Archive for December 16th, 2022

Indiana fire service news

Excerpts from

Franciscan Health will stop taking ambulances at the 124-year-old Franciscan Health Hospital in downtown Hammond at 6 a.m. Dec. 23, but will continue to take walk-in patients until Dec. 31. The Mishawkwa-based health care system is closing the emergency room and ceasing to provide inpatient care at the hospital that dates back to 1898 and had 226 rooms before Franciscan started downsizing it last year. Franciscan shrunk it to just 10 rooms and then decided to close it altogether.

While Franciscan Health will maintain medical offices in downtown Hammond, its disinvestment in Northwest Indiana’s largest city will effectively end the former St. Margaret’s run as a hospital, as it will no longer offer basic hospital services like overnight stays for observation.

Calumet City Fire Department’s ambulances will take patients to the Community and Franciscan hospitals in Munster, and the Ingalls hospital in Harvey. The Hammond Fire Department will take patients to the Community and Franciscan hospitals in Munster and the St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago.

Trauma patients who suffer stabbings or shootings will continue to be taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn or the University of Chicago hospital in Hyde Park.

Franciscan Health has been demolishing large parts of the 800,000-square-foot hospital. It continues to maintain offices in downtown Hammond for the uninsured and underinsured, the Fresh Start Market for the food insecure, a Diaper Pantry, the Prenatal Assistance Program, a primary care clinic, dialysis, anticoagulation clinic, a multi-specialty clinic, and the women’s health center.

Hammond has the largest fire department in Northwest Indiana and the most staff but that might not help people who need to get to the hospital as soon as possible, McDermott said.
thanks Martin

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Aurora Fire Department news

Excerpts from

Two Aurora firefighters suffered injuries after responding to a hazardous materials incident on Thursday morning when they were called to a building in the 600 block of West Illinois for an odor investigation. Employees reported that two chemicals had been accidentally mixed at the location, which created a vapor cloud that filled the room.

One employee that was in the room at the time was able to escape safely and 50 other workers evacuated the facility without incident.

Two firefighters, both of whom were wearing PPE and SCBA entered the area and immediately felt a burning sensation around their mask seals. They backed out of the facility, and were taken to a local hospital for observation and treatment for minor injuries.

The call was upgraded to a Level III hazardous materials incident When hazmat technicians entered the building, they found that the incident had been contained and that the chemical reaction had stopped. The building was ventilated and turned back over to management, who said they would keep the facility closed while an investigation into the incident was initiated.

There was no threat to the public during the incident, and no one else was injured.

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Schaumburg Fire Department history

This from Drew Smith:

Friday December 16 is the 45th anniversary of the LODD of Schaumburg Firefighter Anthony Gallo. 45 years ago I was a 16-year-old high school fire cadet. We attended class daily at the Mount Prospect Fire Department. On this day I remember the MABAS Plectron opening over the speakers and the dispatcher announcing the death of FF Gallo. A hush came over the room and the instructor, a Mount Prospect lieutenant paused to pay tribute. At that moment, I don’t think any of us in the room (me, Dave Schultz [ret. Arlington Hts.], Jeff Harris [ret. Northbrook], Lou Petrone [ret. Itasca], to name a few) understood the reality of the situation but soon did. I have kept the newspaper articles of the tragedy.; #SchaumburgFD; #SchaumburgFDAnthonyGallo;

click to download; #SchaumburgFD; #SchaumburgFDAnthonyGallo;

click to download; #SchaumburgFD; #SchaumburgFDAnthonyGallo;

click to download; #SchaumburgFD; #SchaumburgFDAnthonyGallo;

click to download; #SchaumburgFD; #SchaumburgFDAnthonyGallo;

click to download

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Evanston Fire Department history Part 77

From Phil Stenholm:

Another installment about the History of the Evanston Fire Department


During 1980-81, the number of sworn members of the Evanston Fire Department (EFD) was reduced by attrition from 114 to 106 (eventually to 104). The position of Fire Equipment Mechanic was transferred to Fleet Services, as a civilian mechanic was hired by the City of Evanston to maintain EFD apparatus, with apparatus now maintained and repaired at the city yards instead of in the shop bay at Fire Station # 1. Also, firefighters absent due to injury or illness were no longer replaced by extra firefighters assigned to each shift.

Per an agreement between IAFF Local 742 and the City of Evanston, minimum EFD shift staffing was set at 26 in 1980, the lowest minimum staffing since 1926, back when Evanston’s population was 50,000, and 50 years before the EFD took over ambulance service. A company officer and two firefighters were assigned to each of the two truck companies and five engine companies, and two paramedics were assigned to each of the two MICU ambulances, with the shift commander (F-2) in charge.

As part of the 26-man minimum shift staffing, Squad 21 was taken out of front-line service and was staffed by one firefighter from Station # 1 (usually from Truck Co. 21) only when the specialized rescue equipment carried aboard the rig was needed at an incident. If no firefighters were at Station # 1, Squad 21 could not respond to an incident until at least one firefighter arrived at Station # 1 to provide manpower. 

All three ambulances were assigned to Station #1, with A-1 first-due to EMS and fire calls east of Asbury Avenue (inclusive), and A-2 first-due west of Asbury. In 1985, after a couple of paramedics complained that A-1 got three calls in row during a Bears game while A-2 got none, one of the communications operators suggested that the arbitrary Asbury Avenue border for A-1 and A-2 should be eliminated and that the two ambulances should just alternate every-other call, since they had the same equipment and were both located at the same fire station. This suggestion was actually rather quickly implemented, allowing paramedics assigned to the ambulance not “on the bubble” to remain at the hospital ER a bit longer, maybe go shopping, or even take a shower, knowing the other ambulance would get the next run. 

A minimum of six paramedics were assigned to each shift, with two assigned to each ambulance, and the other two to Truck Co. 21, which replaced Squad 21 as the “jump company” for the unmanned but fully equipped MICU Ambulance 3 at Station # 1. If Truck Co. 21 was not in quarters, Ambulance 3 could not be staffed. Also, if Truck Co. 22 was out of service, Truck Co. 21 was not permitted to staff Ambulance 3 even if Truck 21 was in quarters, because that would take both truck companies out of service.

There were actually times when Truck Co. 21 was in service and in quarters and easily could have staffed A-3, but a mutual aid ambulance had to be requested from Wilmette or Skokie only because Truck Co. 22 was out of service. This was in the days before before paramedics and ALS gear were assigned to all companies, so a delay resulting from having to wait for the arrival of an ambulance (and paramedics) from Wilmette or Skokie could prove deadly.

Vacations and Kelly Day absences were known in advance and were spread out evenly over the course of the year, and so those absences could be covered by the five extra firefighters assigned to each shift. Because it could not be known in advance exactly how many firefighters might be absent due to injury or illness on any given shift, off-duty firefighters covered for absent ill or injured firefighters, working voluntary “hire-back” overtime at the rate of time-and-a-half for the first eight hours of the 24 hour shift, and then “straight time” for the remaining 16 hours. Since it was known that on average two firefighters were absent each shift every day due to illness or injury, the seven positions eliminated remained in the budget as “ghost” overtime slots.

During the 1980’s, IAFF Local 742 successfully negotiated a change in the arrangement, so that firefighters working overtime received “time-and-a-half” for the entire 24 hour shift, at which point nine “ghost” positions were required instead of seven, and that’s when EFD membership was further reduced, from 106 to 104. So while the nine “replacement” firefighters did not actually exist, the salaries of the nine slots remained in the budget and were combined into an aggregate overtime fund that was paid to firefighters working off duty hours as illness and injury replacements.

City of Evanston Police / Fire communications operators (known collectively as “Dispatch”) assumed all aspects of fire dispatching in January 1982. Even though half of a communications operator’s salary was paid by the police department and half was paid by the fire department, an operator received just one pay check from the city. Communications operators wore an Evanston P. D. patch (with a “Communications” rocker above the patch) on their left uniform sleeve, and an Evanston F. D. patch on their right sleeve.

A few months after police / fire communications operators assumed all aspects of fire dispatching, the number of operators was increased from seven to nine, as two operators were now on duty at all times, instead of just one operator answering 9-1-1 calls and handling both police and fire radio traffic on the 11 PM – 7 AM shift. This change came about after two children were killed in an early morning house fire, with subsequent analysis of the radio traffic connected to the incident revealing that the single communications operator on duty was overwhelmed with police and fire radio traffic and telephone calls that led to some mistakes being made.

A police sergeant or lieutenant supervised the communications operators, with the fire department having some input regarding radio room operations as it pertained to the fire department, but no direct supervision with respect to staffing. A police desk officer would sometimes work as a communications operator to cover for an absence and in the process was expected to be able to dispatch a fire or EMS call, but firefighters were not permitted to work as communications operators.    

Previous to 1982, the Police / Fire communications operator would receive a report of a fire or medical emergency and then “tone it out” and broadcast the information, but then (whenever possible) a firefighter at the Station # 1 desk (known as “KSC 732 – the desk” back in the day) would usually handle all further radio traffic pertaining to the incident. Company officers were responsible for maintaining their own logs, so the time was stated after every radio transmission. Under the new system, radio traffic from EFD units in the field would be specifically directed to “Dispatch,” and then the operator was responsible for acknowledging and logging all radio traffic directed to Dispatch. Therefore it was no longer necessary to state the time after every radio transmission.

At this same time the EFD implemented a version of the Phoenix Fire Department’s Dispatch & Incident Command System invented by world famous PFD Chief Alan Brunacini in the 1970’s, as EFD radio procedures were radically changed. Among the many changes were the use of plain English instead of the “10-code”, calling the fire stations by their station number instead of by their FCC-assigned radio call sign, one group radio test every day instead of two, and new incident command and fireground terminology that replaced older concepts and jargon used by firefighters for many years. One of the communications operators was assigned the task of converting the Phoenix Fire Department’s communication operations manual to one that would fit the EFD, like changing a dispatch example from 2400 E. Van Buren to 2400 Main Street. 

A CAD (Computer-Aided Dispatch) system was purchased for the city by ADT (a private alarm company) in 1987, to aid Police / Fire communications operators in monitoring several hundred fire and burglar alarms connected directly to the Police / Fire Communications Center. The CAD system also provided automated logging of police and fire calls, replacing the pen & paper logs used previously by the operators. MDTs (mobile data terminals) were installed in EFD apparatus beginning in 1994.

On New Year’s Eve 1984, a fire destroyed the Byer Museum of the Arts at 1700 Hinman Ave. In addition to the loss of a historical landmark (the building was once home to the prestigious “University Club”), most of the museum’s priceless contents including its unique “Treasures of the Orient” collection were lost as well. The two truck companies from Evanston plus a truck company from Skokie that responded on the MABAS box attempted to salvage as much of the contents as possible, but the loss was still estimated at $5 million-plus.

However, the estimated loss was later reduced to about $1 million by the insurance company after some of the items reported lost in the fire were found at another location, and the matter remained in dispute for many years while litigation proceeded through the courts. If correct, the $5 million loss initially reported would have been the highest loss ever recorded in an Evanston fire up to that point in time. 

The cause of the blaze was never absolutely determined. The EFD’s lead investigator (FF / PM Dave Pettinger) believed the cause of the fire was “suspicious,” since the fire alarm system had been disabled and no point of origin could be located. However, EFD Chief Sam Hicks disagreed, believing the cause was an electrical problem.

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