Chicago firefighters union sounds alarm about protective masks
Despite the burgeoning Ebola epidemic, the Chicago Fire Department has never “fit-tested” its 4,645 firefighters and paramedics to make certain that disposable face masks used to protect them from fluid transmissions are properly sealed. The Massachusetts manufacturer of the N95 respirator recommends — and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration demands — that first responders be tested annually to make certain the mask fits tightly enough to filter out small particles.
The tighter the fit, the more resistant the mask is to bodily fluids, which is how Ebola is transmitted.
But until the Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2 sounded the alarm this week, the Fire Department had distributed masks without fit-testing any of its employees.
“I can’t say who dropped the ball, but we’re taking this very seriously. You have to have a solid seal to prevent permeation. This is an obvious concern to all first responders because we will be the first ones to initiate patient contact,” union President Tom Ryan said Thursday.
2 women found dead after Northwest Side Chicago apartment blaze
Video: Two women died in a blaze that broke out in the basement of a two-flat building in the Belmont Gardens neighborhood Thursday night, authorities said. The fire started about 11:10 p.m. in the 4500 block of the West Parker Avenue on the Northwest Side, according to Chicago police and fire officials.
First responders found the two women, who appear to be in their 20s, in the building’s garden apartment, according to Chicago Fire Department officials. Fire personnel responded to the scene within three minutes, officials said. The cause of the fire is under investigation, police said. The Police Department's bomb and arson unit was on the scene Friday, and a canine unit indicated areas where accelerants could be present, sources said.
Joel Gonzalez, 33, who lives in the two-bedroom apartment on the second floor of the building, said he was taking a shower when the fire alarm went off.
Gonzalez said his mother and sister, who live in the apartment with him, went through a hallway filled with black smoke in order to get outside.
Chicago’s Second Greatest Fire: Union Stock Yards Fire of 1934
Highland Park Historical Society host on Thursday November 6th at 7:00 PM 'Chicago's Second Greatest Fire: Union Stock Yards Fire of 1934,' presented by Highland Park resident Jeff Stern. With less than four inches of rain having fallen since the first of the year, and temperatures hitting 92 degrees on May 19, 1934, Chicago was vulnerable. It took only a carelessly tossed cigarette in the Union Stock Yards that Saturday afternoon to set off the most destructive blaze since the Great Fire of 1871.
Winds of up to 60 miles an hour at times spread the fire faster than a man could run, and six of 100 pumpers sent to put it out it were themselves destroyed while attached to hydrants. Yet, although six square blocks of property, including parts of the steel 'L' structure, were left in ruins, the major packinghouses were saved.
This 80th anniversary program reviews the strategies taken to control the fire and features photos and documents relating to the efforts of 1,600 Chicago firefighters to extinguish it. Suburban departments were also recognized. No fewer than 31 sent men and apparatus to provide protection at vacated Chicago firehouses.
Jeff Stern is a member of the Board of the Fire Museum of Greater Chicago and Highland Park Historical Society. He has never been a Chicago firefighter, but has been involved with the Fire Department for well over 60 years. Whether it was the early motorized equipment that was still in service when he was growing up or some other aspect of the fire service that attracted his interest, he's not sure, but he managed to visit all 141 of the fire houses that were then in service before he turned 13, and was able to run with some of the busiest squads and chiefs.
Rochelle man injured in barn fire
A rural Rochelle man was injured Thursday afternoon after a furnace in his barn exploded, according to the Rochelle Fire Department. The man, whose name isn’t being released, was flown to OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center in Rockford for treatment of burns to 20 percent of his body – specifically his hands and his legs, the fire department said.
Crews from eight departments, including Rochelle, Ogle-Lee, Ashton, Lynn-Scott-Rock, and Oregon, responded to the scene at 1884 S. White Rock Road, east of Chana, just before 4 p.m.
The large barn, which is not a livestock barn, was located north of the intersection of Cottonwood and White Rock roads. Firefighters reached the blaze in time to stop flames from reaching the nearby home and its garage.
Rochelle firefighter Ben Johnson said a preliminary investigation indicated that the fire was accidental.
“At this point, we believe the fire originated from a malfunction of a furnace that the man was trying to light,” Johnson said. “That’s all we know for now.”
Woman, 78, burned in North Lawndale blaze
A 78-year-old woman was taken to a hospital for burn injuries following a fire in the North Lawndale neighborhood early Friday. Firefighters were called to the 1500 block of South Drake Avenue about 6:10 a.m., said Chicago Police News Affairs Officer Janel Sedevic.
A 78-year-old woman suffered minor burns and was taken to John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County, said Chicago Police News Affairs Officer Ana Pacheco.
Another victim, a man, was treated on the scene for his injury, said Sedevic said, citing preliminary information.