Archive for January 23rd, 2016

New fire chief in Aurora

Excerpts from

Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner on Thursday recommended Fire Marshal Gary Krienitz, a 19-year Aurora Fire Department veteran, as the new Aurora fire chief.

Krienitz, 43, would take office Feb. 20, the day after the retirement of current Chief John Lehman takes effect. Weisner said Krienitz was chosen from a field of six very strong candidates from within the department, a sign of the good leadership developed by Lehman during his time as chief.

Weisner made his announcement Thursday afternoon in the main bay of the Central Fire Station downtown. Many fire department leaders and rank-and-file members attended the announcement, as well as members of the Aurora Police Department, aldermen and members of the public.

The Aurora City Council must approve the appointment. Aldermen will discuss it at a special meeting of the committee of the whole at 5 p.m. Jan. 26.

“When I was in high school at Waubonsie Valley, a friend gave me an opportunity to ride with Medic 4 at Fire Station 4. Little did I know that brief ride-along would have such an impact on who I would become,” he said. “Now to be considered for the position as the next chief of the Aurora Fire Department is such a great honor.”

In 2014, Krienitz was named firefighter of the year in Aurora. Along with Pvt. Jason Larson and Pvt. Dan Murphy, he earned the department’s top award for efforts during a dangerous motel fire that resulted in them saving the lives of two people.

A member of the National Fire Protection Association and the International Association of Arson Investigators, Krienitz holds more than 15 certifications, including being a certified evidence technician, rescue specialist, arson investigator, emergency medical technician, juvenile fire setter counselor, and personal trainer. He has completed more than 50 training courses through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Illinois Fire Service Institute, the Illinois State Police Academy for Arson and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Krienitz earned his fire science degree from the College of DuPage and was a team leader with the DuPage County Fire Investigation Task Force.

Krienitz thanked Lehman for mentoring him “for my entire career.” He also thanked all the firefighters in Aurora, who he said always supported him. He called them “smart and excellent.”

thanks Dan

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Chicago firefighter collects water for residents in Flint, MI

Excerpts from

When Chicago Firefighter Eric Washington got wind of the water crisis in Flint, Mich., he thought of his own childhood growing up in Jeffery Manor on the Far South Side: Both are predominantly black communities that are too often deprived of essential resources.

That empathy is what led Washington to step in and get involved, pledging to collect 1,500 cases of bottled water to donate to the Michigan city, which has been plagued by lead-contaminated drinking water for almost two years.

Washington is asking fellow Chicagoans to drop off donations at Hyde Park Academy High School, 6220 S. Stony Island Ave., on Jan. 30 from 9 a.m. to noon. He plans to drive a truck packed with clean water from Chicago to Flint the next day and drop the cases off to Flint’s First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church.

For those who can’t make it to Woodlawn or would rather contribute monetarily, Washington started a GoFundMe campaign to raise $2,000, which can buy 7,500 bottles.

Washington first reached out to Catrina Tillman, the Flint church’s first lady (pastor’s wife) to see how he could help. Tillman says that Chicagoans have gone far and above in order to help them in their hour of need.

Washington said he initially got the word out through a series of Facebook posts. He’s been overwhelmed by the support he has gotten thus far. So far, he’s collected 130 cases of water to help the residents of Flint.

“Those people are getting sick from that water. They can’t bathe themselves. They can’t wash their clothes,” Washington said. “We have people within reach that are struggling. I definitely don’t mind taking a trip up to Flint to help those people out.”

thanks Dennis

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Firefighting family works along the North Shore

Excerpts from the

When Jerry Kluchka was honored during a Lake Bluff Village Board of Trustees meeting on Dec. 14 for 30 years of service to the Lake Bluff Fire Department, his three firefighter sons were there to share the honor with him.

Tim Kluchka, 30, is a member of the North Chicago Fire Department; Matt Kluchka, 25, works for the Lake Forest Fire Department; and Russell Kluchka, 23, fights fires in Highwood.

Lake Bluff’s department consists entirely of volunteers, and all four Kluchkas serve in their hometown. They said when a call goes out to multiple towns, they head to the blaze but not always from the same place.

“It’s definitely interesting,” Russell Kluchka said. “One time there was a fire in Lake Forest, I got there from Highwood and we all saw each other. People give us a hard time. They say ‘it’s you again.”

Jerry Kluchka, who has lived in Lake Bluff since elementary school, joined the department just before Tim was born.

“I had friends whose fathers were firemen,” Kluchka said. “We got to go inside the fire station when I was a little guy. In Lake Bluff they blew the siren to call the volunteers. We lived nearby and ran down to the station to see the fire trucks leave.”

Using his mechanical skills, Jerry started volunteering. He said he worked on the equipment and it was not long before he was a firefighter. As his family started to grow, the next generation of Kluchka men hung around the firehouse like their father did as a youth.

All four are paramedics. Tim, Matt and Russell said they all took EMT courses while in high school and were volunteering in their teens.

“There were times I ditched school to go on an ambulance call,” Tim Kluchka said. “I’d come in for the last periods (of the day) and got some looks.”

“My wife got some calls about that,” Jerry Kluchka added.

Though the younger generation of Kluchkas are full-time firemen, Jerry Kluchka is a volunteer.

thanks Dan

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Chicago FD LODD anniversary (more)

This from Eric Haak:

Here are some images to go along with Scott Peterson’s post from the 12th.  The first three images taken during the fire fighting efforts.  Image 4 was during the recovery and image 5 shows the recovered helmets of the fallen firefighters.  Photographers are unknown and all images are part of my personal collection.

historic photo of huge warehouse fire in Chicago that killed four firemen

A warehouse fire January 12, 1951 at 320 North LaSalle Street in Chicago claimed the lives oftener Chicago firefighters and a member of the Chicago Fire Insurance Patrol. Eric Haak collection

historic photo of Chicago fireboat in action

A warehouse fire January 12, 1951 at 320 North LaSalle Street in Chicago claimed the lives oftener Chicago firefighters and a member of the Chicago Fire Insurance Patrol. Eric Haak collection

historic photo of Chicago fireboat in action

A warehouse fire January 12, 1951 at 320 North LaSalle Street in Chicago claimed the lives oftener Chicago firefighters and a member of the Chicago Fire Insurance Patrol. Eric Haak collection

historic photo of firemen attending to a fallen comrade

Eric Haak collection

helmets from firement that perished during a warehouse fire in Chicago

The recovered helmets of the fallen firefighters. Eric Haak collection

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