Archive for August 3rd, 2021

Rockford Fire Department news

Excerpts from

All four finalists working to become the 11th chief in the history of the Rockford Fire Department already are high-ranking officers in the department. They were chosen as finalists from a field of 13 applicants. 

The Rockford Board of Fire and Police Commissioners is working to choose one of them to succeed Derek Bergsten, who in the spring accepted a job as fire chief of a Fort Collins, Colorado, department.

Finalists will answer questions during a public virtual forum online at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Each will take a turns answering questions. They won’t be able to hear the questions or how the other candidates respond. No questions will be taken from the live audience.

Trent Brass

Rockford Fire Department Capt. Trent Brass


Armed with a bachelors degree in assets protection and a minor in computer information systems from Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky, where he graduated magna cum laude, Trent Brass entered the business world in 1995.

He went to work for the DeKalb Fire Department in 1996, completing fire science training at the Elgin Fire Academy in May 1997. 

Brass was hired in Rockford in March 2001 after working five years as a firefighter-paramedic in DeKalb. Promoted to lieutenant in 2013 and captain in 2018, Brass has had a hand in developing and implementing some of the Rockford Fire Department’s most innovative programs.

He helped to develop and guide the department’s mobile integrated health program that works with SwedishAmerican Hospital to reduce unnecessary emergency room transports and visits while providing needed services to patients. He also helped to implement a new program that allows Rockford to transport patients, when appropriate, directly to a mental health treatment facility as opposed to an emergency room. 

Kyle Hill

Rockford Fire Department Capt. Kyle Hill


Kyle Hill, leader of the region’s hazardous materials team, is a 1990 graduate of Christian Life High School who got his start as a volunteer firefighter before hiring on with Rockford in 1999.

Promoted to lieutenant in 2010 and captain in 2017, Hill oversees Rockford Fire Station No. 7, where he is responsible for station maintenance, budgeting and record keeping in addition to managing firefighters and paramedics. 

He earned an associate’s degree in applied fire science from Rock Valley College in 2008 and a bachelor’s degree in public safety management from Southern Illinois University in 2020.

Among his proudest accomplishments was co-founding a small committee in 2007 that would go on to establish a memorial to honor fallen firefighters, police officer and EMS workers who had been killed in the line of duty. The memorial was dedicated in 2015 and Hill continues to work with the Winnebago County 9/11 Emergency Responders Memorial as treasurer of the organization.

Matthew Knott

Rockford Fire Department Division Chief of Administration Matthew Knott

An award winning Rockford firefighter and paramedic hired in 1997, Matthew Knott was promoted to division chief in 2009. He is currently in charge of administration and is responsible for planning, organizing, budgeting, directing and supervising the administrative and human resources divisions of the department. 

Knott was recognized with a Humanitarian Service Medal from the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System and Illinois Fire Chiefs Association for “outstanding individual and team actions” after responding to Hurricane Katrina in the fall of 2005. He has represented the fire department as part of Transform Rockford, Alignment Rockford, and myriad other community improvement efforts.

In addition to his certifications, Knott holds a bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University in geology and master’s degree in industrial management-safety.

Knott is a proponent of metrics-based performance evaluations and continuous improvement policies. He has led fire prevention, public education, and arson investigation programs.

Michele Pankow

Rockford Fire Department Division Chief of Operations Michele Pankow


Michele Pankow could become the first woman to be chief in the history of the Rockford Fire Department, which dates back to 1880.

When a major disaster strikes the region like a tornado or large-scale incident, she is in charge of mobilizing the response and running the special operations center.

Over a 28-year career she has worked her way up the ranks serving as a firefighter, emergency medical services operations chief, lieutenant, captain, and district chief. She holds an associates degree from Rock Valley College, a bachelor’s degree in fire service management from Southern Illinois University and a master’s in public administration from Northern Illinois University. 

In 2017, Pankow became the first woman in the history of the Rockford Fire Department to attain the rank of division chief. She is in charge of all fire suppression and special tactical operation companies and directs emergency medical operations of the department.

And Pankow was recognized this year as an “everyday hero” with the 2021 Red Cross Disaster Services Hero Award.

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Motorcycle crash in Chicago, 7-31-21


Excerpts from

In a scene on a crowded Chicago expressway this past weekend, a motorcycle crash ended in a blaze of flames. The motorcyclists performed their stunts right on the Stevenson Expressway.

Video shows one rider popping a wheelie and touching his feet together in midair. Moments later, he loses control while trying to touch the ground. Another rider violently flipped over the crashed bike, causing a fiery pileup. Other riders stopped to help and are even seen patting the fire out on one of the injured drivers

The riders involved in the crash identified themselves in a social media post. They are both OK, and said they accept the risk that goes along with stunt rides. 

The motorcycle meetup attracted hundreds — some from out of state. They rode throughout the city all weekend, and a YouTube video shows those dangerous stunts up close.

Other video posted online from the Loop shows hundreds of motorcycles passing through — even using the sidewalk to get around.

Illinois State Police said they were called for the fiery crash, but by the time troopers arrived, the bikers were gone. State police said in a statement they know how frustrating reckless driving can be – adding that they take it very seriously and that it is one of the most cited complaints.

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As seen around … Burbank

From Chicagoland fire photos on Instagram:

Burbank fd station 1 visit

Home to- 

Truck 206 
Engine 204 
Ambo 205 
Spare ambo 210 
Burbank FD Station 1

Chicagoland fire photos on Instagram

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Haz Mat in Wheeling, 7-31-21

From Max Weingardt:

Wheeling Hazmat Incident at 120 W Palatine Rd

Wheeling Hazmat/EMS box 7/31/21 at 120 W Palatine Rd

hazmat techs in Level A suits

Max Weingardt photo

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