Posts Tagged Palos Fire Protection District

Palos FPD apparatus updates

This from Martin Nowak:

I stopped at the Palos Fire District Friday. Took pictures of their new Truck 6304 and Ambulance 6302. I also took pictures of their old A6302 which will become a dive unit. Thank you to the firefighters of Palos FD for allowing me to take pictures. Also, I sent my photo of the old Truck 6304. 

Truck 6304 – 2014 Pierce Velocity 105? Ladder Truck.
Ambulance 6302 – 2014 Ford F-450/Marque 
The truck is at Station 1, the ambulance is at Station 2.
E-ONE Hurricane aerial ladder truck

The previous truck for the Palos FPD. Martin Nowak photo

Pierce Velocity aerial ladder truck

Driver’s side of the new truck. Martin Nowak photo

Pierce Velocity aerial ladder truck

Martin Nowak photo

fire department door seal

Martin Nowak photo

Pierce Velocity aerial ladder truck

New Pierce Velocity truck for the Palos FPD. Martin Nowak photo

ambulance photo

New ambulance for Palos FPD. Martin Nowak photo

ambulance photo

Rear of the new ambulance. Martin Nowak photo

ambulance photo

This ambulance is being converted into a dive team unit. Martin Nowak photo

ambulance photo

The old and new ambulances. Martin Nowak photo


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New truck for Palos FPD

Drew Gresik found the new unit for Palos FPD Truck 6304 on the Pierce Flickr site:

Pierce Velocity aerial ladder truck

New truck for the Palos FPD. Pierce composite

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Palos Fire Protection District initiates arrests for theft (more)

A recent article about the arrests for theft from the Palos Heights Fire Protection District includes more details:

Prosecutors describe the “complicated scheme to embezzle money” used by a Palos Heights Fire Protection District employee.

During a bond hearing Monday morning, Assistant State’s Attorney Michael O’Malley of the financial crimes unit detailed the various schemes he says Michelle Sopko employed to pilfer a total of $352,938 from the Palos Heights Fire Protection District and into a bank account shared with her husband, Charles Sopko.

The schemes included collecting overtime payments which she did not earn, nor was entitled to earn. She also created a ghost payroll in which she directed payments to two nonexistent employees into her own account, using a former employee’s social security number to create the phantom employees, O’Malley said.

READ: Bail Set at $100K for Oak Forest Couple Accused of Embezzlement

She also pocketed duplicate payments to Blue Cross Blue Shield, redirecting the extra payment to herself. She also stole duplicate payments from ambulance services when they should have been reimbursed, O’Malley said.  To hide her actions she created fraudulent financial entries and manipulated board reports to hide the alleged embezzlement.

Michelle Sopko was employed by the district as a part-time employee  from October 2008 to February 2012 earning $14 per hour. She was tasked with issuing payroll and handling bills. The investigation into her activities started in February 2012 when new Fire Chief Tim Sarhage discovered that she had signed checks using a board member’s name, O’Malley said. She initially denied the action, but later admitted doing so and was fired, O’Malley added.

Because Sopko had tied her personal email account to the district’s payroll system, she continued to receive notifications when someone would log in. She would then call Sarhage and offer her services to help prepare W-2 forms or assist with payroll even after she had been terminated, O’Malley said. Her offers were declined.

O’Malley says there is “a paper trail of all the transactions.” He also alleged that Michelle’s husband, Oak Forest Dep. Fire Chief Charles Sopko, had to have been aware of her actions.

Because of the large sum stolen over a few short years and a rapid rise in the duo’s household expenditures, coupled with the fact that he had a card and used the account to which the embezzled funds were diverted, O’Malley alleges there was no way he could not have been aware.

In 2009 the couple brought in incomes of $88,978 and spent almost the exact same amount, according to O’Malley. In 2010, through salary and allegedly embezzled funds the couple netted $150,420 and spent $177,584. Then in 2011 the amount brought in through legitimate and illegitimate means was just over $170,000 while household expenditures were $187,065. Finally, in 2012 a total of $191,783 was brought in while the family spent $211,927, O’Malley alleged.

O’Malley also offered Charles Sopko’s decision in April 2010 to open a new account at a different bank in which to deposit his legitimate Oak Forest Fire Department salary as proof that he wanted to separate the two income flows. Charles Sopko’s attorney Jason Danielian countered that he was simply giving business to a friend’s recently opened mom and pop bank.

During an impassioned presentation to the judge Danielian said his client only became aware of the embezzlement earlier this month when his wife confessed to taking about $100,000. Danielian said his client was immediately willing to speak to investigators, open the couple’s home to a search and even to sit for an interview without a lawyer in the room.

“His reputation in the fire service is stellar,” Danielian said. “[He’s a] fire official that everyone in the fire service deserves to have.”

O’Malley countered that it is those same fire and community connections that has allowed the couple to stay ahead of the investigation. He alleges they learned of a sealed secret grand jury investigation earlier this year and were made aware of the warrant issued against them last week before it was entered in any system. “It’s clear that as a deputy fire chief he is using his connections and power to his benefit,” O’Malley said.

“She perpetrated a fraud against her employer, she perpetrated a fraud against her husband,” Danielian said.

Both Sopkos have extensive ties to the Oak Forest community. In addition to his duties with the Oak Forest Fire Department, Charles Sopko is the vice president of the Oak Forest Park District and is active in coaching youth sports. Michelle Sopko is a member of the Arbor Park District 145 Board of Education.

It is these community roots, in conjunction with the couple’s three children, that both lawyers highlighted in their remarks before the judge.

O’Malley countered that one community group not present in the courtroom was the Palos Heights Fire District who had to recently take out a loan to pay for a new fire engine.

The loan was for $350,000.

The hearing over bond funds is set for Jan. 6.

thanks Dan

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Palos Fire Protection District initiates arrests for theft

The Chicago Tribune has an article which states that the Palos Fire Protection District is has accused a former administrative assistant and her husband, Oak Forest Fire Department Deputy Chief Charles Sopko of theft.

A former administrative assistant for the Palos Heights Fire Protection District and her husband – a deputy fire chief in Oak Forest – are accused of stealing more than $350,000 from her former employer, officials said.

Michelle Sopko, 45, and Charles Sopko, 47 of Oak Forest were arrested this morning and each charged with one count of theft of governmental property, a felony. They were scheduled to appear for a hearing at the Bridgeview Courthouse on Friday.

Earlier this year, a new Palos Heights Fire Protection District chief noticed discrepancies in the district’s financial records and asked Palos Heights police and the Cook County sheriff’s department to investigate, according to the sheriff’s office. The agencies found that Michelle Sopko had diverted about $352,000 to a bank account she shared with her husband.

Michelle Sopko had worked for the Palos Heights fire district from October 2008 to December 2012, when she was fired for unrelated reasons, the office said. Her job had included preparing and issuing payroll checks and paid district expenses.

thanks Dan

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New area apparatus orders

This from Josh Boyajian:

Palos Fire Protection District

  • 2014 Pierce Velocity
  • 105′ Ladder Truck.
  • Delivery In February 2014

Frankfort FPD

  • 2014 Pierce Arrow XT Engine
  • 1500 GPM/1000 gallon water tank
  • 25 gallon foam tank.
  • Delivery in April 2014

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Palos FPD truck burns

This from a reader … no information about where or when this happened

Palos FPD fire truck catches fire

Palos FPD truck

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Palos Fire Protection District on the site

Another fire department in MABAS Division 19 has been added to the site. The Palos Fire Protection District with two stations in Palos Park has 41 personnel on the roster including 12 who are part-time. They are responsible for a district that covers 15 square miles and includes Palos Park, parts of Palos Heights, Orland Park, and unincorporated Palos Township.

Palos Fire Protection District Engine 6303

Karl Klotz photo

Their fire suppression apparatus consists of three E-ONE engines and a 110-foot E-ONE quint. They run Road Rescue ambulances in addition to having a brush rig and an elliptical tanker from 4-Guys.

Palos Fire Protection District Station 2

Palos FPD Station 2 is at 13010 S. 104th Avenue in Palos Park. Karl Klotz photo

Palos Station 2 is also home to the new Haz Mat unit being shared by MABAS Divisions 19 & 22 which was written about HERE and HERE.

Palos Fire Protection District Tanker 6306

Bill Friedrich photo

Images were submitted by Bill Friedrich, Karl Klotz, Dennis McGuire, Jr., and Larry Shapiro.


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Orland board president want to merge 10 districts

The Chicago Tribune reports that:;

Orland Fire Protection District Board President James Hickey  … “My vision is not for just two districts, but that 10 districts will join, and you have a total cost savings where you can increase services, save money for the taxpayers and bring everything down to a more uniform level,” he said. “I really see that as the future.”

The brief article can be found HERE.

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Commercial fire in Worth 1-1-12

The North Palos Fire Protection District responded to a fire in a Chinese Restaurant at 113th and Harlem shortly before 1PM on Sunday and found the building well involved. The Chicago Tribune has an article HERE which states:

Firefighters from the North Palos Fire Protection District responded about 12:48 p.m. to the Canton Express at 113th Street and Harlem Avenue in Worth, and found the 30-by-60 foot restaurant completely engulfed in flames, said North Palos Chief Dan Russell.

Because the integrity of the structure was severely compromised and partially collapsed, firefighters were forced to battle the blaze from defensive positions outside the building, he said.

Tim Olk went to the fire and submitted several images.

Chinese Restaurant destroyed by fire in Worth IL

A tower ladder from Chicago Ridge and an aerial from the North Palos FPD both utilized elevated master streams to fight the Harlem Avenue fire on New Years Day. Tim Olk photo

Chinese Restaurant destroyed by fire in Worth IL

The Canton Express restaurant occupied the end unit of this strip center at 113th Place and harlem Avenue in Worth. Tim Olk photo

Chinese Restaurant destroyed by fire in Worth IL

North Palos Engine 823 was on a hydrant on 113th Place. The outside wall of the restaurant which can be seen here collapsed during the fire. Tim Olk photo

Chinese Restaurant destroyed by fire in Worth IL

North Palos firefighters direct a hand line into the structure to extinguish the remaining hot spots. Tim Olk photo

Chinese Restaurant destroyed by fire in Worth IL

Roberts Park responded mutual aid to the scene with Truck 31. Tim Olk photo

Chinese Restaurant destroyed by fire in Worth IL

North Palos Truck 804 was on Harlem n front of the restaurant. Tim Olk photo

Chinese Restaurant destroyed by fire in Worth IL

The MABAS Division 21 Rehab Unit out of Bridgeview was at the scene as well. Tim Olk photo

Tim has a large gallery which can be  viewed HERE.

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New/old Haz Mat unit for Divisions 19 & 22

MABAS Divisions 19 & 22 are sharing a new haz mat unit. Mentioned in a previous post HERE, Braidwood’s former C.A.R.T. Technical Rescue Unit was purchased to be converted into the haz mat unit.

MABAS Divisions 19 & 22 haz mat unit

The new haz mat unit for MABAS Divisions 19 & 22 is almost ready for service.

All photos are taken by Peotone Chief Schreiber


MABAS Divisions 19 & 22 haz mat unit

Haz Mat 6907 will be housed with the Palos Fire Department.

MABAS Divisions 19 & 22 haz mat unit

This 1982 Pierce Arrow was formerly a heavy rescue unit before it was the C.A.R.T. unit in Braidwood.



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