Archive for April 30th, 2016

Elmhurst Fire Department news

Excerpts from

The Elmhurst Fire Department has three firefighter vacancies it hasn’t replaced because of state budgetary concerns.

Elmhurst City Manager Jim Grabowski addressed the issue at the April 18 City Council meeting after residents spoke about the vacancies at the April 4 and 11 meetings.

Elmhurst resident Geoff Gaebel spoke during the public comment portion of the April 18 meeting. Gaebel, a firefighter in another municipality, said the Elmhurst Fire Department has been short three firemen for about a year, bringing the staffing down to the lowest level since 1999.

The problem with the shortage, Gaebel said, is either the fire trucks are operating below standard levels or firefighters are working overtime to make up for the staffing insufficiency.

“When the apparatus runs with less than three personnel, bad things happen,” Gaebel said. “Bad things happen to the firefighters; bad things happen to the city, to the residents, to the buildings, to the lives of this town.”

Gaebel cited a National Fire Protection Association document and a City Managers Association study that states at least a four-person crew is needed to pump and deliver water and perform search and rescue.

Grabowski provided the city council and residents with the reasoning behind not hiring firefighters for the three vacant positions. He emphasized that despite the shortage the fire department is performing at the expected standards.

“I want to stress that the residents of Elmhurst are safe right now as we were nine months ago and nine years ago,” Grabowski said.

He went on to say he has not authorized hiring the three replacements because of the state budget crisis.

“The potential direct effect of [the Illinois budget crisis] to Elmhurst is a proposal to eliminate $2.2 million of Elmhurst revenue,” Grabowski said. “This is revenue that we would normally receive unless the General Assembly approves legislation to change the funding formula and withhold this from Elmhurst.”

The city manager said the biggest expense for the city is personnel, so if there is a reduction in revenue, the city may have to consider layoffs … adding that a clause in the collective bargaining agreement with the fire union prohibits layoffs to firefighters during the contract period, which lasts through May 2017.

To make up for the shortage, firefighters are being paid time-and-a-half to cover all three shifts.

Alderman Mark Mulliner spoke after Grabowski, saying he believes the reduction in staff negatively affects the firefighters.

“By placing firemen in overtime and requiring them to be on overtime you are putting an undue burden on those firefighters as far as expecting them to be there on double shifts during certain times,” Mulliner said. “There is a grave concern about that.”

He also said Grabowski’s cost argument for not replacing the firefighters was invalid because paying firefighters overtime is also a great cost to the city. Additionally, Mulliner said, there have been other hires in the last year that contradict the potential revenue reduction from the state.

“I’m gravely concerned about the fact that we continually say we are not going to hire these three firefighters,” Mulliner said. “By the way, it is actually four [vacancies] because we are down a chief right now. “

Excerpts from the

Comments by a resident at a recent Elmhurst City Council meeting have focused attention on fire department staffing levels.

Geoff Gaebel, who said he is a lifelong Elmhurst resident and a firefighter in a nearby town, has criticized the city’s decision not to hire additional firefighters to replace two who retired and one who is on medical disability.

“The Elmhurst Fire Department is currently short three members and has been for about a year, bringing the department down to its lowest staffing level since 1999,” Gaebel said.

City manager James Grabowski noted the city contracts with Metro Paramedic Services, Inc., part of Superior Ambulance Service, for two advanced life support ambulances and 12 paramedics who average seven years of experience, and that the department was covering the three vacancies with overtime.

“None of the three shifts is running a firefighter short,” Grabowski said. “Each shift is being covered by an Elmhurst firefighter being paid time and a half.”

He cited uncertainty over Illinois state finances and provisions of the firefighter union contract for not hiring replacements for the three positions.

“We’d just like to see our manning (restored) to replace the three guys and anyone additional that retires,” said Ed Siuzdak, an Elmhurst firefighter and member of the executive board of the Elmhurst Local 3541 of the International Association of Fire Fighters.

Siuzdak said union representatives had discussed with Grabowski removing the no layoff provision, but didn’t get a clear commitment from him that he would then hire firefighters to fill the vacancies.

Siuzdak said union representatives had also talked with Grabowski about upgrading fire engines with advanced life support equipment, including monitors, telemetry, and advanced life support level drugs as backups when ambulances are out on other calls or far from a medical emergency.

According to Siuzdak, about a third of firefighters are paramedics but aren’t functioning in that role.

Grabowski indicated Tuesday he was still concerned with budget and revenue issues. The offer to drop the no layoff provision also involved several other issues and would have applied only to possible layoffs of new hires for the three existing vacancies, he said.

He added that discussions over upgrading engines to advanced life support levels had not covered possible additional personnel costs or questions about how many certified paramedics would be available on any given shift to cover the upgraded apparatus.

thanks Dan

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New use for old Chicago fire station (more)

Excerpts from

Unique Places to Get Married Around Chicago

Firehouse Chicago

Firehouse Chicago.

Though it’s now a quaint and beautiful event space, Firehouse Chicago was once—you guessed it—a firehouse. The Northside building was home to Engine Company 70 for more than 100 years, and included four horse stables in addition to its high ceilings and white glazed brick. The building was renovated to maintain its original character and beauty, including antique doors and lighting, making it not only a unique and spectacular wedding venue, but also an unforgettable setting steeped in history. 1545 W. Rosemont, 773-850-1545

thanks Dan

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Chicago Still Alarm, 4-29-16

This from Steve Redick:

 5347 Delphia, an area of the city that sees virtually no fires. Top floor job in a large U-shaped apartment building. Engine 119 led out a 4-inch feeder line to Engine 11 who was positioned at the closest entrance to this huge complex. There were at least two smoke inhalation victims that I saw. This had the potential to be a major event but was all over very quickly.


Chicago FD E-ONE ladder truck

Steve Redick photo

Chicago FD E-ONE ladder truck

Steve Redick photo

firefighters with ground ladder to roof of apartment building

Steve Redick photo

Chicago FD Engine 11

Steve Redick photo

firefighters with ground ladder to roof of apartment building

Steve Redick photo

Chicago FD Truck 55

Steve Redick photo

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2016 Emergency Response Guidebook

Excerpts from

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) released the 2016 Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG2016), providing first responders firefighters and other emergency personnel with an updated  manual to help contend with hazardous materials transportation accidents during the critical first minutes.

PHMSA will distribute more than 1.5 million free copies of the guidebook to firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and law enforcement officers across the nation who will use it to identify specific risks associated with compromised hazardous materials, and the recommended safety measures and procedures they should take to protect themselves and contain the incident as quickly as possible.

The ERG contains an indexed list of dangerous goods and the associated four-digit United Nations identification numbers. The ERG also identifies the general hazards those dangerous goods pose and  recommends safety precautions in remediating a hazmat incident.

The 2016 version of the ERG includes general revisions, expanded sections and added guide pages for absorbed gases. Updated every four years as a collaborative effort of the USDOT, Transport Canada and Mexico’s Secretariat of Transport and Communications, the ERG2016 is available free to public safety agencies in all states, territories and Native American Tribes through designated state emergency management coordinators’ offices.

PHMSA has also partnered with the National Library of Medicine (NLM) to provide a free Smartphone version of the ERG2016.  NLM also develops and distributes the Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders. The mobile application will be available this spring.

A copy of the new ERG2016 is posted online.  Print copies of ERG2016 are available for sale to the general public through the U.S. Government Printing Office Bookstore and other commercial suppliers.

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