Archive for August 22nd, 2015

Mundelein eliminates fire chief position

Excerpts from the

Earlier this month, Mundelein decided not to fill its vacant fire chief position and instead promoted its police chief into a job that oversees both departments. Now officials say more government consolidation might be in the works.

Village Administrator John Lobaito said the new structure will be in place for 12 to 24 months as a trial run, while Mundelein researches options for sharing resources with neighboring municipalities. Nearby Countryside Fire Protection District has already expressed interest, according to Countryside Fire Chief Jeff Steingart.

“When everything started [with Mundelein], we opened the door to take a peek and begin a dialogue on what we can do together in the future,” Steingart said. “It’s still really early on and they’re reviewing all their options, but once things get settled in, our two leaderships will be sitting down together.”

Mundelein’s leadership change comes after more than three months without a fire chief or deputy fire chief. Tim Sashko retired April 30 when a neck injury resurfaced after eight years as fire chief. Shortly thereafter, Deputy Chief Tim Leidig took a job in West Chicago leaving Mundelein without a top fire administrator.

On Aug. 10, village trustees created a new position called public safety director to lead both the police and fire departments, and promoted Police Chief Eric Guenther into that job, essentially taking one administrator off the payroll.

“This is not necessarily the end game,” Lobaito said before trustees voted on Aug. 10. “It is intended to be in place until we decide it doesn’t work or until we find a better way.”

Battalion Chief Ben Yoder, who was doing all administrative duties the past three months, was promoted to deputy fire chief during that same Aug. 10 meeting. A series of internal promotions will yield one firefighter opening, Guenther said, but otherwise Mundelein will not add any new positions in either department.

The ordinance Mundelein approved specifically says the jobs of fire chief and police chief will not be eliminated, but rather left vacant in case trustees want to restore the old administrative system in the future.

In the meantime, Mundelein will save more than $135,000 by not replacing Sashko. According to payroll documents, Sashko’s final salary was $147,113 per year and Guenther’s new stipend is $971.66 per month. ($11,659)

Guenther’s salary as police chief is $153,340, according to payroll documents, which equates to a 7.6 percent annual raise.

Countryside already shares a lot of coverage with Mundelein’s fire department, Steingart said, and sharing more administrators wouldn’t be too complicated. The Countryside fire station along Midlothian Road is actually in Mundelein, although the fire district is not responsible for the surrounding Mundelein homes and shopping centers.

Countryside is an independent taxing body that provides fire services to approximately 35,000 residents in a 24-square-mile zone including parts of Vernon Hills, Lincolnshire, Long Grove, Hawthorn Woods, Indian Creek, Kildeer and unincorporated areas.

In the mid-1990s, when Mundelein’s boundaries inched closer to Countryside’s Midlothian Road fire station, representatives from both groups made an agreement, Steingart said: Countryside would help Mundelein along Midlothian Road and Mundelein would help Countryside along Route 45.

“I think we can work toward full consolidation, and not just Mundelein and Countryside, but other agencies too,” Steingart said. “That’s a long haul because there are a lot of moving pieces involved, such as needing to go to voters. But we all want to save lives and many of us help each other already.”

Consolidation is already moving forward in the dispatch area, Steingart pointed out. For several years, the Vernon Hills police department has operated a dispatch center that also coordinates Countryside, Lincolnshire police and Libertyville police and fire services.

That arrangement allows each municipality to reduce costs, while improving communication when issues arise, Steingart said, and a study is underway to see if an even bigger merger can occur. Further consolidation would allow for better prices by buying in bulk, expanding lower level jobs in a reorganization and improving service all without raising taxes.

Vernon Hills Police Chief Mark Fleischhauer, who is responsible for the dispatch center, expanded upon that subject during a July 7 village board meeting. He said the Lake County Emergency Telephone System Board is beginning a $350,000 study on the possibility of having one countywide dispatch center.

The Emergency Telephone System Board also contributed $2 million in August 2014 toward a new series of radio towers in Lake County that are owned by Illinois but designed and operated by Motorola, according to Lake County Board minutes. Lake County fronted the other $7 million to install the new technology, according to meeting minutes, because the radios used by sheriffs and public works crews are becoming obsolete.

Once those towers are in place, anyone with the new handheld radios and new dispatch center equipment can use the network, according to Lt. Mike Gregory of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

The Vernon Hills dispatch center is doing just that.

On July 7, Fleischhauer convinced Vernon Hills trustees to support the study for a consolidated county dispatch center and approve spending to switch the current dispatch center onto the Motorola network.

Previously, Vernon Hills used a small series of radio towers owned and maintained by a few local municipalities. Now, the cost for a radio network is being split between state agencies and a growing number of participating municipalities throughout Illinois.

Fleischhauer said if a countywide dispatch center is built, then crews in Vernon Hills, Lincolnshire, Libertyville and Countryside will already have the radios.

Mundelein police and fire services are not part of the consolidated dispatch center in Vernon Hills, and Mundelein officials say they’re still researching their options when it comes to radio networks.

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Area native killed in Washington State wildfire

Excerpts from

The Rev. Mary Zajac, is mourning the death of her son Andrew, one of three firefighters who died after their vehicle crashed and was engulfed by flames in a Washington wildfire.

Authorities on Thursday identified the three as Andrew Zajac, 26, Tom Zbyszewski, 20, and Richard Wheeler, 31, who were battling the wildfire near Twisp, Washington.

“The firefighters were engaged in initial attack operations and were involved in a vehicle accident when it is believed that the fire overtook the vehicle,” said a statement from Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

Zajac lived in Winthrop, in Okanogan County, and was a wildland firefighter with the Forest Service, according to The Seattle Times. He received a degree in biology from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland in 2010 and a master’s of science degree from the University of South Dakota in 2014. He had previously worked as firefighter in New Mexico.

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Rock the Badges Battle of the Bands

Excerpts from

Rock the Badges Battle of the Bands in Chicago

Members of the Chicago Police Department and Chicago Fire Department will square off on stage today for bragging rights and to raise money for two charities that help the families of fallen officers and firefighters.

Proceeds from the third annual Rock the Badges concert will benefit the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation and Ignite the Spirit, two charities that help the families of officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty.

The first two Rock the Badges events raised $20,000 for the charities, said organizer Chicago Police Lt. John Garrido.

Doors open at 2 p.m., and the opening bands will take the stage at 3 p.m., organizers said. The competition will take place from 5-10 p.m. outside at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave.




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As seen around … the street

This from Michael Maida:

Attached are photos of the new 2015 Pierce Enforcer for Huntley, Huntley Truck 983, and Rockford Engine 10, a 2013 Pierce Saber PUC.

Also attached is the new 2014 Pierce Impel XM pumper from McHenry, plus photos of Ambulance 51, Truck 12, and the older Engine 41 which I believe is a 2012.  All these photos were taken between April and August 15th of this year.

Please consider these photos for the website.


Michael Maida RN

Huntley FPD fire truck

Michael Maida photo

Huntley FPD fire truck

Michael Maida photo

Rockford FD fire engine

Michael Maida photo

McHenry Township FPD apparatus

Michael Maida photo

McHenry Township FPD fire engine

Michael Maida photo

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