Archive for September 5th, 2015

Elgin FD invests in strategic planning

Excerpts from

Elgin Fire Chief John Fahy is a fan of the classic Yogi Berra quote “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” That philosophy, of having a roadmap into the future, is one of the reasons the Elgin Fire Department recently completed its first, 2015-2020 strategic plan, Fahy said.

Developed this spring with the help of The Center for Public Safety Excellence working as consultants for about $15,000, the final plan was released last week. Elgin joins just 10 percent of fire departments nationwide that have developed formal strategic plans, Fahy said.

Assistant Fire Chief Dave Schmidt was one of 32 internal stakeholders — fire department staff — that helped refine and define the information they received from external stakeholders who attended focus groups.

Previous plans were not formalized and often left the rank-and-file firefighters out of the process, Fahy said. Neither did they bring in the public to get an outside look at the department. Also, with many of the department’s top leadership getting close to retirement age — including Fahy, assistant chiefs and battalion chiefs — the plan also helps to formalize succession plans in the department.

“By 2020, the majority of the staff will probably be retired,” with 30 years on the job, Schmidt noted.

At the end of the process, the strategic plan looked at seven main areas and created goals for each. Those areas are internal communications, external communications and community outreach, disaster preparedness, fire prevention, workforce planning and development, health and wellness, and public education.

In the past, Fahy said, it was easier for a fire chief to go before city councils and ask for needed equipment. But in a new data-driven age, fire departments need to not just justify their needs, but show data on why it is needed and what the benefit would be not just to the department, but the community. The department and its consultants invited 130 community stakeholders to the focus groups. Of that, 90 showed up, Fahy said.

The consultants were amazed, he said, because it shows a high degree of public buy-in to the department and city operations. Once the focus groups where over, the internal stakeholders took over and refined the ideas brought up during the public input sessions.

Fahy said he also stayed out of the process to a large degree, knowing firefighters may be more willing to speak their minds when the boss wasn’t in the room.

Often, boards can create strategic plans then watch those plans gather dust on the shelf, Fahy and Schmidt agreed. Each of the seven goals have objectives with timeframes, tasks and estimates for funding. Each objective will be assigned to personnel responsible for completing it. Many of the objectives build upon the one before it being completed.

The workforce planning and development goal looks at current staffing levels and how they relate to service demands, then further identifies staffing needs based on demand for service.

Further down the line, those service and staffing objectives include evaluating personnel management and organizational development programs — preparing current firefighters for future leadership positions.

Elgin firefighters, as well as other departments nationwide, have reported fighting fewer fires as homes are built better. Here, about 75 percent of total calls for service are for medical calls, and 25 percent for fires, crashes, hazardous materials and other reasons, Schmidt said. The strategic plan will help determine the best way to deploy existing personnel and equipment to serve that need, Fahy said.

“At the end … we will be a more-efficient, more-trained and a more communicative department,” Fahy said.

thanks Dan

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New area ambulance deliveries

This from Ron Wolkoff:


New International 4400 chassis on a custom Horton conversion

new ambulance for the Huntley FPD

Foster Coach photo

New Ford F450 chassis on a custom Horton conversion

New ambulance for the Lake Forest FD

Foster Coach photo


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Box Alarm for the house fire in Glencoe, 9-4-15

This from Larry Shapiro:

Glencoe firefighters were called to 986 Skokie Ridge Drive around 8:30PM on Friday night (9/4/15) for smoke in the house. The alarm was upgraded to a Code 4 for the working fire on arrival and then to a Box Alarm for additional companies within 10 minutes. The fire was located in the basement and the walls at the rear of the house. There were no reported injuries. Here are some images and a brief video.

Pierce fire engine with hose off at night fire scene

Larry Shapiro photo

smoke from ranch house at night fire scene

Larry Shapiro photo

firemen climb ground ladder at house fire

Larry Shapiro photo

firemen at night fire scene with smoke

Larry Shapiro photo

firefighters at night fire scene with flash lights

Larry Shapiro photo

Pierce heavy rescue squad at night fire scene with light tower

Larry Shapiro photo

white fire engine at night fire scene with equipment

Larry Shapiro photo

More photos are at

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