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Monday, June 27, 2016

Galesburg firefighter staffing a concern as response time, alarms increase

Staffing concerns at the Galesburg Fire Department along with an increased volume of emergency calls has affected the response time to fires, however, full-time relief may be hard to come by as pension costs continue to rise. From 2011 to 2015 the average response time has gone from 3 minutes 33 seconds to 3 minutes 59 seconds. During that same time period, the number of emergency alarms has risen 15 percent. Fire Chief Tom Simkins said he’s lost two firefighters that have not been replaced in that time which means he’s doing more with fewer men, all while emergency calls rise. “The guys are not always in position or they’re on a heart attack, we can’t break off a heart attack to go to a house fire a lot of times,” Simkins said. Right now the GFD operates with 11 men a shift, and is budgeted for 44 total firefighters. That’s nine fewer than it had in 2004, when the department had a total of 51 firefighters and ran shifts of 12. Rising pension payments for firefighters has been a growing concern on the city’s budget and Simkins said he realizes that. He isn’t asking for more firefighters, but rather that the city avoid cutting more firefighters. “We went from 12 guys to 11, that’s like our Alamo,” Simkins said. “If we have to go below 11, I’ve only got two guys on a truck or I’ve only got two stations. We can’t make the 4-minute response and I’m not going to go to two men on a truck. I’m just not.”
Galesburg: Register-Mail

Retiring Geneva fire chief led department into modern era

After serving the community for more than 40 years, Geneva fire Chief Steve Olson will be signing off from his post June 30. Olson, of Geneva, said he intends to retire so he can explore other opportunities in teaching the next crop of emergency medical and firefighter professionals. "I'm probably the last of my group that retired," he said, noting how many of the professionals he worked alongside for much of his career had already left the department. In 1974, Olson joined the ranks of the Geneva Fire Department as an on-call firefighter. He was promoted to fire lieutenant, coming on board as a full-time employee. On the way to becoming fire chief in 1996, he was also named captain and deputy fire chief.
Chicago Tribune - metered site

Rockford Firefighters Battle 2 Garage Fires in 12 Hours

The Rockford Fire Department battles two separate garage fires in a span of about 12 hours. The first happened in the 1200 block of School St. at around 8:30 last night. Firefighters arrived to find flames engulfing the inside and outside of the garage. They were able to put the fire out without any injuries to themselves or the residents. The other fire happened this morning in the 2400 block of Winnetka Dr. Firefighters arrived on scene in just three minutes. They discovered smoke pouring out of the garage and the roof of the home when they arrived. Firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze quickly and no one was injured. The causes of both fires are still being investigated.

Liberty Fire Chief Don Loos announces retirement

A well-known fire chief in Adams County announced his retirement on Saturday. Liberty Fire Protection District Chief, Don Loos says his last day will be next Friday, July 1st. Loos was chief for 10 years and has spent 23 years with Liberty Fire. He says the new chief will be Dave McDonald.
WGEM-TV Quincy

Robbers set fire to Chicago convenience store

An armed robbery turning into an arson investigation early Saturday on the city's West Side after two men lit a convenience store on fire after robbing the clerk. One worker suffered second-degree burns to his leg. Police are still searching for the offenders, who brought the gasoline and matches. "People make a robbery just get the money and run away," said worker Abedlhdi Mansur. "To me this isn't a robbery. It's to kill." Two armed men with their faces covered robbed the Chicago Mini-Mart, located in the 3900-block of West Chicago in the late morning. "I see guy back there, he has two gallons. He put some on the floor everywhere," said owner Khaled Hussein. "He had some matches and light and like this on the floor. There's a big fire in the store." Mansur said the smoke made it difficult to breathe. One of the offenders also got burned, witnesses said. "He started taking off his clothes running down the street," said Jessica Esquivel, who lives upstairs with her family, including her two-week-old niece. "I just feel like that is something unbelievable. It's crazy. How can people do this?"
WLS-TV ABC 7 Chicago

Homer Township firefighters union pushing for elected fire board referendum

The Homer Township Fire Protection District union is working to get a referendum on the November ballot that would allow district residents to elect their fire trustees. Homer Township Professional Firefighters President David Curtis said union members voted unanimously in favor of the referendum. They would like to see trustees run for office so the union and taxpayers can communicate directly with those seeking a seat on the board and the union can endorse candidates, he said. “We don’t have a voice with the current trustees,” Curtis said, clarifying that the union must communicate to the board through the fire chief and would like to be able to work with trustees directly. The role of the district’s Board of Trustees is to supervise the chief, hire administrators, manage administrative accountability and oversee finances and equipment purchasing, Curtis said. The fire trustees, who meet once a month, are appointed by the Homer Township Board of Trustees. In order for the referendum to be placed on the Nov. 8 ballot, its proponents must get about 1,200 signatures – representing 10 percent of the district’s registered voters – supporting the change, Curtis said. “So far, we haven’t met with any resistance,” he said, adding that many of the district’s neighboring fire agencies – including New Lenox, Lemont and Orland – have elected fire boards.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Cherry Valley Fire Chief retires after 44 years

Cherry Valley Fire Chief Craig Wilt is calling it a career after 44 years with the department. The 62-year-old has lived in Cherry Valley his whole life, serving not only half a century as a firefighter with the village but also a quarter century as a village police officer. Thursday, Chief Wilt got to celebrate with the community at a retirement open house at the Cherry Valley Fire Station. “I don’t know if it’s really sunk in yet. Still trying to learn how to relax. I’m still wound a little tight. Still get up around 5 o’clock every morning and I expect in due time that will start keying down a bit,” says Wilt. Wilt followed in the footsteps of his father who served as a volunteer firefighter for 48 years. He tells us the biggest event of his career was the 2009 Canadian National Train Derailment and chemical fire.
WIFR-TV CBS 23 Rockford

2 hurt including police sergeant; 23 displaced in Chicago’s South Side fire

Two people were hurt, including a Chicago police sergeant, and 23 people were displaced after a fire in Gresham early Friday, authorities said. The fire broke out in the 7900 block of South Justine Street about 2:10 a.m., a Chicago Fire Department spokesman said. One person was taken to Holy Cross Hospital in fair-to-serious condition. The sergent was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn for smoke inhalation; his condition was not immediately available. In addition, 23 people were displaced from the building due to damage from the fire. Several of those affected were small children, according to neighbors. Lavette Mosely was waiting on a nearby bench with two of her neighbors after the fire, waiting to see who could get back in and when. The blaze started on the second floor, she said. Her daughter woke her up and told her the building was on fire. She didn't see much other than smoke and flames, she said. "It was scary, all that fire," said her neighbor, Dorothy Powers. Powers' unit didn't sustain much damage, but Mosely was told she and her children likely would have to find someplace else to stay for a while. But she was determined that she wouldn't be out for long. "I'm going back in my place," she said.
chicago tribune - metered site

OSF Teams Up With Rockford Fire Department for Patient House Calls

OSF Saint Anthony is teaming up with the Rockford Fire Department to reinvent the "house call." It's called Mobile Integrated Care. They plan to to start visiting sick patients, who are frequent visitors to the ER, at their homes. "We can tell them what [behavior] to change all we want in the hospital, but unless we can help them, and encourage them, and reduce some of these barriers, they're not going to be able to make the changes [they need] and they might plunk themselves right back into the hospital," said OSF's Emergency Medical Services' Director, Jane Pearson. The program will start with 10 to 15 patients at a time. They're focusing on the chronically ill, frail, elderly, or mobility-impaired. "Perhaps they're in the hospital with an acute illness but they have chronic medical problems," said Pearson. "When they're released home, they're not always quite ready to assume all their daily care." Fire Chief Derek Bergsten hopes the initiative will reduce 911 calls, which cost the City about $21,000 last year. "I think it's going to prove a benefit to their overall health and decrease admissions ... to the hospital," said Bergsten. A Rockford Fire Department paramedic or EMT, along with Pearson, will work hands-on to help the patients, from their diets to connecting them with social services.

Quincy takes ’baby step’ toward fire station study

Plans to relocate or build one or two new Quincy fire stations could be moving forward with a "request for qualifications" posted on the city's website. The notice seeks proposals for "consulting architectural services for the selection of land, building design and the construction of up to two" new Quincy fire stations. Firms are being asked to send their qualifications to the city's Purchasing Department by 4 p.m. July 28. "This is a baby step," Mayor Kyle Moore said. "We're going to be looking at sites and different scenarios." Moore, Fire Chief Joe Henning and several members of the Quincy City Council have discussed the need to tweak the city's fire station coverage. Some areas of Quincy have slower response times by fire crews because the population has grown and housing and business development has shifted, notably on the east side of town. The last time the city built a fire station was in 1975, when Fire Station 3 opened at 334 S. 36th. "That was the far edge of town back then. In the last 40 years, you can see how far we've grown to the east," Moore said. The reopening of Fire Station 6 at 24th and Cedar has led to discussions about the optimum location for fire stations. Henning put together a rough estimate two years ago that it would cost $1.2 million to build a fire station. That was based on a 6,000-square-foot floor plan with construction costs of about $200 per square foot. Architects and engineers were not brought into the planning process then because there was no assurance that the city was ready to build.
Quincy Herald-Whig

Springfield Burger King, duplex damaged by separate fires

Springfield firefighters had a busy afternoon Thursday when two fires broke out within a half-hour of each other. One fire damaged the exterior of the Burger King restaurant at 2901 South Grand Ave. E., while the second damaged a duplex at Skyview and Amherst drives, which is just west of Veterans Parkway and Jefferson Street. The fire at the Burger King burned the siding on the west side of the building near the door. Acting battalion chief Bill Beaty said the fire was contained to the exterior of the building. Some smoke got into the restaurant through an electrical conduit, but firefighters were able to air out the building. Food service had to be temporarily suspended, however. Beaty said fire investigators were called in because no reasonable explanation for the blaze could be found. The Burger King fire was reported about 3:30 p.m. At 4:01 p.m., emergency dispatchers started getting calls about the duplex fire on the far west side of town. Deputy division chief Jeph Bassett said the first firefighters to arrive saw black smoke coming from the attic of the duplex. Firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the blaze.
Springfield State Journal-Register

No one injured in fire at Peoria’s Courtyard Estates, but damage is substantial

A fire Thursday afternoon at Courtyard Estates left several residents displaced and caused an estimated $120,000 in damage. Just before 3:30 p.m., Peoria police and firefighters were notified of a fire at Courtyard Estates of Peoria, a senior living community at 117 N. Western Ave. that is best known as the former Jumer's Castle Lodge, which closed in 2009. First responders located and extinguished a fire inside an apartment on the fourth floor after receiving reports of what sounded like an explosion accompanied by heavy black smoke on the fourth floor. Residents on the third and fourth floors were quickly evacuated. The sprinkler system inside the apartment, activated by the smoke, caused substantial water damage to the third and fourth floors, according to a news release from the Fire Department. Furniture was moved and tarps set up in an attempt to reduce water damage. Firefighters also used water vacuums to remove standing water. The 37 responding firefighters had the scene cleared by 4:46 p.m. No injuries were reported, but Battalion Chief Aldo Scott said several residents were displaced from their rooms and temporarily relocated to other housing within the building.
Peoria Journal Star

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