Archive for May 23rd, 2015

Norwood Park FPD Deputy Chief retires

Excerpts from the

The last day of Deputy Chief John Kovalcik’s 28-year career at the Norwood Park Fire Department was marked by a farewell from the people of Norridge and Harwood Heights … on May 8 at his retirement party.

On May 26, Kovalcik will start a new job as an administrative analyst for the Des Plaines Fire Department — a position he took, he said, because he was ready for a new challenge. His new job in Des Plaines is strictly a desk job, he said, which requires mostly policies and procedures writing, along with budget management and project oversight.

“I’ll miss the family-like atmosphere we had here the most,” he said. “Being a fireman, you’re together for 24 hours straight sometimes, and you learn to depend and rely on each other for everything.”

The father of three daughters — Katie, 19, Ashley, 21, and Amy, 23 — has deep roots in Norwood Park Township. He went to Ridgewood High School, where he met his wife Laurie, and volunteered on the Pennoyer School Board for four years from 2007 to 2011.

“I’ve lived in this town since I was 2 years old, and I still live here — there’s a reason for that,” Kovalcik said. “The nice thing [about being a firefighter in Norwood Park] is that I was able to help people I knew personally — it was rewarding in that respect.”

Sometimes, the call of duty extended far beyond the township boundaries.

In 2001, it was the day after 9/11 when Kovalcik and a group of about 50 other firefighters volunteered to go to New York City. After working a 22-hour shift the night before, Kovalcik and his colleagues packed up their equipment and headed to Schiller Park, where other Chicago-area firefighters who had also volunteered to go had assembled.

The [trip] was canceled, however, because New York City was already inundated with thousands of other firefighters, mostly from the East Coast, who had already arrived at Ground Zero.

In 2005, Kovalcik spent two weeks in New Orleans with Norwood Park Fire Chief Kevin Stenson and now-retired fire fighter Carmen Rinaldi. The three traveled to Louisiana together to help with disaster relief following Hurricane Katrina. The three of them arrived three days after the hurricane hit, and spent several days outside camping in tents in dry patches of land with other fire fighters until a fire station opened up following flood-clean-up and the crews could move in.

Stationed in the French Quarter with about 20 other Illinois-area fire fighters for most of their time in Louisiana, Kovalcik and the crew spent most of their time fighting house fires and removing trees, he said.

Dan Johnson was sworn in as the new deputy fire chief of Norwood Park on May 11.

thanks Dan

Tags: , ,

Vacant house burn down in South Holland, 5/23/15

fire truck with house fire

Tim Olk photo

houe engulfed in flames

Tim Olk photo

firemen pose with burning house

Tim Olk photo

fire truck with house fire

Tim Olk photo

fire truck with house fire

Tim Olk photo

additional photos at

Tags: , , , ,

Blood drive for firefighter’s daughter

Today in Highland Park

Excerpts from

The City of Highland Park and the Highland Park Fire Department will host a Memorial Day blood drive to support a fellow firefighter’s daughter’s continued fight against a rare cancer, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 23, at Headquarters Fire Station #33, 1130 Central Ave., Highland Park.

Kylia Abbott’s stage four neuroblastoma diagnosis came after her one-year exam in January 2014. It’s a rare cancer where malignant (cancer) cells form in nerve tissue of the adrenal gland, neck, chest, or spinal cord. Her aggressive treatment at University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital required nearly 20 blood transfusions.

The family is grateful for the support they continue to receive from Abbott’s colleagues-many of whom have made sacrifices of their own time to allow both him and his wife, Kelly, to be with their daughter during her treatments.

This is the second year that the fire department has supported Kylia Abbott, 2, the daughter of firefighter Nathan Abbott, with a Memorial Day blood drive. He’s a former U.S. Marine who was awarded the Purple Heart during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

For Abbott’s colleagues, the chance to again honor his daughter with a blood drive on the military’s most solemn day is the perfect fit.

“We’re in the career of service-including service to our own,” says Highland Park Fire Chief Dan Pease. “In our endless effort to save lives, we now focus on trying to help a brother and his family in their time of need.”

Kylia’s grandmother says that blood donations were the key to keeping Kylia in good health while she awaited her recent stem cell transfusion. “Kylia’s treatment is a credit not only to her doctors, but also her ability to get blood transfusions when her condition weakens her bone marrow. These blood transfusions were vital in allowing Kylia to be more alert, which in turn, helped her to fight this cancer.”

Appointments for the blood drive are preferred, but all walk-ins are welcome. Donors can schedule their appointment by calling LifeSource at (877) 543-3768, or visiting and making an appointment using group code 344D.

thanks Dan

Tags: , ,

Naperville FD gets drone

Excerpts from the

Naperville plans to put drones into use soon, although it’s unclear so far exactly how, when or where it will be done.

The city last month spent $1,200 on a drone for the fire department. But policy issues need to be considered before drones are activated by the city.

… city resident Todd Peterson, supports the devices’ use for public safety purposes. Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis emphasized the productive purposes for which the drone will be used and said significant restrictions are in place.

“In weather events where we have flooding situations and it’s very unsafe to send somebody near an area of the river, we could sent a drone – certainly not in a public area,” Puknaitis said, adding that the implements’ overhead surveillance functions also can be of great help in search and rescue operations. “Under other fire operational conditions, maybe collapses, other situations like that, we could see using this. … This not anything more than an additional tool to be used under very specific applications.”

Tags: ,