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Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Off-duty Mendota firefighter killed crossing the street    view comments tweat me share on facebook
Mendota police said an off-duty city fire department captain died as a result of a pedestrian-vehicle accident this past weekend. Thomas J. Mahaffey, 62, 501 Third Ave., died Sunday in a Peoria hospital. He had been a city firefighter for nearly 40 years and held the rank of captain. According to information released Monday, Mahaffey was crossing the street at the intersection of Sixth Avenue and Sixth Street around 3:30 p.m. Saturday when he was struck by a vehicle driven by Harold A. Nurnberg, 78, of Mendota. Severely injured, Mahaffey was first transported to Mendota Community Hospital and then later flown to OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria by Life Flight helicopter. Mahaffey joined the department in January 1976 and had held the rank of captain for more than 10 years. He is survived by his wife, Deb, son, Jason, daughter-in-law, Megan, and two grandchildren. Dozens of posts of condolences for Mahaffey’s family and the Mendota fire department have been offered on the agency's Facebook page. The flag outside the fire department has been lowered to half-staff and a message on an exterior signboard now reads, “God speed FF Tom Mahaffey.”
MyWebTimes-The Times

Cost of ambulance services results in deep budget cuts in Antioch    view comments tweat me share on facebook
The cost of funding emergency ambulance services in Antioch without dedicated tax revenue has resulted in deep budget cuts across the village’s departments, services and programs. On the public safety side, trustees agreed to reduce police overtime spending by $50,000 and the Fire Department will close its station on Grass Lake Road, officials said. Downsizing to two fire stations is projected to save Antioch $87,900, officials said. In addition to putting all road improvement projects and equipment purchases on hold, the budget cuts will take $24,450 from the Public Works Department, $8,865 from the clerk’s office, $38,470 from community development and $1,200 from finance. The Village Board also removed $50,000 from the budget that previously was granted to the senior center. The cancelation of the village’s Easter Parade and egg hunt will save another $2,600. When the Village Board approved the spending cuts last week, trustees spared civic and youth sporting associations as well as other community events. According to village leaders, the budget cuts are directly tied to voters rejecting a referendum in November that would have set an ambulance tax. “There’s only so much money coming in,” Antioch Mayor Lawrence Hanson said. “You can’t take everything out for the community because then you won’t have a community,” he added. “It’s what makes Antioch a special place. It’s very complicated but we’ll do whatever we have to do to make it work.”
Lake County News Sun

Matteson residents voice concern over threat of police, fire department layoffs    view comments tweat me share on facebook
The threat of significant layoffs in the police and fire departments has residents in one suburb very concerned. In Matteson, residents packed the Village Hall to vent their frustrations. The layoffs could begin as soon as February 20th as a way to help deal with an $8 million budget shortfall the village of Matteson is facing this year. However, the concern at the meeting is why first responders are the first ones on the chopping block. The Village has warned police they may have to cut 13 officers, or half of its patrol staff. The fire department may have to eliminate eight firefighter paramedics, or about a quarter of its work force. “My heart goes out to you because you've made some horribly difficult decisions. Unfortunately I don't agree with them. I believe that if you look, you would find other places to make these cuts,” said resident Carolyn Feldman. The cuts were not on the agenda at Monday's meeting, but concerned residents joined an overflow crowd including a lot of firefighters and police who demanded cuts be made elsewhere. “Any further reductions could potentially do more harm than good. No layoffs are acceptable, none,” said Police Union President Robert Wilson. The police and fire department unions were notified last week about the layoffs. They were the first departments put on notice.
WFLD-TV MyFox 32 Chicago

Six people, dog escape safely after Quincy house fire    view comments tweat me share on facebook
Viola Mangham is grateful that her family is safe. Mangham, her two daughters and four grandchildren safely exited her home after a fire broke out late Monday afternoon at 11th and Chestnut. “I could not handle it if something happened to my grand-babies or my girls,” she said. Quincy firefighters responded to the fire at 1100 Chestnut just before 5 p.m. Fire Chief Joe Henning said they found heavy smoke coming from the second floor of the structure on the west side. Henning said firefighters took a line up to the second floor and quickly extinguished the fire. Mangham had just returned home from the store when the fire was discovered by one of her daughters. “I got into the door, and my daughter came hollering, ‘The house is on fire,'” she said. “Not downstairs. It was upstairs, and one of the rooms was in flames. I thought one of the girls was upstairs playing, and I ran up there and burned my hand and got smoke in my hair, but I found out they were all outside.” Henning was not aware of any injuries in the fire. Its cause remains under investigation. The family dog also made it safely out of the fire. “The only thing we're worried about now is we have a grey and black cat,” Mangham said. “She's a house cat — never been outside. She probably went downstairs and is hiding somewhere. She won't come out until one of us go in there.”
Quincy Herald-Whig

Harper, Palatine Fire Dept. team to offer CERT training beginning Feb. 2    view comments tweat me share on facebook
When Palatine Deputy Fire Chief Patrick Gratzianna recalls that sudden and severe storm that passed through the Chicago area last September, he immediately lauds the village's Community Emergency Response Team. Downed trees and power lines littered the area, creating dangerous conditions and overwhelming emergency workers. He dispatched a team of about 10 CERT volunteers, assigning them to relieve one of the department's power ladders and assist with much-needed traffic control duty. Citizens who go through CERT training make a difference, Gratzianna said. In the 7-session course taking place on Harper's main Palatine campus, students will learn to manage utilities and put out small fires; treat the three medical killers by opening airways, controlling bleeding and treating for shock; provide basic medical aid; safely search for and rescue victims; organize spontaneous volunteers to be effective; and collect disaster intelligence to support first responder efforts. Gratzianna said students will benefit regardless of whether they go on to volunteer. "Going through this training primarily means you're looking toward the preparedness and safety of your own family," Gratzianna said. "That's what really matters most."
Chicago Tribune

Monday, January 26, 2015
Woman Found Dead In Burning Barrington Home   view comments tweat me share on facebook
An elderly woman was found dead inside a burning house in unincorporated Barrington early Saturday, authorities said. Deputies were called about 1:15 a.m. to the fire at a home in the 21000 block of North 21st Street, according to a statement from the Lake County sheriff’s office. When the deputies arrived, the house was “fully engulfed in flames,” the sheriff’s office said. The Barrington Countryside Fire Department said a woman was found dead in the home. According to the sheriff’s office, the body was found in an upstairs bedroom and is believed to be the 88-year-old homeowner, although positive identification is pending through the Lake County coroner’s office. The cause of the fire remains under investigation Saturday morning by the sheriff’s Criminal Investigations Division, the Barrington Countryside Fire Department and the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s office.
CBS Chicago

Firefighter staffing law continues to ignite debate in Lake Forest   view comments tweat me share on facebook
A few years ago, four firefighters worked each shift at the station on the west side of Lake Forest. Now, says Lt. Andy Allan, president of the Lake Forest Professional Fire Fighters Union Local 1898, only two work there each shift, despite the union's efforts to fight reductions. In some cases, Allan said, that might mean only one firefighter going inside to investigate a potential fire, while the other works outside. "To have only two people at the station for responding to potential fires presents a whole slew of potential disasters. … If I go down, who's going to know?" Allan said. But Lake Forest city officials say there's no evidence to support Allan's claim of increased risk, particularly when fire departments from nearby communities often respond to the same emergencies. Whichever side is right, when contract negotiations restart next year, Lake Forest firefighters — like those in every other community in the state — will have more muscle at the bargaining table because of a new law that says the number of firefighters in a town can be decided by an independent arbitrator if unions and municipalities can't hammer out an agreement. Some say the "minimum manning" law's passage means more towns will consider privatization or consolidation of fire departments to avoid raising taxes or cutting other services. Or it could lead to public safety improvements, with more firefighters and paramedics available to respond to emergencies. It all depends on which side of the bargaining table you sit. "I think it could be the first step in privatization for a lot of fire departments, I really do," said Chief Pat Tanner of the West Chicago Fire Protection District. "If the unions push too hard, the municipalities will rethink it and privatize their fire departments." Under state law, firefighters have collective bargaining rights. When issues of wages, hours or working conditions are unresolved, they can be subject to arbitration, the results of which are binding. The new law, signed by former Gov. Pat Quinn in his final days in office, adds staffing to the list of topics that can go to an arbitrator. The West Chicago Fire Protection District, which serves West Chicago and several other DuPage County towns, already has a minimum staffing level — three per engine — in its contract, Tanner said, and likely won't be affected much by the law.
Chicago Tribune - Subscription may be required

Fox River fire district to seek tax rate increase   view comments tweat me share on facebook
The Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District’s board has voted 5-0 to seek a tax rate increase on the April 7 consolidated election ballot. Board President Jim Gaffney said the increase is being sought so the district can pay its firefighters higher wages, buy more equipment, meet the costs of maintaining its two firehouses and to set aside money if officials decide to establish a third firehouse at Crane and Bolcum roads in St. Charles Township. The district, which serves residents in Wayne, Campton Hills and St. Charles Township, already owns the land that would be used for the third firehouse, Gaffney said. The question asks voters in both Kane and DuPage counties if the extension limitation should “be increased from the lesser of 5 percent or the percentage increase in the consumer price index over the prior levy year to 12.5 percent for each of the levy years of 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019?” The ballot question also contains an explanation of how much additional tax would be collected each year, showing small staggered increases over five years, Gaffney said. Gaffney said the increased amounts, to be collected on a house with a fair market value of $100,000, would be estimated to be $8.11 in 2015, $8.80 in 2016, $9.54 in 2017, $10.34 in 2018 and $11.21 in 2019.

Update: Sprinklers were shut off before massive Rockford warehouse fire   view comments tweat me share on facebook
Leaky fire-suppression sprinklers that could have limited the damage or even stopped a Jan. 6 fire that destroyed an 89-year-old warehouse had been deactivated. An investigation continues into the fire that consumed the building that was once home to the Rockford Cabinet Co. and most recently housed Asher Tool & Manufacturing, 1916 11th St., and a warehouse next door that had stored wooden pallets. Although a company, Robinette Demolition of Oakbrook Terrace, that specializes in fire investigations was hired for $10,000 to excavate parts of the building last week, the cause of the fire is listed as undetermined. "We don't think that the sprinklers being shut off was related to the fire, meaning it wasn't like someone set the fire and shut off the sprinklers," said Rockford Fire Department Division Chief Matthew Knott. The sprinkler system "was shut down months ago because of concerns about leaks and concerns with freezing." The original 185,000-square-foot building was expanded several times for Carter Manufacturing Co., a longtime toy maker that closed in 1989. It was used by Asher Tool in the 1990s. The building had been vacant and used for storage until it sold in 2008 to Joseph Lazar of Gilberts, according to Winnebago County records.
Rockford Register Star

Proposed Bill in Congress Aims To Provide Incentives For Volunteer Firefighters   view comments tweat me share on facebook
A recently proposed bill in Congress aims at helping those who put their lives on the line for others by providing them with financial incentives. This legislation is already gaining bipartisan support that could help volunteer firefighters, and other first responders, by providing them with incentives for a job that they're already doing for free. In the small town of Dawson, Illinois, a fire chief is struggling to find volunteers for his station. "It has become increasingly harder to get people to volunteer just because of the sheer number of hours that are required," said Fire Chief Mike Abbott. A station comprised solely of volunteers, last year they responded to 170 calls. Fire Chief Abbott says the demand for volunteers is going up - in a dangerous job environment that they're already doing for free. "So it becomes a big time crunch for someone to want to volunteer and you have to try and provide some kind of incentive to make that happen," Says Abbott. Incentives for these individuals are being proposed right now in Congress.
WICS-TV Springfield ABC Channel 20

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