fire and rescue have contributed to create a duplication of services in some areas in and around Antioch.

The quilt of emergency services begins with the First Fire Protection District of Antioch, the village of Antioch, and the Antioch Volunteer Fire Department. The volunteer fire department provides fire protection in the village and the fire district answers fire calls in unincorporated areas of the township, Nixon said. Roughly 65 percent of the fire calls are in the village, while 35 percent are elsewhere, he said. The boundaries are less clear when it comes to equipment, manpower and rescue services, officials said.

Nixon said most area fire stations, equipment and fire trucks are co-owned by the fire district and the village. The volunteer fire department also provides manpower to the fire district to fight fires in unincorporated areas. And, rescue calls are split between the Antioch Rescue Squad in unincorporated areas and Superior Ambulance in the village, he said. … Nixon … stepped down as the fire district chief earlier this year but still serves as a commander at the fire district and is chief of the Antioch Volunteer Fire Department.

To address the problem, the commission is reviewing four ideas, and will present the findings to officials from the three boards in January. They are:

• Give control of all the agencies to the fire district, and expand its board to five trustees to include two village-appointed members with a rotating chairman.

• Expand the village fire department operation to cover Antioch and the township, taking over control of the fire district in most areas.

• Completely split the two entities and create a full-time village fire department and a full-time township fire district,

• Keep things as they are, and continue to pool resources and money.

The toughest aspect of any change will likely involve the future of the Antioch Rescue Squad, which has been serving area residents since 1938. In May, the rescue squad elected to end its service in the village after leadership could not come to terms on a contract with the village board. At issue were various conflicts that began when village board members tried to exert more control over the squad after a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by three female squad members that came to light in May 2012. The lawsuit led to the state issuing fines and requesting operational changes at the rescue squad amid findings that squad members had unauthorized access to prescription drugs and patients were mistreated during ambulance runs.

Things worsened when former rescue squad treasurer John Edgell was charged with — and later pleaded guilty to — theft for stealing $25,000 from the squad. Those problems led to township Supervisor Steve Smouse stepping down as the rescue squad president and to the retirement of former rescue squad Chief Wayne Sobczak. The rescue squad is now headed by former Deputy Chief Brian DeKind.

After the rescue squad left the village, its officials signed a one-year contract with the fire district to continue handling rescue calls in unincorporated areas. Superior Ambulance Service was hired at the village’s expense to cover ambulance calls for village residents.

Nixon admitted that, should the various entities consolidate, it could lead to the end of the Antioch Rescue Squad.

Antioch rescue squad Chief Brian DeKind said he favors being a part of the discussion and understands there are many scenarios that could play out before a resolution is reached. “I’m certainly in favor of doing what is in the best interests of the people of Antioch,” he said. 

The idea of consolidating Antioch-area fire and rescue services is not new. A study completed in 2008 by the Illinois Fire Chief’s Association showed the Antioch Volunteer Fire Department, Antioch Rescue Squad and the First Fire Protection District should consolidate, Nixon said, but it was never implemented.

thanks Dan

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West Chicago FPD looking for interim fire chief

This from the West Chicago Fire Protection District:


West Chicago is looking for a interim Fire Chief.  Attached is the document that Chief Hodge sent out today.  If you could please post it so we can get the word out.

Thank You
Andy Maxwell
West Chicago FPD seeking interim fire chief

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Underwriters Laboratories studies house fire

ABC7 has an article about firefighting research being conducted at Underwriter’s Laboratories in Northbrook.

Most house fires are so fast and powerful you only have about three minutes after an alarm to get out safely. Now one Chicago area laboratory is trying to save lives and homes with its groundbreaking research.

Researchers say this is a new and innovative idea. It’s goal: to put fires out faster.

“What we are standing in is a home– no rooms, no pictures on the wall,” said John Drengenberg, consumer safety director, Underwriters Laboratories. The company known for protecting consumers, Underwriters Laboratories, is running the study in a specially designed warehouse in Northbrook. Scientists and firefighters are here from around the country.

Within 45 seconds of lighting the fire, smoke billows through the roof. About 2 minutes later, flames shoot up as the roof is consumed.

The fire burned for 30 minutes, reaching temperatures of 500 degrees. Firefighters here are trying to figure out the fastest and best way to put out a fire.

“It’s not as simple as you always put water here, or you always use this type of nozzle. It’s understanding how the fire spreads by combing it with multiple types of suppression,” said Steve Kerber, director, UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute.

They’re trying to figure out the best way to attack the fire with the water, and where exactly to spray it. They started this particular house fire in the attic. “So we are seeing an increased number of attic fires due to the insulation people are putting on the outside of their home. So fires that start on the outside are spreading up to the attic, as well as lightning strikes and electrical shorts,” said Kerber.

And there’s less time to get out of any fire now. You used to have 17 minutes to run after the smoke alarm went off. That time is down to 3-4 minutes, because of more synthetic items like pillows, furniture and building materials now in most homes. They make fires burn faster and hotter.

Fire prevention experts say you need to properly maintain electrical, heating , ventilation and air conditioning systems and chimneys. Also, get those areas of the home inspected before moving in.

“Just where is the heat? Where are the dangers for firefighters and of course for the occupants,” said Drengenberg.

The detailed results of the firefighting study could take several months and Underwriters Laboratories will share them with fire departments across the country.

thanks Dan

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