Firefighter policy change after 2013 Hudson LODD may have prevented I-55 tragedy
Policies changed after the March 2013 death of a Hudson firefighter may have helped prevent a similar tragedy during Tuesday's ice storm.
Assistant Chief Jason Hospelhorn of the Dale Township Fire Department was helping victims of a rollover crash on Interstate 55 south of Shirley when a speeding semi "completely took out" his sport utility vehicle, said Fire Chief Ryan Gibson.
"He heard the semi coming at a high rate of speed and heard the jake brake (air brake)," Gibson said. "He pushed the other two victims — who were out of their car — toward the ditch and then ran himself."
Illinois State Police at Pontiac said the crash was reported at 3:49 a.m., but had no further information since the accident did not result in injuries.
One person required hospital treatment from the initial crash, Gibson said. The incident occurred two days before the two-year anniversary of the death of Chris Brown, a career firefighter with Bloomington Fire Department who was hit by a semi while helping Hudson firefighters at a night-time accident on an icy stretch of Interstate 39.
Dale Township changed its policies after Brown's death, requiring firefighters to wear reflective vests and protective gear when on an accident call. Hospelhorn's SUV was outfitted with flashing lights, which were in use, and his vehicle was well off the road, said Gibson.
1 dead in 3 alarm blaze in Chicago’s Rolling Meadows
A man died after jumping from a third-floor balcony to escape an extra-alarm fire in his apartment building in Rolling Meadows, officials said. Fire crews were called to a three-story building at 5201 Carriageway Drive in the northwest suburb Wednesday evening and found heavy fire going on the third floor, officials said.
The building was evacuated but one resident, Kenneth Vansickle, 55, apparently was trapped in his apartment and jumped from the balcony of a third-floor unit of the building, said Rolling Meadows Fire Chief Scott Franzgrote.
Update story. There's been at least 1 fatality
AT 10:04 PM MARCH 04, 2015
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He was taken to Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, where he was pronounced dead about 8:45 p.m., according to authorities.
Firefighters remained on the scene for hours fighting the blaze. No other injuries had been reported as of late Wednesday, but Franzgrote estimated several hundred people would be displaced. The apartment, which did not have a sprinkler system, had more than 50 units, officials said.
Fire Attacks Three Chicago Buildings, Displacing 18 People, Injuring Firefighter
VIDEO: Eighteen people were displaced and a firefighter was injured in an extra-alarm fire that destroyed one home and damaged two others on Chicago's South Side.
Homeowner Janice Hooper said firefighters were at her home, on the 7300 block of South Paulina Street, late Wednesday because she smelled smoke. Firefighters didn't find anything but returned at about 1 a.m. to find flames shooting out of Hooper's front door and through her roof.
The flames spread to a home and apartment building adjacent to Hooper's home, ultimately displacing 18 people, according to the American Red Cross.
None of the residents, which included five children, were injured but one firefighter was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn after slipping on ice. He was not seriously injured.
One resident lamented at the loss of her belongings but shed tears when a firefighter came out with her six-month-old kitten.
"I feel so happy to have her but I'm just so sad that everything that we had is gone," said Samia Hooper.
Rockford Fire Department Looking To Hire More Minorities
Firefighter James Graham has been working hard, trying to recruit minorities like himself for the Rockford Fire Department. He has been visiting churches, passing out flyers, and interacting with members of the black community. He says he has to educate a lot of them about the duties of firefighters.
Graham says, "Most of them have a fear of fighting fire and don't have a true understanding of the training we have, before fighting fires, so I have to explain to them that we get weeks of training before they are actually set forth.”
The Rockford Fire Department is more than 90% white, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is pushing it to hire more minorities
The Comission wants the Fire Department to develop a recruitment plan to increase the hiring rate of qualified minority firefighters, and bring in outside help to provide training to all employees involved in the hiring process. Rockford firefighter and recruiter for the department, Jeff Kloweit, says, "Anytime you have something that the EEOC puts out, we take that very seriously and we put things in place to remedy all the things they told us to do. Most of those things we were already doing.”
Graham says hiring minorities will help the department better reflect the diversity of Rockford. And his recruiting is working. He lets minorities know that becoming a Rockford firefighter will give them a bond with peers that can never be extinguished.
Interior cracks send new Clarendon Hills ambulance back for repairs
It's a good thing Clarendon Hills officials decided to keep their old ambulance as a backup when they purchased a new $259,000 vehicle in December 2014. The 2015 Freightliner/Horton ambulance, delivered Dec. 11, has been out of service since Feb. 23 because of cracks on the inside wall, said Fire Chief Brian Leahy. It is expected to be out for repairs until late March.
"There was some major cracking, and we took it back to the dealer," Leahy said. The dealer is Foster Coach Sales, Inc., a Sterling, Ill., company that only sells ambulances. They sent the ambulance to the manufacturer, Horton Ambulance, in Ohio.
"On March 9, it's going to be disassembled and then reassembled," Leahy said. "It stared with one crack and then five cracks a week later. The whole inside needs to be taken apart and put back together."
While he is disappointed about having the ambulance out of service just months after it arrived, Leahy is confident everything will be fine in the end.
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