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Fire Safety Checklist

 

Congratulations Deputy Chief Daniel Johnson on 26 years service


On the last day of August of 2017, the Norwood Park Fire Protection District will watch as Deputy Chief Daniel Johnson serves his last day with us.

The Early Years

Just another Day on the Job

Although his sworn career began in 1991, he served as a contract Paramedic with the fire department for several years prior. On duty for some of the districts most memorable incidents, from the three flat explosion on Oak Park to the Maurice Lenell Cookie Factory Fire. Dan enhanced his certifications and education as well, attaining the rank of Lieutenant in 2002. In 2006 he accepted a position in the Fire Prevention Bureau, where he spearheaded fire and life safety codes for new construction as well as upgrades to older buildings.

 

 

His most lasting contribution to his fire department came after his promotion to Deputy Chief in 2015. With the 75th Anniversary of the Fire Department approaching, Deputy Chief Johnson took charge of a project to create a monument outside the front of the firehouse, with a part of the World Trade Center building from the 9/11 tragedy placed as a memorial for all to pay tribute to.

Its Been a Great Career 

For over 26 years, he epitomized his Fire Department, gave back to his community, and volunteered outside of his job for the sake of local charities. As he steps outside the doors of this station for the final time, he begins a new chapter in his life and a new career path.

Congratulations, Deputy Chief. The coffee is always warm for a return visit, and Thank You for your service.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Norwood Park Fire Protection District Board of Trustees Announce Selection of New Fire Chief
February 9, 2017

The Board of Trustees of the Norwood Park Fire Protection District are pleased to announce the selection of Terrence Vavra as the new fire chief for the District, effective February 13, 2017. The Board approved a 3-year contract at their special meeting held February 9, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.

The Board of Trustees entered into an agreement with the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association (IFCA) in September of 2016 to provide the search for the new fire chief after the announcement of the retirement of Chief Kevin Stenson, a 31-year member of the department. Chief Stenson had an exemplary career with the fire district having been promoted to Lieutenant in 1996, deputy chief in 2002 and fire chief in 2005.

From a field of sixteen applicants, eight candidates (comprised of candidates from inside and outside of the department) were selected by the Board of Trustees to participate in an Assessment Center evaluation by the IFCA, which was conducted on January 6, 2017. The IFCA presented a post-assessment report to the Trustees and they subsequently chose five finalists to participate in an oral interview with the Board on January 29, 2017. Chief Vavra was selected as the top candidate for the position.

Chief Vavra is very experienced senior officer having entered the fire service as a volunteer firefighter with the Lisle-Woodridge Fire District in 1976. Rising to the rank of Deputy Fire Chief, he managed a staff of 125 sworn and civilian personnel. During his career with Lisle-Woodridge, he was the Bureau Chief of Training and Safety and was instrumental in redesigning their internal training program. In 2008, Chief Vavra retired from the Lisle-Woodridge Fire District to assume the command position of Fire Chief for the Village of Buffalo Grove Fire Department. Buffalo Grove had 65 sworn and civilian personnel providing service to over 42,000 residents. Chief Vavra also served as the Village's Emergency Management Coordinator during his career with Buffalo Grove. He retired from Buffalo Grove in February of 2015.

Chief Vavra has a Master's Degree in Management and Organizational Behavior from Benedictine University and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Western Illinois University. He holds numerous Certifications from the Office of the State Fire Marshal including, Chief Fire Officer, Fire Department Safety Officer, Training Program Manager, as well as National Fire Academy certification in Command and Control. He is an active member in the International Association of Fire Chiefs, Illinois Fire Chiefs, Metropolitan Fire Chiefs and has served as a Board member of the Lake County Fire Chiefs Association, amongst others.

Chief Vavra has an extensive career that has been focused on training and leadership development, which was a strong attribute in the final selection by the Board of Trustees. He also has the diversity of responsibility having served in a fire district and municipal fire department. The Board is excited to have the opportunity to advance the professional development of the members of the fire district to meet the demands of providing high quality service to the residents of the district. The challenges in front of public safety today are much different than those of the past, and a renewed viewpoint will help the district in meeting the ever changing needs we face.

This is a new day in the history of the fire district and the Board of Trustees encourages everyone to provide a warm welcome to Chief Vavra, as we all work as a team together in our service to others.

BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE NORWOOD PARK FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT

 

Heat Advisory!

Heat Advisory

 

The Norwood Park Fire Protection District is proud to be a location for the new Pokemon Go Game.

FOREWARN! PLEASE DO NOT FIGHT OR LOITER AT THIS GYM!
The Norwood Park Fire Protection District is proud to be a location for the new Pokemon Go Game. We request you please limit your time outside the station as we respond suddenly and frequently to emergencies in our district and are concerned for your safety and health.
Thanks for your understanding!

This document is available to view in PDF format. Pokemon Go - Location, Fire Department

 

Congratulations Commander Paul Striedl

Commander Paul StriedlFire Departments are steeped with traditions, ties, and history. Some of these are as a result of the actual job and its history and some are made in the individual departments by the people who make a career there. As the Norwood Park Fire Protection District begins its 75th year serving the towns of Norridge, Harwood Heights, and the Norwood Park Township it does so by wishing well and saying good bye to a firefighter and an officer who has been a defining part of its story.

With a family history stretching back over 40 years (when his father, Robert Striedl was hired by and served the district as the firefighter), Paul Striedl joined the ranks of the Fire Department in 1986. Distinguishing himself not only on calls which helped define the department (and receiving an award of merit for one of them), Paul defines the qualities that best make up a firefighters person. Trained in High Rise and Technical Rescue, he also took an active role in the firefighter's wellbeing at the station, as well as running the Softball and Bowling Charity teams which participate in annual competitions. Paul was promoted to Lieutenant just before the millennium and for the final years of service to his community was appointed Commander. He accepted these responsibilities as a matter of course, moving forward but never forgetting his goals or where he came from. His final shift worked with us ends, for now, a family legacy with our department, but is only the beginning of his new life outside the fire service.

Thank You, Commander Paul Striedl, for your devotion, friendship, and strength from all of us at The Norwood Park Fire Protection District. The faces may change as years progress, people leave and more are hired, but no matter you will always be welcomed back to the firehouse to visit and enjoy the house your family has helped build.

Thanks Again!

 

Outdoor Safety - Snow Shoveling

Outdoor Safety - Snow Shoveling

 

Thank You Deputy Chief Kovalcik, for 28 years of service to your community!

Deputy Chief Kovalcik

It is never easy to announce the retirement of someone in the fire service. As much a pleasure it is to see someone be able to spend more time pursuing their interests with their family at the end of a long and fantastic career, it is difficult to say good bye to a Brother, a person who we as members of the Norwood Park Fire Protection District have spent a third of our grown lives with.

Deputy Chief Kovalcik          Deputy Chief Kovalcik

After 28 years with us, we leave the coffee pot on and an open door for our own Deputy Chief John Kovalcik. John was hired in 1987 and worked hard on a variety of department teams for the first part of his career, from taking charge of the Honor Guard, fighting fires, and being a part of local history as it was being built (like touring the Deep Tunnel project). Rising to the rank of Lieutenant in 1999, he became a mentor and friend to all the firefighters working with him and worked in the Fire Prevention Bureau to ensure the safety of the community in new and existing buildings. His skills and education in rescue allowed him to take part in the multi-state, multi division response to New Orleans after Hurricane Katerina struck in 2005.

Deputy Chief Kovalcik

For the next ten years afterwards, John served his firehouse as the Deputy Chief, managing all grant and training in addition to the job responsibilities. His contribution to both the community and the fire service at large will continue long past his time with us. Thank You John, for everything you have given us over the years!

 

Firefighters Honored with Award of Valor!

On the morning of January 7th the Norwood Park Fire Protection District responded to a report of a house fire with residents trapped. The firefighters, demonstrating courage and skills of the highest standards were instrumental in ensuring all 8 residents had been safety removed or rescued from the structure and received any needed medical attention. With the help of two police departments and 16 area fire departments who answered the call to help at this 2nd Alarm fire, it was contained and extinguished with no loss of life and minimal injuries.

On February of this year, at a special meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Norwood Park Fire Protection District, State Representative Rob Martwick, along with other area representatives, the Mayor of Norridge and Chief Stenson were proud to present the Award of Valor to the first due companies of Norwood Park, and well as being honored with a declaration of Valor by the State of Illinois.

Whether they were in Command, throwing ladders, helping victims, responding to the interior for Search and Rescue, pulling hose, opening hydrants or pumping water the Police and Fire personnel were an integral part of the rescue of those 8 persons. They were the First Responders, who fought wind chills of 30 below zero with no regard for themselves in the performance of their duties.

The Norwood Park Fire Department is proud present the Award of Valor to Commander David Blondell, Lieutenant Claude Erlewein, Firefighters Richard Appelhans, Randy Davis, Leigh Unger, and Stephen Swank as well as Paramedics Kurt Seiler, David Sanchez, David Pawlowski, and Chad Martin.

Congratulations, and Thank You for representing the very best of the Fire Service!

 

Life-Saving Monitor-Defibrillators with Wireless Transmission Capabilities

New Life-Saving Monitor-Defibrillators with Wireless Transmission Capabilities Help the Norwood Park Fire Department Battle the Major Health Crisis of Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Norwood Park Fire Protection District in conjunction with the Norwood Park Township Purchases Cutting-Edge Resuscitation Technology


Norwood Park Township donates a new Monitor Defibrillator to the Norwood Park Fire Protection District as part of an Intergovernmental agreement for the benefit of the residents of the District.
The Norwood Park Fire Department announced today that in conjunction with the Norwood Park Township it has purchased 2 new ZOLLŪ X SeriesŪ Monitor/Defibrillators to equip both of their Ambulances, to help treat the citizens of Norridge, Harwood Heights and unincorporated Norwood Park Township. The Fire Department was ordering one unit this year and if funds were available another next year. The Norwood Park Township through an Inter governmental agreement stepped up and offered to purchase the other Unit through a grant. The new Defibrillators cost $30,000 each and will arrive in 45 days.

The X Series is half the size and half the weight of competitive full featured monitor defibrillators, but a lot more powerful thanks to its advanced capabilities. Once a person is in cardiac arrest, it's a matter of life and death," said Fire Chief Kevin Stenson. "The X Series lets us assess the patient's needs as soon as possible and wirelessly transmit critical information to a receiving hospital so clinicians are prepared when the ambulance arrives. Wireless transmission allows the EMS crew and hospital staff to work as a team and start treating the patient without delay."

The new monitors help our paramedics make better patient care decisions faster and with more accuracy because patient data is provided so quickly. The monitor takes blood pressure readings, checks the heart rhythm, and can provide an electrical shock while assisting and improving CPR quality to keep oxygen-rich blood flowing.

"The new units not only help us save lives, but make the lives of our first responders a great deal easier by having so many life-saving capabilities in one unit," Chief Stenson added. "With this upgraded technology, we believe we are better equipped to protect the lives of our citizens whom we are honored to serve."

 

Black Ice

A hazard often overlooked but very associated with our recent spell of cold and warm winter weather is what is generically referred to as 'Black Ice'. But what is black ice? How does it get there and what can we do about it?

Black ice is not, of course, black at all. It gained this moniker from its most common source of incidents, the roadway. It is, in fact, a thin layer of ice with very few air bubbles, and so clear that it's transparent. This makes the black road beneath it crystal clear, looking either deceivingly normal or slightly wet in appearance. There are typically low levels of ice and snow nearby, making the roadway or walking area look clear.

The MOST deceptive part is, however, that it can form very quickly even when daytime temperatures are above freezing! This is because in the early day the warm air will start to melt the upper layers while the ground, still holding in the cold, keeps the underneath ice cool longer. Likewise, at night, the air cooling down quickly freezes the water on top back into a clear glaze, which you dismiss because of daytime temperatures.

But dismissal is the most dangerous part of black ice, on foot or in a vehicle. A slip and fall causes enough trauma when your body connects with the ground (still unprotected by any layer of snow or softer ice which normal winter conditions produce), but in a moving vehicle black ice can be a disaster. It's estimated that the stopping distance for a vehicle on black ice is NINE TIMES that of a vehicle in ordinary conditions, and black ice first indicates it's presence by a total absence of vehicle control.

Fortunately, we are not without resources of our own. Salt and calcium chloride can make driving and walking much safer in changing weather conditions, and an alertness while travelling can prevent most incidents from occurring. Remember that stopping and handling in a motor vehicle will be greatly impaired on black ice, and drive slower and more carefully in areas where it's been reported.

Finally, remember that bridges freeze before roads, making them areas for extra attention in the winter! This is because cold air is able to circulate both above and below the accumulated moisture, freezing it faster. Drive safely on all roads, with attentiveness and care, and make the most of our winter!

 

Prevention Through Alertness!

As Fall has transformed into Winter, the changes in temperature has brought about some severe weather near the fire district. Thankfully, our town was spared some of the more devastating results of these latest storm systems. As we reach out to the southern Illinois communities that bore the brunt of these storms, we also wanted to take a moment to address how our community reacts in a time of potential crisis. What systems are in place to warn us of local weather related dangers and what can you expect of your emergency responders as these events start to unfold?

Our district consists of Norridge, Harwood Heights, and the Norwood Park Township. For years now an early warning system has been in place to let residents know of impending weather conditions. You may have heard the noise before, as the system does an audible test at all speaker locations every Tuesday morning at about 10am. There is also a lightning alert which activates to warn people, especially children who might be playing league games or outside, of conditions which can create dangerous lightning in our area. However, there are many storms in which this system remains silent. Why is this? How does this system not activate when the TV stations are broadcasting alert systems on every station throughout Illinois?

The answer lies in the specific area covered by our alert system, and how it is activated. We are part of a regional alert system, called NORCOMM. During severe weather NORCOMM watches local weather conditions for our specific region and tracks weather changes. If potentially dangerous conditions and/or storm cells develop near our districts , NORCOMM sets off the regional alerts for our division, and we set off the tones with instructions for residents. In the event that a first responder notes changing weather patterns or a change of conditions that appear dangerous, they can also notify NORCOMM directly and take the initiative to protect the community. NORCOMM has specific criteria for the activation of this system, and a legion of storm monitors to maintain a close watch on weather patterns during storms.

Where news and internet services provide emergency information to their entire audience, the district focuses on the local response needs for our communities. This is why some television, cable, and internet alerts may provide information which isn't necessarily reflected in the activation of our system. Both are important to pay attention to, and both work hard to keep you safe and informed, both regionally and locally!

Daylight Savings Time

Daylight savings time approaches once again! Time measurement has always been based on the position of the sun (some of the first 'timepieces' were sundials), and noon was always when the sun was at it's highest (always a local phenomena). Although this way of determining time of day (called Apparent Solar Time) works locally, it plays havoc with travelers, who is the early days of travel would have to reset their watches sometimes more than 5 times along a thirty mile ride. In fact, the transportation industry is partially responsible for Daylight Saving Time as we know it (and in the U.S. it is currently regulated and changed as necessary by the Department of Transportation), and they have been since it was first instituted anywhere in the world, back in 1840 with the English railroads adoption of London time. It's origins go back even farther, to around the time of Benjamin Franklin. Because the Earth's orbit takes it further from the sun in the wintertime, he noted differing periods of day and night based on his clock and suggested an adjustment for the first time.
So how do railroad timetables and extra darkness help us at home? Because it gives us a reliable method of scheduling maintenance that can be performed while changing our clocks to reflect the 'new' time of day. Smoke Detectors should be checked for service monthly, but we ask that all residents replace their batteries twice a year, and we selected the Daylight Saving Time for this (this year-the date we change our clocks and Smoke Detector batteries is March 14th, by the way).

Keeping track of time and safety is easier when combined into a single task, and we ask you to also check the age of your Smoke Detectors and see how long they have been in your house. Smoke Detectors are most efficient in the first six or so years of life, and many of them have expiration dates to reflect when components are worn out and are no longer considered reliable. Many newer detectors have a series of pre-programmed alarms or chirps to tell you when one of these deadlines is approaching, but better safe than sorry, always visually inspect your detector and replace the batteries.

Time of day is different depending on your location in the world, but safety never takes time off, so take a moment on November 3rd to check those detectors and change their batteries!

Don't Give Fire a Ghost of a Chance!
By Firefighter Stan J. Koy

Halloween has been a night of fun and mischief for centuries. Originally called "All Hallows Eve" in fifth century Ireland, the festival which today is fun and games for children was rooted in legend and fear. Celtic belief was that persons who had died the previous year would come out on October 31st, and choose a body they needed to possess for one year before moving on into the afterlife. Since villagers didn't want to be possessed, they did everything they could to make themselves and their households unappealing to the dead.

On the night of the 31st, the villagers would put out all the fires in their household, making it cold and dark. Then, to frighten the roving ghosts and spirits, they would dress up and devils and witches and have an outdoor gathering to be as noisy as possible. Halloween, as introduced to America by immigrants, thus became known for dressing up and causing trouble, and was known as "mischief night" during the mid 1800s.

So what does this have to do with fire safety, in a month where Fire Prevention is prominent and there is so much ground to cover in safety? Let's look at what we can do in today's world, by taking lessons from the rich traditions of the past, to make our home and children safer.

Take a close look at your home. If you haven't had your furnace inspected by now, you might be inviting an unwelcome fire. Make a call and get it checked. Just as the villagers used to put out the fires in their household on the night of the 31st, you too should turn out lights and extinguish your candles and jack-o-lanterns before going out...even if you'll only be gone a minute!

If your children are going out, check their costumes for safety. Are the materials fire proof or fire resistant? Any store bought costume should have a label telling you which it is. The children will be playing around pumpkins and fire tonight, make sure there is no loose material on them which could catch fire. If they're wearing a hood or mask, make sure they can see through it.

Remember to give them a flashlight with fresh batteries, so cars and other people can see them walking. Always make sure they have adult supervision when trick or treating, and do an inventory of their haul at the end of the evening. This gives you a chance to inspect the goods for tampering before your children eat them.

If you're having people over to your house, it's a good idea to make sure you're ready for guests. Make sure your smoke detectors work, and have adults nearby the children while they play Halloween games, to minimize injuries.

Halloween is a fun, special time for children. Keep them safe from fire and injury...and keep them in the spirit of the holiday!

 

Keep Your Head Above Water!

The middle of summer has arrived, and with it the crazy and oppressive heat that drives us all towards water for swimming and sports. As more and more people take to the rivers and lakes of Illinois, it might be prudent to review some very basic safety facts of being in and around the water, particularly with children!
As hard to believe as it may sound, according to the US Coast Guard most drowning occurs near shore and in calm weather, and not in the storms and rough waters they produce. In fact, they say that 90% of all drowning fatalities happen in inland waters, and within a few feet of safety! So why does this happen and what can be done?

For the most part, downing happens because of a lack of safety devices, coupled with a moment's inattention or a failure to recognize a person in distress. Safety devices do not, in fact, have to be cumbersome and difficult devices with long instructions. A simple life jacket can prevent most drowning and still allow a child to swim and play in the water comfortably. When it comes to vessels on the water and personal watercraft (like jet skis, powerboats, sailboats, etc.), you are required to have one wearable life jacket for each person on board as a minimum standard (which should be worn at all times). Kids under the age of 13 must wear it whenever the vessel is underway unless they are below deck or in an enclosed cabin. Of course the local codes vary, but when you plan recreational water time with your family, focus on the safety of the family, and not a minimum standard required by law.

Life jackets come in different sizes and children's are approved for specific weight categories. Type I and Type II life jackets are the best in terms of buoyancy; a Type III properly fit life jacket has slightly better range of motion for good swimmers in the right height and weight categories. Always check the labels and make sure the fit and weight requirements are met. Most sports or boating stores can assist you in the selection of the right jacket for your needs, but when in doubt, play it safe so you can play safely!

Ounce of Prevention

It's amazing how, after centuries of progress in America, some the oldest axioms and sayings can still hold the most relevance for us. For example, as we approach the midpoint of June, which is National Home Safety Month, I am reminded of a quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin (written under an assumed name) which so closely illustrates this.

"In the first Place, as an Ounce of Prevention is worth a Pound of Cure, I would advise 'em to take care how they suffer living Coals in a full Shovel, to be carried out of one Room into another, or up and down Stairs, unless the Warmingpan shut; for Scraps of Fire may fall into Chinks and make no Appearance until Midnight; when your Stairs be in Flames, you may be forced (as I once was) to leap out of your Windows, and hazard your Necks to avoid being oven-roasted."

His advice was simple, direct, and very relevant to the people living in his era. Small mistakes, or oversights can quickly compound into life threatening conditions. Technology has brought us way beyond the point of carrying hot coals from one room to the next to keep warm, but has also removed our day to day thinking from the immediate danger a failure in our of our appliances, or an oversight on our part, can have.
In order to keep our families safe, we recommend you look to the following steps during home safety month, to be ready in the event of a fire or medical emergency.

Make sure you have working Smoke Detectors on each floor of your home, and within 15 feet of where your family sleeps. Regularly check them for operation and change the batteries every daylight savings when you change your clocks.

Many appliances in the household use natural gas, make sure you have working CO detectors installed per manufacturers recommendations, and call the fire department if they activate. CO detectors activate when appliances malfunction, but do not detect natural gas. If you smell a natural gas leak, call your fire department immediately!

Be prepared for a medical emergency with a well-supplied first aid kit, easily accessible in the home. If people in your family have prevailing conditions and take medication, keep a list nearby, or with it, for the paramedics when they arrive.

In addition to fire extinguishers in recommended household areas like the kitchen and garage, please prepare and share with your family and loved ones a Home Escape Plan. Extinguishers can help, but they also can provide a false sense of security in the event of a fire. Prepare and practice for leaving the house and being safe from a fire.

And finally, prepare ahead of time by checking the household for trip and fall hazards, loose flammable materials and ignition sources, and loose medications. These things have the potential of causing great harm, especially to seniors and small children, even when there is no pressing emergency.

The world moves faster and faster as technology advances, and it becomes easy to be lost in a world of distractions to the point where simple oversights can occur. Technology fails, oversights occur, but planning and "an ounce of prevention" can keep your family safe as much as it did in the 18th century!

 

Flood Safety

Floods can cause devastating damage. Even minor flooding can cause financial and emotional hardship − from damaged inventory and equipment at a business to personal items at your home. Follow these steps to help minimize loss before a flood and after the flood − and to help with the clean-up and your flood claim. Read the remainder of this article from The Hartford by clicking here.

Visit http://www.fema.gov/apply-assistance to see if you qualify for Federal Assistance.

 

Get The Scoop on Winter Safety!

Winter certainly has taken it's time coming to our fire district this year! A record absence of precipitation in any form is being remarked on the news almost every day. Temperatures for the latter half of 2012 and the beginning of '13 have ranged between the lower 20's to almost 60 degrees, and the rollercoaster ride may not be quite over yet!

It will, however, be over, and when it is we'll be back to the winter hobby of shoveling and snow blowing. It's easy in this dearth of cold to become complacent, so let's instead review a little personal and family safety when it comes to removing that snow and ice from our residences.

For those of you with snow blowers, here are a few essentials to remember, things that haven't changed a great deal since the first snow blower was introduced in 1953. Number one, and most important: Remember that this is a tool for snow removal, not a toy. It requires diligence and alertness when operating the machine, even for short periods of time. Always check around you when starting and operating your snow blower for debris which could become a flying hazard and children whom may be playing. The blades in the snow blower are not discriminatory towards children and toys; they'll cut up and throw anything they can. Remember to turn the blower off before cleaning out any clogs. Follow your manufacturer's recommendations for cleaning and servicing the blower, and don't take the blower being off for granted! Releasing a plugged set of blades may cause them to suddenly start turning again. If your snow blower comes with a tool for cleaning out debris, use it following the manufacturers' recommendations!

Of course there's always the good old fashioned standby, the shovel. For the calorie conscious, a 15 minute spell is considered moderate physical activity, akin to brisk walking or dancing. This is bad news for people whom moderate physical activity or stress can be dangerous, for example-those with heart conditions. The greatest loss of life after large snowstorms is related to the physical activity and strain placed upon the hearts of people doing the shoveling. Shoveling, already a source of higher blood pressure and heart rates, can be made even more problematic if the weather is particularly cold, or you haven't dressed for the cold properly.

So what to do? If you have a history or heart related problems, don't tackle the snow head on, get help. Ask your physician if you should be shoveling the snow, and take his advice.

Be careful with the shoveling. Use a smaller shovel to lift less snow (and therefore less weight) with each scoop, and lift properly to protect your back from injury.

Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water before you begin, and avoid nicotine and caffeine. These are stimulants which will increase your heart rate and blood pressure and place extra stress on your heart.

Dress for the weather, using multiple layers to keep warm. You can always take them off if you begin to overheat.

Think of shoveling as a workout, prepare by warming up appropriately-and listen to your body! If something starts to hurt-stop shoveling immediately!

And finally, be prepared for ice, and potential slipping. Keeping your walkways clean means you and your loved ones can get to where you're going safely, and when you're out take a moment to check on your neighbors and loved ones, and look around. People who are hurt or have fallen might not be easily visible, after all.

Enjoy the new year safely-one step at a time!

 

Holiday Fire Safety

The origin of the Christmas Tree has been traced back over 1300 years, near the town of Geismar, Germany. It is said that Saint Boniface linked the tree to Christianity for the first time when, felling an Oak to prove that it was not sacred, he toppled it directly into a group of trees, knocking over all but the Fir. A few centuries later, Martin Luther lit a tree with candles to capture for his family what the evergreens looked like when surrounded by stars. Since then, Christmas trees have been synonymous with decorations and lighting of all types. As we leap into the spirit of the holiday season this year, let's reflect a little on some of the things we've learned about safety during these celebrations.

It's extremely dangerous to use lit flames on or near a Christmas tree, and heat from holiday lights can be enough to start needles burning, especially if not watered regularly. If you choose a live Christmas tree to celebrate, there are a few things to know before you relax around your tree.

The first is how live the tree really is. Some of these trees may have been cut down weeks or even a month in advance. Although they might look alive, check them before you buy. If a tree is starting to turn brown around the edges or the pine needles fall off the tree easily to the touch or gentle shake, keep looking! When you find the right tree, don't bring it into your house until you're ready to use it, and cut off a section of the trunk 1-2" from the base for better water absorption. Keep the tree away from heat sources, outlets, and clear from doors and exits. It may look good aesthetically, but would trap you inside if it burned. Remember to water your tree daily, newly placed trees will absorb up to a gallon a day in some cases, and will dry out quickly unless regularly "fed".

Always check your decorations before putting them on the tree. Light strings should be checked to ensure they're working, don't leave empty sockets where burned out bulbs were removed. Look for cracked or frayed wiring, and plug them in for 10 minutes to check for smoldering bulbs before placing them on your tree. All your lights should be UL listed and approved, and never use electric lights or ornaments on a metal tree. Be sure to turn your lights off when you aren't at home, and make sure extension cords and wall outlets aren't overloaded. Keep the cords away from where people move around to prevent tripping, and never cover them with a rug or carpet, that will trap the heat and could lead to damage by people standing, walking, or moving furniture over them.

How many lights are too many? The US Fire Administration recommends no more than three light strands be linked together at one time. Consider a ground fault power strip or extension cord between your outlet and the strings as an extra precaution. Newer LED lights can be attached in longer strings, but check the manufacturers' recommendations before using them!

Make sure your ornaments, and indeed your tree (if it's artificial), are fire resistant/ flame retardant. Many artificial trees kept for more than a decade or more might not be. Finally, check your smoke detector and make sure it is working properly. It's your first line of defense if something gets overlooked! Be sure, be safe!

Think for a moment about the items under your tree this year too. If the gift you give or get has a registration card included, fill it out and send it in! From power tools to car seats, many items today end up being recalled by the manufacturer due to defects, some of which could be hazardous. Sometimes those cards are the only way for them to contact you. The cards are always postage paid, a stroke of the pen could save you a lot of grief later. If your worried about toys or aren't sure if they're safe for your children, check with the Consumer Product Safety Commission. They can be reached by phone at (800) 638-2772, via e-mail, or check their website at CPSC.gov. Never burn your wrapping paper and refuse either...throw it away instead!

What can be the Fire Service's favorite holiday celebration is a little wreath you may notice just outside your local fire department, with all red lights lit. We remove a red bulb each time there's a holiday-related fire. The Norwood Park Fire Department hopes you'll give us the gift of one more Christmas in the red. We wish you and your family the very happiest of the Holidays!

 

Toys For Tots

The Norwood Park Fire Protection is proud to team up with United States Marine Corps and be a donation site for their annual Toys For Tots program!

Toys for Tots can be traced back to 1947, when a group of Marine Reservists led by Major Bill Hendricks collected and distributed 5,000 toys to needy children in the Los Angeles area. After that successful first run the program was formally adopted by the U.S. Marine Corps and made a nationwide program.

The program has evolved since its inception, too. Where Marines once refurbished used toys collected, they now accept new toys for needy children (and ask that no stuffed animals be donated please). Star power has come out in force, and celebrities over the decades have lent their names and talents to the program. The Toys for Tots logo was designed, in fact, by Walt Disney himself!

The Fire Department, like so many others, is proud to continue to support this non-profit venture, and would like you to help us support the needy this holiday season.

How? Easy! There is a collection bin marked inside the station at the east door. Pick up the phone in the gray call box and a firefighter will be happy to let you in to donate to this terrific cause! We are collecting new toys (unwrapped and in unopened containers) from now until December 20th, 2013, when one of the fire department's own members will drive them to the donation center!

 

Commendation from the American Legion

On September 12th, Firefighter Richard Appelhans was given a commendation from the American Legion along with a medal for Outstanding Heroism in recognition of his efforts in rescuing a disabled person during a structure fire. The fire, which occurred on March 22nd of this year, was in a three flat. As a member of the truck company, Firefighter Appelhans was assigned to do a search and rescue operation, and came upon an elderly woman trapped in her apartment and wheelchair bound. Richard was able to gain assistance of another resident and rescue the woman from the room as it was starting to fill with smoke.

The commendation was read and delivered by the American Legion at the fire department's Board of Trustees meeting, with the medal being presented to and placed on Firefighter Appelhans by Chief Kevin Stenson.

More about the incident can be read here.

Congratulations Rich!

Keeping Safe in the Water!

The Norwood Park Fire Protection District is proud to acknowledge and pass on this valuable article on swimming and boat emergencies written by Mario Vittone of the United States Coast Guard:

The new captain jumped from the cockpit, fully dressed, and sprinted through the water. A former lifeguard, he kept his eyes on his victim as he headed straight for the owners who were swimming between their anchored sportfisher and the beach. "I think he thinks you're drowning," the husband said to his wife. They had been splashing each other and she had screamed but now they were just standing, neck-deep on the sand bar. "We're fine, what is he doing?" she asked, a little annoyed. "We're fine!" the husband yelled, waving him off, but his captain kept swimming hard. "Move!" he barked as he sprinted between the stunned owners. Directly behind them, not ten feet away, their nine-year-old daughter was drowning. Safely above the surface in the arms of the captain, she burst into tears, "Daddy!"

How did this captain know, from fifty feet away, what the father couldn't recognize from just ten? Drowning is not the violent, splashing, call for help that most people expect. The captain was trained to recognize drowning by experts and years of experience. The father, on the other hand, had learned what drowning looks like by watching television. If you spend time on or near the water (hint: that's all of us) then you should make sure that you and your crew knows what to look for whenever people enter the water. Until she cried a tearful, "Daddy," she hadn't made a sound. As a former Coast Guard rescue swimmer, I wasn't surprised at all by this story. Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing, and yelling that dramatic conditioning (television) prepares us to look for, is rarely seen in real life.

The Instinctive Drowning Response - so named by Francesco A. Pia, Ph.D., is what people do to avoid actual or perceived suffocation in the water. And it does not look like most people expect. There is very little splashing, no waving, and no yelling or calls for help of any kind. To get an idea of just how quiet and undramatic from the surface drowning can be, consider this: It is the number two cause of accidental death in children, age 15 and under (just behind vehicle accidents) - of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. In ten percent of those drownings, the adult will actually watch them do it, having no idea it is happening (source: CDC). Drowning does not look like drowning - Dr. Pia, in an article in the Coast Guard's On Scene Magazine, described the instinctive drowning response like this:

1. Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. Th e respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled, before speech occurs.
2. Drowning people's mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people's mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.
3. Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water's surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water, permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.
4. Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.
5. From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people's bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.

(Source: On Scene Magazine: Fall 2006)

This doesn't mean that a person that is yelling for help and thrashing isn't in real trouble - they are experience aquatic distress. Not always present before the instinctive drowning response, aquatic distress doesn't last long - but unlike true drowning, these victims can still assist in there own rescue. They can grab lifelines, throw rings, etc.

Look for these other signs of drowning when persons are in the water:

  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
  • Eyes closed
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Not using legs - Vertical
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
  • Trying to roll over on the back
  • Ladder climb, rarely out of the water.

So if a crew member falls overboard and every looks O.K. - don't be too sure. Sometimes the most common indication that someone is drowning is that they don't look like they're drowning. They may just look like they are treading water and looking up at the deck. One way to be sure? Ask them: "Are you alright?" If they can answer at all - they probably are. If they return a blank stare - you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them. And parents: children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you get to them and find out why.

Out and About This Summer!

Summer arrived hard this past month, with temperatures climbing thirty degrees overnight in some cases, and after a long winter, people have started finding themselves climbing the walls to get out and start enjoying summertime. For most, this means camps, sports, vacations...anything that takes the family into sunlight and away from electronics...and most people will get there by automobile.

Automobile vacations are already up for the year, and even more so automobile staycations (there's a term that will be in dictionaries soon!). Of course we've been inundated with a variety of safety talks and commercials to limit accidents. Everything from 'Click It or Ticket' to free child safety seat checks are touted regularly in most media forms. Despite this, nationwide there have already been 66 fatalities of children based on automobile accidents THAT WEREN'T COLLISIONS. So what types of accidents could these be? Playing with seat belts, windows, and other vehicle devices account for many of them. Another type of incident is becoming more prevalent, leaving children unattended in the car.

It doesn't take much, in all honesty, for a perfect day out to become a tragedy. In a car with windows closed, the interior temperature can climb a degree a minute and more for the first half hour, meaning that it's entirely possible an infant could die of hyperthermia on a comfortable 75 degree day in less than 20 minutes. Children in the past have died on substantially cooler days as the car becomes stifling also, since the body over time loses it's ability to compensate for the heat building up. Although it's believed that cracking the windows would make a significant impact, studies have shown this to not be true, as the heat cannot be released as quickly as it builds in the vehicle. An illustration of this type was seen on a large scale in the 1990's in Chicago, when the heat build up overcame people in their homes and apartments without air conditioning...at that time, fans did little more than push heated air around. Who were the victims? Elderly, children, and the sick.

But we will be driving around this summer...and it will be hot! There will be children in our cars and some of us won't have air conditioning. So what can be done? Here are some tips to help you make the most of a safe season:

When traveling with kids, whether on business or pleasure, keep your "needs" in the backseat on the floor (be that a cell phone, laptop, or diaper bag). Then you'll have to go back there every time you stop to get them , reducing the danger of a child being left behind or even temporarily forgotten. Children and infants are small and hard to see, infant seats also face backwards and so you can't readily see a child in the rearview mirror. Keep them on the passenger side or in the middle of the back seat whenever practical, to improve their visibility to you.

Keep kids in the fluids, and out of the car! Follow pediatrician recommendations for drinking water and other drinks in the heat to keep hydrated, and make sure the car is a "No Go Zone" for kids, who love to play inside parked cars without realizing the dangers even an unlocked car can have for a playful child. Also, practice practicality for your car. Unlock all doors and keep your key in hand or out of pockets and purses when placing your child in the car after or before shopping. Children have been locked in cars at the mall by parents who strapped them in and inadvertently triggered the automatic locks on the car doors. If you're shopping locally, make sure someone reliable can get access to a spare car key at your house, and call 911 for assistance from Police and Fire Departments. Don't wait when you discover a problem, a degree a minute on a hot day doesn't give you the time you think you have!

Lastly- Your child always leaves the car when you do! Even if it's only "for a second". There is no inconvenience so great to risk a child's life, and we have a habit of losing track of time on errands, so play it safe!

For more tips and tricks to child safety in vehicles, please check out www.Kidsandcars.org. Have a great summer, and a safe one with your family!

 

Clothes Dryer Fire Prevention

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are over 14,000 fires, 10 deaths and 10 injuries annually due to clothes dryer fires, and several hundred people a year are also subjected to carbon monoxide poisoning from improper dryer vent setups. Although faulty appliances are to blame in some cases, many fires can be prevented with proper dryer venting and cleaning.

So...just how does a Clothes Dryer Fire Occur?

Lint accumulation and reduced airflow feed on each other to provide conditions ripe for a fire. Lint is a highly combustible material, which, interestingly enough, is one of the ingredients in a recipe for Boy Scout campfire starters. Lint sheds from all clothing during the drying process, and a lint trap if cleaned and in place will often collect most of that. In older homes, straight ductwork would take the remainder out of the basement and the house through an exhaust hole.

So...what's changed?

Most older homes have basement laundry areas, nowadays though many newer homes tend to have dryers located away from an outside wall in bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens and hall closets. These new locations mean dryers tend to be vented longer distances and vents are generally installed with sharp turns and bends to accommodate the structure of the home. As a result, dryer vents are harder to reach, and also create more places for lint to gather. The ideal solution is to have short, straight, dryer duct venting. However, a dryer vent booster, while not the ideal approach, can improve your dryer venting in cases where your venting is longer and/or has more bends than it should. In addition to creating a fire hazard, if the venting is too long and/or has two many bends, it will cause your dryer to take much longer than necessary to dry loads. The venting material tends to be flexible material which, although ideal for construction in homes, may offer additional places for lint to collect on it's way out of your house.

What's happening inside my Dryer?

Lint is! As you know from cleaning out your lint filter, dryers produce very large quantities of lint. Although you may assume that lint traps catch all the lint, and that all you need to do is clean them out after each load, a significant amount of this lint is not caught by the lint trap and builds up inside the dryer-including on the heating element, causing it to overheat and possibly catch fire. As a rule, a fire starts from a spark in the machine. However, improper clothes dryer venting practices outside the dryer can play a role in this process.

What about outside my Dryer?

There are many improper dryer vent practices which restrict airflow and lead to lint buildup, some preventable causes of clothes dryer fires are:

1. Dryer vents which are too long, have too many bends, or don't use a dryer duct booster, which results in lint buildup. If there's any say in the matter with your house, remember the adage that shorter and straighter is better. The air pushing the lint out that gets through your lint screen is powerful enough in short runs to push it out of your house, and make cleaning it a snap.

2. Use of flammable, flimsy plastic or foil duct extenders. Only metal vents should be used, which is what most manufacturers specify. Metal vents also resist crushing better than plastic and foil, which allows the air and lint to be carried out of the system. Reduced airflow from build-up or crushing can cause overheating and wear out the appliance faster. In fact, many state and local municipalities have placed requirements on new and remodeling projects to include all metal dryer venting. If you aren't sure what's required, or was when your house was built, call and ask the Building Department! They'll let you know what works best and safest in your house!

3. Inadequate clearance space between dryer and wall. Many people create problems by putting their dryer right against the wall, crushing the venting material in the process. The cumulative effect of reduced airflow and the resulting lint build-up prevent the dryer from drying at the normal rate. This causes the high temperature limit safety switch to cycle on and off to control the heater. Most high temperature limit safety switches were not designed to continuously cycle on and off, so they fail over a period of time. Our districts two most recent dryer related fires were due to excessive lint build up due to the crushing exhaust pipe! It can happen!

4. Failure to clean the dryer duct. Keeping your dryer clean not only reduces the fire hazard, you also save money since your dryer will run more efficiently and last longer. To keep your dryer clean, use a lint brush or vacuum attachment to remove accumulated lint from under the lint trap and other accessible places on a periodic basis. Then, every 1-3 years, depending upon usage, have the dryer taken apart and thoroughly cleaned out by a qualified service technician. Most importantly though, clean the lint trap after each use.


Is there a way to tell if my dryer might be clogged?

Prevention is the tried and true way of making sure you never have a problem. If the clothes take a longer period of time to dry than they should, come out hotter than usual or if the vent hood flapper doesn't open you may need to have maintenance done on your dryer.

Remember: Checking and cleaning your lint traps and occasionally cleaning your dryer exhaust pipes goes a long way towards dryer clothes and safer houses!

March 11th is a great time for Fire Safety!
March 2012

A very mild winter is finally passing, and Spring will bring with it new growth and warmth. We can relax, put away the shovels, and maybe do some simple maintenance around the house so we can relax this Spring.

One opportunity we have for making our homes safer in March is Daylight Saving Time (improperly referred to as Daylight Savings Time). For hundreds of years time was based on the position of the sun (some of the first 'timepieces' were sundials), and noon was always when the sun was at it's highest. Although this way of determining time of day (called Apparent Solar Time) works locally, it plays havoc with travelers, who is the early days of travel would have to reset their watches sometimes more than 5 times along a thirty mile ride. In fact, the transportation industry is responsible for Daylight Saving Time as we know it (and in the U.S. it is currently managed by the Department of Transportation), and they have been since it was first introduced back in 1840 with the English railroads adoption of London time.

So how do railroad timetables and adoption of time zones help us at home with fire safety? Because it gives us a reliable method of scheduling maintenance that can be performed while changing our clocks to reflect the 'new' time of day. Smoke Detectors should be checked for service monthly, but we ask that all residents replace their batteries twice a year, and we selected the Daylight Saving Time for this (this year-the date we change our clocks and Smoke Detector batteries is Sunday, March 11th).

Keeping track of time and safety is easier when combined into a single task, and so we ask you to also check the age of your Smoke Detectors and see how long they've been in your house. Smoke Detectors are most efficient in the first six or so years of life, and many of them have expiration dates to reflect when components are worn out and are no longer considered reliable. Remember, Safety never takes time off, so take a moment on March 11th to check those detectors and change their batteries!

Retirement of Commander Charles Stec
March 2012

It is with both a mixture of pride and sadness that the Norwood Park Fire Protection District announces the retirement of Commander Charles "Chuck" Stec!

For over 28 years, Chuck has been an active firefighter with both his department and the community. Hired in 1983, he earned an Award of Valor just ten years later for his part in the Bella Pasta fire, in which two firefighters suffered injuries. Active in fundraisers both local and statewide for fire related causes, he was promoted to Lieutenant in 1999, taking charge of both the department's maintenance and later the website for the Fire District.

Chuck was appointed Shift Commander in the new millennium, and distinguished himself in his service to the new firefighters as well as the officer's he helped to mentor.

Congratulations on this new chapter in life, we'll keep a hot cup of coffee waiting for you in the kitchen!

The Norwood Park Fire Department
Honor Guard blesses Charles Stec
and his bride, Cynthia Siemers,
on their wedding day.
Lieutenant Stec is congratulated
 by Chief Stefanowicz on
his new promotion!
   
Commander Stec and his son, helping out at
the annual Fire Department Open House.

 

Illinois public fire safety educators alert NFPA of children's deaths from falling televisions
March 2012

Illinois public safety educators informed NFPA that four young children in the Chicago area since October of 2011 had died after being struck by falling televisions. According the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), "on average, one child dies every two weeks when a TV, piece of furniture, or an appliance falls on them [sic]." Health Canada says that children between the ages of one and three are the victims of more than 70% of reported television tip-over incidents in Canada.

Deaths and injuries from this type of incident appear to be on the rise, according to Dr. Gary Smith, president of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance in Columbus, Ohio. Smith suggests that parents may be placing new flat screen TV's in areas that children can easily reach and that they may be placing the older, heavier televisions the flat screen TVs replace on dressers in bedrooms, making them very easy to knock over.

Below are some tips from the CPSC and Health Canada on preventing television and furniture tip-overs:

*Supervise young children and teach them not to climb on furniture. Remind them to stay away from televisions.

*Place televisions on wide, sturdy, low stands or bases that sit directly on the floor. Furniture with legs is less stable. Place the televisions as far back on the stands and close to the wall as possible.

*Attach tall furniture and televisions to the wall using safety straps, anchors, or angle braces. These items often come with new televisions or furniture, or they can be purchased from a hardware store.

*Avoid placing televisions on dressers. Children can easily use the drawers as steps, causing the dresser or television to topple over.

*Keep toys, remote controls, and other items of interest to children away from the television or on tall furniture.

Auld Lang Syne
January 2012

The Norwood Park Fire Protection District would like to take this month as one of sober reflection and memory for one of our dear departed. In November of last year the fire service lost our closest link to times gone by. Thomas M. Green, aged 91, was a volunteer firefighter with our Fire Protection District from the late 1940's until our department went from volunteer to career service. He served his community faithfully as a firefighter, an employee for the school district and several other jobs, remaining in his first home on Eastwood street (when it was built, the only other visible house to the northwest was on Higgins street) until it was destroyed by an accidental fire in 2003.


Tom joined the Norwood Park fire service while it was in it's infancy, working as a firefighter and an Engineer for the district. As a volunteer he was one of the builders of our second firehouse on Montrose Street as well as the rehab of Station #1.


Tom Green did not end his service to the District as a volunteer. He became a commissioner and served as one for over 25 years, shaping the District into the proud service it is today!


A veteran of World War II, Tom served in Europe with the Blue Devils. He connected proudly with the Army and his country, and was buried at his request in his uniform with a full military service. The firefighters and officers were proud to perform honor guard details for Tom, and his knowledge, humor, and passion will be missed as surely as it will never be forgotten.


The Norwood Park Fire Department would like to Thank You, Tom, for making us what we are!

 

Traffic Accidents
March 2011

As a firefighter, certain patterns tend to emerge over time in the type of incidents we see. Depending on the time of year, certain calls seem more prevalent than others, often for reasons that defy analysis. March is the time of new growth and rebirth. Winter is, if not ending, definitely been given it's walking papers. So we start looking forward to warmer weather, and traffic related calls suddenly begin to spike. Bear in mind that 'traffic related' calls can mean any number of things. Car seat inspections begin to rise, for example, as well as the usual interpretation...car accidents.

Traffic accidents are nothing new, and are, in fact, much older than many people know. The first recorded automobile fatality happened in Parsontown, Ireland way back in 1869. A unique accident for its time, the incident itself has been mirrored since in thousands of accidents a year, and as cars have evolved so have the types of accidents we're likely to encounter with them. We have, however, a fairly standard approach to car accidents we respond to, and knowing this may make it easier for you to handle what seems to be a very out of control and emotional experience.

First and foremost, call 911 if you can. Start the process which allows us to check up on you, and take a moment to assess your health and well being. You will find, on our arrival, that our interest in your automobile is focused on making sure it is secure and not a danger to you or anyone around you. If you witness or come upon an accident, please don't try to drive through the scene. The Police do an excellent job of traffic control, and try to not slow things up too much, but safety of first responders is paramount if we're going to be able to help victims.

So what are some of the things we're going to do? First and foremost after the scene is safe we'll check on you and any other people whom may have been involved in the accident. We'll try and secure your car, and putting it in park, turning it off and placing the keys on the dashboard visibly may be a few of the things we'll do. This insures the car stays put and minimizes the chance of the car becoming a danger because of something we can't see.

We'll ask you a few questions, some of which may not make sense to you, and may even seem trivial. They aren't, every question is geared towards learning what might have happened to you when your vehicle had the incident. If we have to extricate, we'll get to work after providing you with the most protection and safety we can. Our goal with extrication is to remove the car from you, not you from the car. It will sound a little scary, but we'll be there to help you every step of the way.

We'll protect you from further harm. If you have to be placed on a board or given a neck collar it will be uncomfortable, but necessary. Oftentimes the precautions we take can lead people to believe an injury is worse than it is. If you are a minor we cannot allow you to refuse a trip to the ER without a parent present. That's a law, and it's in your best interest.

Our job revolves around your safety and well being. We do understand this can be traumatic, and the confusion of the scene may lead you to think outside our priority box. Listen to the Police, let us help you, and all the details will get worked out for you and your family. Remember, we care about you and your family!

Times Gone By
January 2011

The end of the year marks all types of festivities, from the gift giving and religious holidays to the New Year's celebrations. The end of one year marks the beginning of another. Many people take time to consider the events that have happened, and think about things that are yet to be. One tradition is the New Year's resolution. People either select goals to accomplish, or bad habits to give up in the coming year.

Another tradition is the singing of Auld Lang Syne. Although those words as written may not be all that familiar to many people, the first verse is guaranteed to spark recognition. As adapted from a poem by Rabbie Burns, the first verse is "Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And auld lang syne?"

Auld lang syne translates roughly as "times gone by". The song reminds us of the importance of the good old days, and the not so good old days. As we wrap up 2010 in fun and festivities, let's focus on our resolutions to prevent accidents in 2011, and double our efforts not to forget the lessons of times gone by.

In the business world, this is called being proactive. Your fire department works daily at being proactive at all levels in the community-whether it's child safety seat installations, condominium fire safety talks, or having our Fire Inspector check businesses for code compliance. As this new year begins, let's take a moment to resolve to be proactive as individuals, for the sake of our families and us. When you're in a building, take a moment to find a second exit in the event of a problem-include your workplace here. Check your smoke detectors one more time; watch traffic a little more closely at intersections. If you see someone doing something they shouldn't, whether it's under aged drinking or playing with lighters...make the call. Anonymously or not, a quiet word to the right person can stop an accident before it happens.

We tend to recall our old times when seeing others do things. This world is not the one that we enjoyed when we were younger, however. Our having avoided an accident is no indication that someone else will. So I ask all of you to make a New Year's resolution for fire and life safety, so we can all sit back one day and talk of auld lang syne!

"Keep the Wreath Red" Program
December 2010

Happy Holidays! Unseasonably warm weather in the greater Chicago area has given us a chance to set up decorations for our favorite celebrations early and to better effect! It's impossible to drive down any street without seeing a myriad of lights, inflatable Santas, and wreaths adorning the houses and businesses in our district. Looking at fire departments as you drive past, you will notice one decoration we all seem to have in common, a wreath in front, decorated in red bulbs. You might also see the phrase "Keep the Wreath Red" or a similar challenge to you.

What does it mean to keep the wreath red? Where did this idea come from?

The "Keep the Wreath Red" program was established in 1954 by an Illinois Paid-On-Call Firefighter, Paul Boecker. The program is a visual reminder for us to take safety precautions during the holiday season to make it a safe one for our families and loved ones.

"Keep the Wreath Red" was adopted by the IFCA (Illinois Fire Chiefs Association) in 1980 to alert residents of fires caused by holiday decorations, and promote prevention through awareness. All of the wreaths bulbs are initially red, if a fire is directly caused by holiday decorations, one red bulb will be changed to a white one.

So...how do we keep the wreath red this year? When decorating your homes and businesses, pay attention to the instructions on your decorations. Lights have specific overload limits that must be adhered to, and are labeled to let you know how many you may string together. Make sure extension cords aren't in footpaths or areas they could become damaged.

Christmas trees account for 250 fires annually, resulting in 14 deaths, 26 injuries and more than $13.8 million in property damage. Shorts in electrical lights and open flames from candles, lighters or matches start tree fires. Well-watered trees are not a problem. Dry and neglected trees can be, so water your holiday tree and keep it away from open flames and space heaters too.

Remember when lighting candles that they should be extinguished at the end of the festivities, and to check your candle holders to see that they can handle the heat, and aren't just for decorative purposes.

That wreath in the front of our firehouse is a testament to your safety and care, so Keep the Wreath Red this year!

Don't See Red This Summer!
July 2010

What a beautiful Summer it's turning out to be! July's fireworks have rolled over into beach worthy days and hot Summer nights! Now more than ever we're leaving the house for children's camps, beaches and pools, and playgrounds. Ever present with such beautiful days is a temptation to avoid the basics while getting out there, and forgetting those little things might get you burned!

Without proper sun protection, people can begin to burn within 15 minutes of being outside. What, however, is 'proper' sun protection, and what do those fancy SPF numbers on the bottle mean? Most important, what can be done if there's an "Oops" in the sun?

SPF actually means something!!!! It stands for Sun Protection Factor, and the numbers to guide you range from 2 to somewhere around 50. Those numbers represent an ideal time factor of protection. SPF 2 through 15 work mathematically in this way. Say it takes you 15 minutes to burn without a protective sunscreen. An SPF rating of 4 means that you could be in that same sun for four times that 15 minutes, or one hour, before starting to burn. This works all the way through SPF 15, at which point the extra protective time falls off dramatically.

That reads great, doesn't it? So simple to work out in your head how safe you are...but there are a lot of factors that alter that number and give you less protection. For maximum effectiveness, sunscreen should be put on 20 minutes before going outside in the sun. It also needs to be applied evenly over the whole body, reapplied regularly or when you get wet (like the pool or lake), and that the numbers are only accurate if the amount of time needed in the sun before burning begins is a constant, which is not true at this time of year!

So add sun protection early and often, and know what to do if you or someone you love starts getting a burn. A helpful sheet on sunburn can be found by clicking here.

Remember to watch your families, particularly the very young and very old, for signs of sunburn or sun poisoning, and take the proper safety steps before and after to keep yourselves safe!

The Big Bang Theory
July 2010

What are fireworks? What is a fireworks show? Why am I asking such a silly question on the eve of the fourth of July, one of our countries most lavish and revered public displays of noise and light?

Fireworks have been documented as far back as the 12th century, where they were used in China to both frighten away evil spirits and as a prayer for happiness. In America, fireworks even predated the American Independence that they have come to represent. The displays have become more scientific since then, bigger, more colorful and louder fireworks have become the norm. Within the fireworks professional communities, Pyrotechnicians have dedicated themselves to safer displays (often borne of tragedy) for these amazing ceremonies, to the point where injuries or loss of life at professional events have been largely curtailed. Disneyland, for example, started launching fireworks with compressed air a few years ago, instead of the traditional gunpowder, and found it lead to better timing and accuracy.

Fireworks in the home, however, are a different story. The average person in our country gains education about fireworks from personal experience and reading instructions on a package rather than formal education, and often entrust their judgement in this education to the use of smaller pyrotechnics when handing them off to children and friends. Herein lies the problem. Let's look this year at a very specific, very serious misuse of one particular pyrotechnic, the Sparkler.

As a consumer firework, Sparklers are one of the most common devices handed off to young children on the fourth of July. By all appearances it seems relatively benign, a stick throwing off bright lights and a shower of sparks when lit. These sparklers are responsible for some horrendous burn injuries among children however, simply because they seem so harmless. I want to go over some interesting comparisons between Sparklers and some common sense heat sources you keep children away from in the home for safeties sake, compiled by the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance.

Children and matches don't mix, everyone agrees with this. A match burns at 325 degrees Fahrenheit (we'll use Fahrenheit for all of our numbers in this article from now on), but a Sparkler burns hotter than that match. Pizzas cook in your oven at about 425-450 degrees, and we keep children from playing with or around ovens because of the burn risk, right? Guess what-Sparklers burn hotter than your oven too. Let's take a jaunt to a factory that melts glass, which is 900 degrees. Are we there yet?

Not yet. In fact, Sparklers burn hotter than temperatures needed to melt that glass, or even aluminum-which melts at 1200 degrees. If we still aren't hot enough for you, then let's give away the correct answer. A lit Sparkler burns at up to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit, four times the heat needed to cook your pizza! Yet this awesome heat is contained in a small stick being held by a little child not old enough in some cases to use the bathroom yet. It should be a little clearer now how these injuries have occurred year after year among children. Many times it's just that you haven't run the numbers in a way that you can relate to as responsible and loving adults. So now we've crunched those numbers, let's think about our kids this Fourth of July, and keep them safe.

Sparklers aren't for children with adult supervision. They're for adults only, just like an oven, or matches. Keep your children safe, and celebrate the holidays responsibly.

Big Boots to Fill!
May 2010

You may have noticed in the past few weeks that Firefighters have been plying the streets of our local communities, walking back and forth between stopped cars at lights and holding high an old boot. "Fill The Boot!" and other slogans abound at these lights.

It's not unusual to feel slightly invaded at these lights as we walk back and forth in our red vests, brochures hanging out...but Firefighters soliciting money?! What's THAT all about?

For firefighters there are few charities as near and dear to our hearts as those that deal with burn prevention and recovery. In the last week, the Norwood Park Fire Protection District firefighters had an inter-shift competition to raise money for one of these charities, the Illinois Fire Safety Alliances annual Burn Camp.

Camp I Am Me is a camp for burn survivors that's held every summer, funded in part by contributions donated to firefighters from people on the street Just Like You! This year, by raising money at intersections, the firefighters were able to raise $7,999.95 for sponsoring kids to attend camp. Take a look at the video below to see how giving just a little can make such a huge difference in a child's life. We were proud to do our best to help these kids, and we thank all of you for reaching out to us with every amount, large and small, to help fill those boots and make summer a whole lot more fun for these kids! Thank you again, for more information check out the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance's website at www.ifsa.org.

Click here to watch the Camp "I Am Me" Illinois Fire Safety Alliance Burn Camp video.

Spring Cleaning
April 2010

It's the middle of the month, and we're comfortably away from the 1st of April, enough so that we can discuss Spring Cleaning without having to, as Eduard de Dene said "Refrain on errand-day/which is the first of April".

As you can see from the picture, sometimes we accumulate things in our homes and apartments that just shouldn't be there. Although this picture was an automobile accident, it does humorously underscore the point that we tend to add a lot of things to our home that end up being in the way...clutter.

Why is clutter and mess in the home an issue for firefighters? Simply because of the potential hazards they can become. Homes with a large amount of materials have a greater fire and life safety risk. In part it's because of the nature of the materials themselves. Paper, cardboard and other materials are highly flammable, and once ignited they create a massive fuel load, allowing the fire to spread very quickly and creating more smoke and fumes. Furthermore, they create problems with moving within the building, making a person's escape and a firefighter's entry extremely difficult.

In extreme cases, even rooms that aren't on fire present a very real danger to firefighters, as materials accumulated can shift and collapse on firefighters as they are bumped or become soaked with water.
Of course, these are exceptions to the average household. Since we're talking about spring cleaning, let's take a second and dwell on our dwellings, maybe learn about a few small changes that make a big difference.

First and foremost, Daylight Saving Time has come and gone...did you change you smoke detector batteries? Make sure those detectors work and are ready to go, they are the very first line of defense in any house fire!

Second, check your house for things that might impede your quick escape. Everything looks great from where you're standing, but have a child (or a grandchild) test your house for escape worthiness. How? Have them (under your supervision so they don't get hurt) close their eyes and go from the bedroom to the front or back door. How long did it take? What got in their way and confused them? Remember that in a fire your vision will be obscured and it'll be hard to breathe-organize your home and spring clean with this in mind! If you are a little older or unable to crawl-plan for a way to call for help should the worst happen. Make sure you can open your bedroom windows to call for help and get fresh air, and keep a phone or a way to contact 911 near your bed.

Finally: Keep that house clean! Look around you and see if there's things you've "meant to clean up" or get rid of. Take a second and move them out! A cleaner, more organized house is better for you, us, the environment, AND your home.

Enjoy yourselves this spring, and keep safe!

March 14th is Great Timing for Fire Safety!

Spring is fast approaching, and snow melts faster than it accumulates. March means a lot of things to the Fire Service. The nature of the calls we respond to are a little different than they were last month, and we work on addressing different safety topics than we did when it was cold out.

One opportunity we have for making our homes safer in March is Daylight Saving Time (improperly referred to as Daylight Savings Time). For hundreds of years time was based on the position of the sun (some of the first 'timepieces' were sundials), and noon was always when the sun was at it's highest, which meant it was always a local phenomena. Although this way of determining time of day (called Apparent Solar Time) works locally, it plays havoc with travelers, who is the early days of travel would have to reset their watches sometimes more than 5 times along a thirty mile ride. In fact, the transportation industry is responsible for Daylight Saving Time as we know it (and in the U.S. it is currently regulated and changed as necessary by the Department of Transportation), and they have been since it was first instituted anywhere in the world, back in 1840 with the English railroads adoption of London time.

So how do railroad timetables and adoption of time zones help us at home? Because it gives us a reliable method of scheduling maintenance that can be performed while changing our clocks to reflect the 'new' time of day. Smoke Detectors should be checked for service monthly, but we ask that all residents replace their batteries twice a year, and we selected the Daylight Saving Time for this (this year-the date we change our clocks and Smoke Detector batteries is March 14th, by the way).

Keeping track of time and safety is easier when combined into a single task, and we ask you to also check the age of your Smoke Detectors and see how long they've been in your house. Smoke Detectors are most efficient in the first six or so years of life, and many of them have expiration dates to reflect when components are worn out and are no longer considered reliable. Time of day is different depending on your location in the world, but safety never takes time off, so take a moment on March 14th to check those detectors and change their batteries!

Auld Lang Syne
December 31, 2009

The end of the year marks all types of festivities, from the gift giving and religious holidays to the New Year's celebrations. The end of one year marks the beginning of another. Many people take time to consider the events that have happened, and think about things that are yet to be. One tradition is the New Year's resolution. People either select goals to accomplish, or bad habits to give up in the coming year.

Another tradition is the singing of Auld Lang Syne. Although those words as written may not be all that familiar to many people, the first verse is guaranteed to spark recognition. As adapted from a poem by Rabbie Burns, the first verse is "Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And auld lang syne?"

Auld lang syne translates roughly as "times gone by". The song reminds us of the importance of the good old days, and the not so good old days. As we wrap up the year 2009 in fun and festivities, let's take a look at some of our times gone by from this year, and resolve to prevent accidents in 2010.

In the business world, this is called being proactive. Your fire department works daily at being proactive at all levels in the community-whether it's child safety seat installations, condominium fire safety talks, or having our Fire Inspector check businesses for code compliance. As the New Year approaches, let's take a moment to resolve to be proactive as individuals, for the sake of our families and us. When you're in a building, take a moment to find a second exit in the event of a problem-include your workplace here. Check your smoke detectors one more time; watch traffic a little more closely at intersections. If you see someone doing something they shouldn't, whether it's under-aged drinking or playing with lighters...make the call. Anonymously or not, a quiet word to the right person can stop an accident before it happens.

We tend to recall our old times when seeing others do things. This world is not the one that we enjoyed when we were younger, however. Our having avoided an accident is no indication that someone else will. So I ask all of you to make a New Year's resolution for fire and life safety, so we can all sit back one day and talk of auld lang syne!

Stay Safe When You're In Deep
Winter 2009/10

It looks like the snow is here to stay! It seemed for the longest time that our calendar was a month fast when we wouldn't see heavy snowfall and ice until the New Year. It looks like we'll be shoveling a lot more this year. It's a good idea as we predict a fairly snow laden winter to review a little personal and family safety when it comes to removing that snow and ice from our front steps.

For those of you with snow blowers, here are a few essentials to remember, things that haven't changed a great deal since the first snow blower was introduced in 1953. Number one, and most important: Remember that this is a tool for snow removal, not a toy. It requires diligence and alertness when operating the machine, even for short periods of time. Always check around you when starting and operating your snow blower for debris which could become a flying hazard and children whom may be playing. The blades in the snow blower are not discriminatory towards children and toys; they'll cut up and throw anything they can. Also remember to turn the blower off before cleaning out clogs of snow. Follow your manufacturer's recommendations for cleaning and servicing the blower. Don't take the blower being off for granted! Releasing a plugged set of blades may cause them to suddenly start turning again. If your snow blower comes with a tool for cleaning out debris, use it following the manufacturers' recommendations!

Of course there's always the good old fashioned standby, the shovel. For the calorie conscious, a 15 minute spell is considered moderate physical activity, akin to brisk walking or dancing. This is bad news for people whom moderate physical activity or stress can be dangerous, for example-those with heart conditions. The greatest loss of life after large snowstorms is related to the physical activity and strain placed upon the hearts of people doing the shoveling. Shoveling, already a source of higher blood pressure and heart rates, can be made even more problematic if the weather is particularly cold, or you haven't dressed for the cold properly.

So what to do? If you have a history or heart related problems, don't tackle the snow head on, get help. Ask your physician if you should be shoveling the snow, and take his advice.

Be careful with the shoveling. Use a smaller shovel to lift less snow (and therefore less weight) with each scoop, and lift properly to protect your back from injury.

Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water before you begin, and avoid nicotine and caffeine. These are stimulants which will increase your heart rate and blood pressure and place extra stress on your heart.

Dress for the weather, using multiple layers to keep warm. You can always take them off if you begin to overheat.

Think of shoveling as a workout, prepare by warming up appropriately-and listen to your body! If something starts to hurt-stop shoveling immediately!

And finally, be prepared for ice, and potential slipping. Keeping your walkways clean means you and your loved ones can get to where you're going safely.

Enjoy the new year safely-one step at a time!

H1N1 - Why is H1N1 called H1N1?
November 2009

This document is available to view in PDF format. H1N1 Information

Influenza A has gone by a variety of types and names over the years, the most current so-called "swine" flu being the H1N1 virus...but where does the term H1N1 come from?

Each of the letters stands for an antigen (protein) on the virus itself, which hooks into cells in your body. The H stands for hemagglutinin (of which there are 16 basic shapes) and the N for neuraminidase (which has 9). The virus is identified by these hemagglutinin and neuraminidase combinations. A variant of the 2009 H1N1 itself was first identified around 1918.

For more information about H1N1 and Influenza, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/qa.htm. The schools within the boundaries of the Norwood Park Fire Protection District can be accessed from our Links section for up-to-date local information regarding schools and the virus.

The Bulletin Article

This document is available to view in PDF format. What I Wish People Knew About EMS, Firefighters, Dispatchers and Law Enforcement

 

 

Board of Trustees

Chief Terrence Vavra
Deputy Chief Daniel Johnson
President Robert Martell
Treasurer Leonard Romano
Secretary Andrew Skyba
Trustee Wayne Jarosz
Trustee Mark Lymperopulos
Trustee Doug Strempek



October 9th - canceled and
rescheduled to October 16th
 


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OCTOBER
3rd - Early Warning System 10am
7th - Norwood Park Fire Department
Open House 12 noon - 3:00pm
9th - Board meeting 7:30pm
14th - HeartSaver AED CPR Class
26th - Pension meeting 7pm

 


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Life-Saving Monitor-Defibrillators
Prevention Through Alertness!
Treasurer Letter To Residents

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