With Springfield Fire Chief Barry Helmerichs retiring at the end of the month, Mayor Jim Langfelder is interviewing Springfield Fire Department members to find a replacement.
Langfelder is mandated to limit his search to the existing force because of a clause in the firefighters’ contract that stipulates the hire must be internal.
“All other persons assigned or appointed to positions in the Departmental structure as outlined in this Section of the Collective Bargaining Agreement shall be from within the classified fire service of the City of Springfield, Illinois,” states the contract, referring to the positions of fire chief, division chiefs and deputy division chiefs.
The provision is unique to Springfield, though the practice of promoting an internal candidate for chief is not.
City governments in Bloomington, Champaign, Normal, Urbana, Decatur and Peoria all are able to choose a fire chief from outside their current rosters.
Bill Sohn wasn't ready to retire from the South Elgin and Countryside Fire Protection District, but the 42-year department veteran said recent health problems have made it time for him to move on after four years as chief.
In recognition of that service, Sohn was honored Friday with a traditional fire department "walk out" ceremony complete with uniform review.
It was important to Steve Wascher, the new fire chief, that Sohn be saluted for his years with the department with a ritual that hasn't been done at South Elgin in several years.
Former chiefs of police, retired firefighters, current and retired office staff, area fire chiefs and the department's firefighters and staff turned out for the event. Sohn shook every hand and even a hugged a few people who lined up for the formal "uniform review." The walk out ended with the final tones coming over dispatch radio.
"It is a traditional way to end a career in the fire service," Wascher said.
Sohn officially retired March 9, and Wascher was sworn in March 10.
Chicago Tribune - Metered Site
The Illiopolis Fire Protection District is calling an Elizabeth Street home a total loss after an early morning fire. Two adults and four children were inside at the time.
The fire broke out early Saturday morning just after 5 A.M. The fire chief says the parents woke up to the smell of smoke. Two children were in the bedroom with them.
Once outside, the chief says the parents busted front windows and pulled the remaining kids from their bedrooms.
The mother remains in the hospital for smoke inhalation and cuts to her arms. One child, treated for burns from the elbows down, is also still in the hospital.
Several kids were treated for smoke inhalation.
WAND-TV NBC Channel 17
The Leyden Fire Protection District has a referendum question on the March 20 primary ballot.
The district is seeking support on a $1.5 million bond issue, which would be used to purchase a new ladder fire truck and ambulance, said Fire Chief Kory Ryan and board President Randy Olinski.
Ryan said the district is looking to replace a 1996 fire truck and 2013 ambulance, both of which have outlived their life expectancy, and repair and maintenance costs are more expensive. At this rate, he said, selling those vehicles has been hard because "in order to sell equipment that's worth something, they still need an update."
Officials said the bond, which would take effect in 2019 and stretch over the next 10 years, is enough to cover the expenses of the two vehicles. The estimated cost for a ladder fire truck is $1 million, and an ambulance could range between $200,000 to $300,000, Ryan said.
Chicago Tribune - Metered Site
More and more people are calling 911, but first responders say something needs to change, if they're going to keep providing emergency services to our Stateline community.
"911 system was designed to take care of people who were acutely ill, gravely injured, critical things," said Rockford Fire's Mobile Integrated Health Coordinator Brian Park.
But what happens when a service that's meant to help starts to be overused?
"Numbers wise we're looking at about a 1,000 call increase between 2016 and 2017," said Park.
"We've seen over the last 10 years, the numbers shown that the volume has increased about 3 percent a year consistently," said Freeport Fire Chief Todd Allen. "And then from 2016 to 2017 we saw a spike."
That spike was an increase of more than 300 medical calls.
WREX-TV NBC 13 Rockford
The Wheeling Fire Department hosted a disaster training exercise for several local fire departments Friday at the former Orange Crush asphalt facility located at 231 Wheeling Road.
The drill included a simulation of an explosion of the asphalt facility with six to eight employees unaccounted for. Team members needed to use rope skills in a confined space and deal with the need for heavy lifting and concrete cutting during the training exercise. Team members came from members of Mutual Aid Box Alarm System Division One, which is comprised of fire departments from Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Elk Grove, Hoffman Estates, Mount Prospect, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg and Streamwood.
Illinois Daily Herald