Posts Tagged Woodstock Fire/Rescue District

Gas explosion in Woodstock 10-9-23

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Woodstock Fire / Rescue District

Excerpts from abc7chicago.com:

Cleanup is underway Tuesday, after a natural gas leak led to a house explosion in Woodstock. It’s not clear what can be salvaged in all of the debris.

Woodstock fire officials said the incident started with a call around 12:30 p.m. Monday about a 2-inch gas main that had been struck by a crew inside a sewer line in the area of Tryon Street and Lincoln Avenue.

There was an explosion about two hours later as Nicor and firefighters were on the scene.

The blast leveled one home and damaged at least 10 buildings, including a church and a school. At least 11 people who have been displaced.

Two firefighters were taken to the hospital with minor injuries, but no one was seriously hurt.

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Woodstock Fire / Rescue District

From Woodstock Fire/Rescue District on Facebook:

Early Tuesday afternoon, pedestrian traffic had been reopened to both Tryon Street and Lincoln Street. Broken glass may still be in the area and residents are asked to keep dogs and young children away. Firefighters worked throughout the night extinguishing residual hot spots and hidden fires prior to leaving shortly before 12:00PM. Members from the Woodstock Fire/Rescue District spent nearly 24 continuous hours on the scene.
 
Investigators from the Woodstock Fire/Rescue District and the Woodstock Police Department met early Tuesday morning and began documenting all the structures impacted by the blast. Including the origin home, a total of 20 structures sustained varying amounts of damage. Two homes and a detached garage are considered a complete loss, with two additional homes structurally uninhabitable.
 
A total of 22 individuals have been displaced with many seeking assistance from the American Red Cross. Two family dogs remain in critical condition at a local veterinary clinic. The Fire District has not been able to confirm if any other pets are missing or perished. At this time, we are told many residences remain without power and electric utilities. Both ComEd and Nicor are working to restore services to the area.
 
The cause of the explosion remains under investigation by the Woodstock Fire/Rescue District, the Woodstock Police Department, and Nicor Gas Company.
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Woodstock Fire / Rescue District

#chicagoareafire.com; #gasexplosion; #housefire; #WoodstockIL; #WoodstockFire/RescueDistrict; #flames;

Woodstock Fire / Rescue District

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Woodstock Fire / Rescue District

On October 9, 2023, at 12:35PM, the Woodstock Fire/Rescue District responded to the area of N. Tryon Street and Lincoln Street for the smell of natural gas in the area. Firefighters arrived a short time later and determined a contract crew working in the area had struck a 2-inch gas main inside a sewer line. Nicor arrived approximately 30 minutes later and began assessing the damage. As a precaution, firefighters evacuated a nearby church and advised homeowners to shelter in place until Nicor could mitigate the leak.
 
At 2:38PM, while firefighters were still on scene, a two-story home in the 200 block of Lincoln Ave exploded. The home was instantly leveled and fires were ignited in several adjacent structures.
A request through the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) was quickly made to the 2nd Level for resources to the scene and change-of-quarters companies. A short time later, the incident commander requested the alarm to be upgraded to the 4th level bringing a total of 20 fire agencies to the scene with several others covering our stations.
 
Fortunately, no major injuries have been reported. All occupants from the homes have been accounted for at this time. Two firefighters were transported to local hospitals with minor injuries. All displaced residents are being assisted by the American Red Cross. Several surrounding residences are without power and gas services with restore time estimates undetermined.
 
While the damage is still being assessed at least 10 structures were damaged in the blast including a church and school. The cause of the explosion is being investigated by the Woodstock Fire/Rescue District, the Woodstock Police Department, and Nicor Gas Company.
We greatly appreciate the assistance from all the agencies who responded to the scene, those who covered our stations, and our dispatchers.
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Woodstock Fire / Rescue District

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Woodstock Fire / Rescue District

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Woodstock Fire / Rescue District

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Box Alarm in Woodstock, 10-2-23

From the Woodstock Fire/Rescue District on Facebook:

On Monday, October 2, 2023, at 5:10AM, the Woodstock Fire/Rescue District was dispatched to the 200 block of S. Jefferson Street in Woodstock for the reported residential structure fire.
A vigilant Woodstock police officer passing through the area first reported the fire and began alerting the occupants of the home. Initial reports indicated a large fire with someone trapped on the third floor. Firefighters arrived on scene within 4 minutes and confirmed a working fire on the rear of the home with all occupants evacuated. Several hose lines were deployed, and an interior attack was quickly initiated.
 
A request through the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) was made to the Box Level for additional resources to the scene and change of quarters companies. In total, seven neighboring fire districts responded to the aid request. The fire was considered under control within 45 minutes, but overhaul and investigations continued until 10:00AM. Two pet turtles were rescued by firefighters.
 
An adult male occupant was critically injured during the fire. Due to the extent of his injuries, a medical helicopter was requested but was unavailable to fly due to weather conditions. The male patient was subsequently transported by ambulance to Northwestern Medicine Huntley Hospital.
The home sustained heavy smoke and water damage throughout and is considered uninhabitable until repairs can be made. All 9 occupants of the home are receiving housing and various aid assistance from the American Red Cross. One firefighter sustained minor injuries and was transported to Northwestern Medicine Woodstock Hospital.
 
Preliminary investigations indicate the fire began on the rear deck of the home and quickly extended to the attic. There was no evidence of working smoke detectors in the home. Damage estimates are currently undetermined. The cause of the fire is not believed to be suspicious in nature but remains under investigation by the Woodstock Fire/Rescue District.
 
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Woodstock Fire/Rescue District photo

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Woodstock Fire/Rescue District photo

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Woodstock Fire/Rescue District photo

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Woodstock Fire/Rescue District news

Excerpts from the Woodstockindependent.com:

At the end of the 2020-21 fiscal year next spring, the budget for the Woodstock Fire/Rescue District projects a surplus of $455,000. And with any luck, the $600,000 line-of-credit loan the WFRD Board of Trustees approved this spring will be the last time the district has to borrow money to meet the payroll. For that, the district can thank voters who last year passed a referendum, with nearly 65 percent approval, to increase the WFRD tax rate by 20 percent.

The increase means that the 2020 property tax bill will increase by about $150 a year for the owner of a home with a market value of $250,000. With an extra $1.3 million a year coming in from the tax increase, the district has plans to add personnel and upgrade equipment. Although the tax increase was approved 13 months ago, it won’t be until later this month or early June that the district sees any new money.

A four-year strategic plan was adopted by the board in August for upgrading personnel, equipment, and buildings for the district, which covers 90 square miles around Woodstock. Among the personnel moves planned is the hiring of a deputy chief, which is a position that was eliminated years ago to save money as district finances got tight. 

Trustees are scheduled to have a public hearing on the 2020-21 budget at their meeting May 28. It’s likely they will adopt the budget then. The proposal anticipates $9.7 million in revenue, 80 percent of it from property taxes. The budget includes $9.3 million in expenses, but would appropriate $11.2 million, giving the district some room in case additional income is received from grants or other sources.

This past fiscal year, grant money included $87,000 from the state for a new station alerting system. A $130,000 federal grant in 2018 equipped each of the district’s three ambulances with a power cot and load system.

Capital expenses in the new budget plan include $300,000 for a new ambulance, but no decision will be made until later when officials are convinced the budget is under control.

Among new expenses in the budget will be pay increases for about three dozen firefighter/paramedics, who agreed in 2018 to forgo 2.5 percent raises for the first two years of a new three-year contract. Although they will not receive back pay for the two years of raises they agreed to waive, they will get an increase of more than 8 percent, which will place them at the pay level required in the third year of the contract.

Coronavirus concerns have been costly for the district, and as a result, the district suspended the 2018 collective bargaining agreement, which included cancellation of time off for all personnel which has cost the district about $45,000 in overtime so far. The firefighters union agreed to the move at the time because it was unknown what the effect of COVID-19 would be. They have asked that the contract be re-instated now that the worst fears have not be realized, but the board declined, promising an ongoing review of the situation and an easing back into full terms of the agreement as circumstances allow.

One recent casualty of the situation is the suspension of having fire trucks visit the homes of children whose birthday parties were canceled because of the pandemic. While it was good public relations, it was beginning to interfere with the district’s operational readiness with  five or six trips a day

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Woodstock Fire/Rescue District news

Excerpts from the woodstockindependent.com:

Woodstock Fire/Rescue District had a structure fire October 23rd in the 800 block of West Avenue.

A woman, the lone occupant of the home at the time of the fire, escaped without injury. The house had working smoke detectors, but the woman apparently fled after hearing commotion in the garage.

The garage was heavily damaged, as was a car inside that firefighters later had towed into the driveway. Some fire damage occurred in the attic, and smoke throughout the home made it uninhabitable. Relatives were arranging for the woman to stay elsewhere. Firefighters were on the scene for about two hours after being called at 5:41 p.m.

The district’s 12-member shift was stretched thin as two ambulances had been called out less than an hour before the fire, and a traffic accident at U.S. 14 and Hartland Road just before 6 p.m. also required an ambulance.

Patients had to be transported to hospitals outside Woodstock, which delayed getting a second ambulance to the scene of the fire.

The district’s initial response involved an engine, one ambulance, and the shift commander. A second call brought the chief and a ladder truck. Fire units from Wonder Lake, Union, and Huntley also were at the scene.

How rare are structure fires in Woodstock? Of the 458 calls the district responded to in September, only four were fire calls, and none matched the scope of last week’s call. In 2018, about 1 percent of all calls were fire-related, whereas 75 percent were ambulance-related.

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Woodstock Fire/Rescue District news

Excerpts from the woodstockindependent.com:

With a more focused mission statement and a new four-year strategic plan, the Woodstock Fire/Rescue District is looking to improve as a professional department. The goals include specifics in such areas as staffing, equipment, fiscal responsibility, response times, health and wellness, and training.

65 percent of voters in an April referendum approved a property tax increase to address some of the problems the chief had pointed out in dozens of public informational sessions around the community. They want to restore staffing to 14 a day, up from the 12 that had been enacted last summer as a money-saving move. They want to bring back the jobs of deputy chief and fire prevention officer, positions that were eliminated to address the district’s financial troubles. Unfunded state mandates and rising pension costs caused the problems.

The district’s mission statement now  concisely says the district exists “to protect life and property through efficient and professional service to our community.” That document resulted from two meetings with community members, a risk assessment of more than 900 buildings in the 90-square-mile district, and an inventory of human and physical resources. The ultimate goal of the strategic plan will be to improve response times for fire and ambulance service, which now operates with 35 full-time professionals and several part-timers. Ambulance calls make up 75 percent of the district’s responses.

Once the board approves the plan, administrators will assign various district personnel to carry out implementation. The plan was designed to be carried out over the next four years. As a practical matter, funding from the property tax increase won’t start being available until next May, that will mean an additional $1.25 million the first year.

The plan also will help to determine how resources are used, including personnel, equipment, and money.

But everything the plan envisions would not have been possible without the successful referendum. Once the plan is approved, it will be available to the public on the WFRD website, wfrd.org.

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Woodstock Fire/Rescue District news

Excerpts from the woodstockindependent.com:

With an extra $1.25 million a year from a voter-approved tax increase, the Woodstock Fire/Rescue District has big plans to add personnel and upgrade equipment, but until that property tax money starts rolling in about mid-2020, the Board of Trustees is sweating the small stuff.

At issue was how the district could find $5,250 to buy a barely used UTV from the Wonder Lake Fire District, an expense that wasn’t budgeted. Woodstock Chief Mike Hill wanted the vehicle as a brush truck, replacing a pickup truck mounted with a water tank and pump. The district’s brush truck was totaled in a traffic accident last winter, and insurance money went for a new pickup, but it’s not ideal for chasing field fires in muddy, swampy  fields in rural areas.

In the end, the board figured it could draw on the district’s contingency fund, which had about $10,000.

The previous month, the board approved 4.5 percent raises for the district’s mechanic and the chief’s executive assistant, which Hill said he had budgeted.

In other business, the board was told a year-long study, Community Risk Assessment & Standards of Cover, has been completed to prepare the district for creating a four-year strategic plan. The report includes a history of the fire/rescue service, an inventory of human and physical resources, and a risk assessment of more than 900 buildings throughout the district.

The 86-page report one of the biggest administrative projects ever taken on by the district. The goal was to use the information to improve response times for the fire and ambulance service.

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Woodstock Fire/Rescue District news

Excerpts from the woodstockindependent.com:

After working four months without a contract, Woodstock firefighters have ratified a new 3-year contract with the financially strapped Woodstock Fire/Rescue District. The contract was unchanged from the tentative agreement rejected July 6 by Woodstock Career Firefighters Local 4813.

But acceptance came after the fire chief and district board president met with union members to lay out a four-stage program for spending priorities.

Although pay increases are included in each year of the contract, firefighters have said they will forgo raises the first two years to help the struggling district. The most immediate impact of the new contract will be in reduced staffing for each shift, from 14 down to 12. A personnel shortage has forced the district to spend about $5,000 a day in overtime to meet the contractual obligation. Fire Chief Mike Hill said the new staffing model was scheduled to go into effect this past Sunday.

The union also adopted a resolution in support of a referendum to increase district revenues with a property tax increase, which would need voter approval. But district officials decided to delay the referendum until April to give them more time to inform the public about the district’s financial issues and the consequences if more revenue isn’t found to support fire and ambulance services.

The referendum, which had been placed on the ballot for the Nov. 6 election, would bring in nearly $1.17 million a year more in property taxes. District officials figure that would mean an extra $60 a year for a single-family residence with a fair market value of $100,000.

Woodstock city officials, who already are paying the district’s $36,000 annual increase in fees from the new regional dispatching service, will consider additional assistance during a city council work session Sept. 13.

After voting to ratify the new pact, Local 4813 members said concessions they made in the contract should save the district about $750,000 over the next two years. In addition to the pay freeze, firefighters forfeited an education allowance, accepted a reduced uniform allowance, and forfeited a vacation day.

The union noted it had made concessions before. In 2016, firefighters agreed to a cut in staffing, took a 25 percent reduction in holiday pay, and increased their contributions to the insurance plan to help offset lost revenue when the village of Lakewood canceled an intergovernmental agreement for fire protection.

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Woodstock Fire/Rescue District news

Excerpts from thewoodstockindependent.com:

Last Sept. 9, on their way to a training session with the McHenry County Sheriff’s SWAT team, two tactical EMS personnel heard a call that diverted them. A motorcycle had collided with a car, and the rider had been thrown from his bike. So the two EMTs – one from Woodstock, the other from Huntley – headed to the scene. They were soon joined by personnel from Woodstock in a rescue operation that, eventually, involved seven agencies.

For its’ quick action and good work, the district this week will receive the 24th annual Scene Call of the Year Award for 2017 from Flight For Life.

“The Woodstock Fire/Rescue District’s call highlights the teamwork that exists among fire departments, law enforcement agencies, dispatchers, hospitals and air medical services as they work together to provide the best possible patient outcome,” Flight For Life said in a news release. “It also illustrates the importance of critical thinking and decision-making, communication, use of mutual aid resources, scene safety and management and thinking outside the box.”

The first EMTs on the scene found the motorcyclist had suffered heavy trauma and they initiated care – blood control, airway control, splinting.

The award will be presented during the regular meeting of the district Board of Trustees at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Station 3, 2900 Raffel Road. In addition to Woodstock Fire/Rescue personnel, the ceremony will involve Northeast Regional Communications Center, which dispatched the call; McHenry County Sheriff’s Office; Woodstock Police Department; McHenry County Tactical Emergency Medical Support Team; Huntley Fire Protection District; and Flight For Life personnel who participated on the call.

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Woodstock Fire/Rescue District news

Excerpts from the Woodstockindependentcom:

Service cuts at Woodstock’s hospital could cost the Woodstock Fire/Rescue District hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional equipment and personnel.

About 44 percent of Woodstock-area ambulance transports in September bypassed Centegra Hospital-Woodstock for other hospitals, according to data from WFRD. By contrast, in January, about 10 percent of WFRD’s transports went elsewhere.

In mid-August, Centegra-Woodstock stopped accepting most inpatient admissions. The hospital continues to run a basic emergency room, and it offers other services, but patients who need overnight stays are being treated at Centegra-Huntley or Centegra-McHenry. That means WFRD’s ambulance runs for people with conditions ranging from serious allergic reactions to pneumonia must be transported out of town.

The additional drive time which comes with taking many patients from Woodstock to Huntley or McHenry has Fire Chief Michael Hill thinking about the future. For decades, Woodstock’s ambulance service has been structured for paramedics to deliver patients to the emergency room and be back on the road quickly — sometimes in just five or 10 minutes.

Now, Hill said, a trip to an out-of-town hospital can take an ambulance out of service for 35 to 40 minutes. For a district that runs about 12 calls a day, that time adds up. On occasion, if all three WFRD ambulances are out, crews from neighboring towns are called in to cover.

“If you go to the Woodstock hospital and drop off your patients, you’re ready to respond. An ambulance is available,” Hill said. “If you’re out in McHenry or Huntley, you’re too far away. You’re not available.”

A Centegra official said the health system is working with WFRD and that Woodstock’s ER can provide emergency care to the vast majority of patients.

“Our collaboration with Woodstock EMS is a work in progress, and we continue to discuss the ways to best serve patients in Woodstock and its surrounding communities,” Catie Schmit, Centegra’s director of emergency services, wrote in an email. “We are identifying additional opportunities for education to be sure patients are taken to the emergency room that provides the most appropriate care for their conditions.”

Hill cautioned WFRD’s most recent data only takes into account about a month’s worth of transports, so it’s still too early to decide if the district will need to hire more staff or buy another ambulance. But he said there’s a chance WFRD — and, by extension, taxpayers — will need to spend more to make up for the reduction in services at Woodstock’s hospital.

Buying a new ambulance would cost about $210,000, and hiring more employees to staff it would cost easily more than $100,000 a year in salaries, benefits and other expenses.

In the case of walk-ins to Centegra-Woodstock, private ambulances are being used to transport patients to other hospitals at their expense. (Insurance typically covers at least part of this cost, which can run in the thousands. WFRD ambulance trips come with a bill, too, ranging from about $500 to $900 for residents.) When patients call 911 for an ambulance, they will be taken directly to the hospital which can best treat them. Ambulance crews are directed by hospital doctors as to where to go.

Hill is worried that injured or sick people will decide to skip the ambulance altogether by driving themselves to the hospital when they’re in no shape to do so.

“Don’t be afraid to call 911. The most disturbing stories I’ve heard were of people that needed help and didn’t want to call the ambulance because they weren’t sure what was going to happen,” Hill said. “We, Woodstock Fire/Rescue District, are going to take care of you. We’re going to get you to the correct hospital and get you the treatment you need.” 

thanks Dan

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New ambulance and Battalion Chief unit for the Woodstock Fire/Rescue District

This from Brendan Parker:

Here are pictures of our new shift commander vehicle (Battalion 4) out of station 1 and new ambulance out of Station 2 (Ambulance 452).

Captain Brendan Parker

Woodstock Fire/Rescue District

Woodstock Fire/Rescue District Battalion 4

Woodstock Fire/Rescue District Battalion 4. Brendan Parker

Woodstock Fire/Rescue DistrictAmbulance 452

Woodstock Fire/Rescue DistrictAmbulance 452. Brendan Parker

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