The Officers and Firefighters of Hanover Park Fire Department continually strive to embody the mission and values of our organization. Quality compassionate service provided at times of great need to our residents and visitors is a mainstay of our department.
The year 2014 has been an exciting one in that multiple multi-year projects were finished or brought to substantial completion.
Since assuming responsibility for the building department and creating the Fire Department – Inspectional Services Division, a goal has been to complete a full review and update of all municipal codes. Work on this project is complete and the new codes are slated to take effect in early 2015. The new codes use as a base standard the 2012 International Code Council (ICC) regulations while having multiple local amendments designed specifically for the Village. This includes significant construction changes related to fire safety.
Beginning with implementation of these codes, all new single family residential and townhome units, as well as apartment buildings, will be required to install automatic fire sprinkler systems. Other changes to fire wall separations have been made that capitalize on newly designed products that, when partnered with sprinklers, allow design techniques that move away from the older existing protection systems which relied solely on masonry construction. We believe that these design changes will assist with economic development and will bring increased property value based on the structural design of buildings within the Village.
In addition, an update to the Health and Sanitation Code was completed and approved. Three new ordinances were developed, introduced and approved by the Village Board. These focus on vacant property restoration following demolition of buildings, one regulates dead and dangerous tree removal on commercial properties, and another sets new standards for commercial trash receptacles.
Thanks to the work of Assistant Chief Kenneth D. Zaccard the department again received a FEMA – Assistance to Firefighter Grant. This grant, valued at $70,000 will cover 90% of the cost associated with retrofitting automatic fire sprinklers into Fire Station No. 2. This modification will provide significant safety enhancements to fire personnel assigned to the station.
After years of discussion and planning the Village purchased a new enterprise resource planning software platform known as an ERP. This software, once fully operational will integrate internal and external management information across all departments and operations within the village. Implementation of this software is time consuming and tedious. A number of departmental personnel have worked on this project. Full implementation of all new processes will not be complete until well into 2015.
The department took delivery and has placed in service the new custom designed Hazardous Materials unit. This new unit is used as the “Rapid Response Hazardous Materials Squad” for all twenty (20) member agencies within MABAS Division 12. The unit is also the State and National Deployment vehicle used by the Division’s Hazardous Materials Response Team. The Department is proud to provide and operate this unique and special asset.
The department has completed specifications and has ordered a new custom built EMC/Utilimaster 18’ walk-in rehab unit. The Fire Corps Volunteer Response Team has provided, over the last eight (8) years, lifesaving rehab care to over 1,000 firefighters at actual emergency incidents. Using the experiences gained through this work, the department was able to realize a long standing goal of designing and purchasing a new rehab unit. The department expects to take delivery in May 2015.
Continuing our long standing tradition of being pioneers in the field of fire based EMS, the department purchased and implemented protocol that incorporates the state-of-the-art Lucas™ Chest Compression System. In order to reduce potential neurological damage based on cardiac arrest, it is imperative that EMS caregivers maintain a steady supply of oxygen to the heart and brain. This life-sustaining circulation can be created through effective and uninterrupted chest compressions. Performing high quality manual chest compressions that are maintained over the length of a resuscitation is extremely difficult. The LUCAS™ Chest Compression System is an efficient tool that standardizes chest compressions in accordance with the latest scientific guidelines. Studies indicate that mechanically controlled CPR is able to sustain a higher blood flow to the brain and heart compared to manual compressions.
Partnered with the Lucas™ is the TrueCPR™ Coaching Device used for manual compressions and the ResQPOD® Impedance Threshold Device designed to increase circulating pressure during CPR. The ResQPOD® when used as part of the airway management process creates a higher thoracic pressure making CPR more effective. The department is already seeing an increase in field resuscitation statistic even in the short time these devices have been available to department paramedics.
Work continues at the State and Local levels to help craft and support legislation necessary for EMS agencies to provide Mobile Integrated Healthcare Services. As part of this program we continue pushing to use fire stations as community immunization or basic health care clinics. Our goal is to utilize our highly educated and experienced personnel to provide diverse community services.
When pushing as hard as the department does to provide outstanding cutting edge services while developing long range plans and programs that often take years to implement, development of our future leadership is absolutely essential. The department again hosted several officer development/succession planning seminars using national speakers who challenged our people to expand and grow their abilities as fire service leaders and managers.
We were also able to again secure funding to continue our college level tuition reimbursement program. An exciting potential program is the relationship we are developing with Olivet Nazarene University where we are evaluating the possibility of an educational bridge program designed for licensed paramedics who have an Associate Degree. Under this potential program, paramedics would be able to obtain their RN License and a Bachelor of Science Nursing degree after completing specified coursework and clinical practicums over an 18-24 month period. The program is in the concept phase but has exciting potential benefits for both our personnel and the department.
Excellent labor management relations have continued. I deeply appreciate the leadership of the presidents and executive boards of both locals representing our firefighters. Presidents Brian Chmielak and John Stallings do an outstanding job of managing the interests of their employee groups; will working hard to find ways to keep employment costs down, and to enhance the overall services delivered to residents and businesses of the village. An example of this well respected and hard earned relationship is the milestone reached in July where neither that IAFF Local 3452 or SEIU Local 73 have filed a single labor grievance against the Village in over twelve (12) years. This frankly is one of my proudest accomplishments.
I am incredibly blessed to lead a wonderful staff dedicated to service and I could not be more proud of my team and the work they do. I want to thank Village President Rod Craig, the Village Board, and Village Manager Juliana Maller for their continued support. I want to thank my command staff, Assistant Chief Kenneth D. Zaccard, and Battalion Chiefs Pikora, Fors, and Doubek for a job well done. I extend a special thank you to Inspector Tom Hatzold for his willingness to serve as the Acting Chief of Inspectional Services for the last several months. Your leadership has been appreciated! In addition, I extend my appreciation and congratulations to Chaplain Dominowski who was recognized in January of 2014 as the Village of Hanover Park Citizen of the Year.
To the Company Officers, Firefighters, Inspectional Service Staff and Fire Corps members of the Hanover Park Fire Department, who do the daily work of our organization through their interaction with the community and our neighboring departments, your dedication and commitment is second to none and greatly appreciated – thank you!
Finally, none of us would be successful without the work of my administrative assistant Robin Dubiel. Robin produces far more work and juggles more balls than any one person should ever be asked to handle, and she does it all with excellence, integrity and a commitment to the department and my vision for the Hanover Park Fire Department.