Friday, March 6, 2015

The Orland Fire Protection District approves hiring of nine firefighters; presents Citizens Award and receives recognition from Muscular Dystrophy Association at board meeting

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The Orland Fire Protection District approves hiring of nine firefighters; presents Citizens Award and receives recognition from Muscular Dystrophy Association at board meeting

OFPD President Jim Hickey (left) joins Engineer Robert Griffin (center) and Fire Chief Ken Brucki in accepting the Golden Boot Award for raising a record $25,000 to fight Muscular Dystrophy. (Photo courtesy OFPD)
OFPD President Jim Hickey (left) joins Engineer Robert Griffin (center) and Fire Chief Ken Brucki in accepting the Golden Boot Award for raising a record $25,000 to fight Muscular Dystrophy. (Photo courtesy OFPD)
The Orland Fire Protection District (OFPD) board of trustees voted Tuesday to approve the hiring of nine firefighters. The proposed hirings will be supervised by the OFPD Board of Fire Commissioners who will review and select candidates from the existing hiring eligibility list.
Last year, the board authorized the hiring of 10 firefighters who are scheduled to complete their one-year training on May 10th.
Fire Chief Ken Brucki said the proposed new hires will fill vacancies created by the retirement of nine veteran firefighters over the past few months. The 10 firefighters hired last year also filled vacancies created by retirements.
The board voted three to one to approve the motion by OFPD Board President Jim Hickey. Hickey, Chris Evoy and Jayne Schirmacher voted yes and Blair Rhode voted no. Trustee John Brudnak had an excused absence from the meeting.
OFPD President Jim Hickey (left)  joins Fire Chief Ken Brucki (right) to Kayla Kutinac, Heather Elledge and Zoe Spada. (Photo courtesy OFPD)
OFPD President Jim Hickey (left) joins Fire Chief Ken Brucki (right) to Kayla Kutinac, Heather Elledge and Zoe Spada. (Photo courtesy OFPD)
In other business, the OFPD Board presented the Citizens Life Saving Award, named in honor of the late Battalion Chief William Bonnar Sr., to three individuals who assisted in an emergency situation at the Palos Health & Fitness Center on Jan. 25, 2015. Recognized with the CLSA were Kayla Kutinac, Heather Elledge and Zoe Spada.
Also, the Muscular Dystrophy Association presented its Golden Boot Award to the Orland Fire Protection District and its firefighters who, MSA officials said, raised more than $25,000 this past year to fight Muscular Dystrophy, the highest amount raised in Chicagoland’s South Suburbs. The MDA raised $24 million nationwide with $1 million coming just from Illinois, officials said. During the past seven years, the OFPD has helped raise more than $77,000 to help the MDA fund research and provide programs to assist children with Muscular Dystrophy and to fund research centers around the country.
“Every year, the firefighters volunteer to raise funds to fight Muscular Dystrophy and we are very proud of them,” Hickey said.
Fundraising for the MDA has been spearheaded by the Firefighters Union 2754. Union representative and OFPD Engineer Robert Griffin accepted the Golden Boot Award from the Muscular Dystrophy Association on behalf of the Orland Fire Protection District.
“The Fire District is very proud to participate in that effort and we applaud the members of FireFighters Union 2754 and Engineer Robert Griffin who has led this effort,” Brucki said. “They have done a phenomenal job for a very worthy cause and we applaud them for their efforts.”

OFPD District honors firefighters for service and heroism

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OFPD District honors firefighters for service and heroism

Photo credit Courtesy the Orland Fire Protection District. From left, OFPD Fire Chief Ken Brucki, OFPD Trustees John Brudnak and Jayne Schirmacher, Village of Orland Park Trustee Ed Schussler, Lt. Pete Vassios, OFPD Trustee Chris Evoy, Orland Hills Mayor Kyle Hastings and OFPD Board President James P. Hickey.
Photo credit Courtesy the Orland Fire Protection District. From left, OFPD Fire Chief Ken Brucki, OFPD Trustees John Brudnak and Jayne Schirmacher, Village of Orland Park Trustee Ed Schussler, Lt. Pete Vassios, OFPD Trustee Chris Evoy, Orland Hills Mayor Kyle Hastings and OFPD Board President James P. Hickey.
The Orland Fire Protection District Tuesday awarded its highest honor to Lt. Pete Vassios for saving the life of a female victim of a home fire in Orland Park last month, and gave recognitions to 29 other firefighters.
Fire Chief Ken Brucki and the OFPD Board also celebrated the service of former Board President Jack Leddin with a permanent plaque placed in his honor on the Board Room wall.
Vassios was among firefighters who responded to a fire at the home on the 14500 block of Aspen Street in Orland Park on Saturday Sept. 13. Vassios entered the home through a back window to pull out 56-year-old Beth Tooth from the frame home which was consumed by fire and smoke.
Tooth was in cardiac arrest with no pulse and she was immediately revived by paramedics who restored breathing and a pulse. She remains in critical condition at the Loyola Burn Unit, officials said.
Battalion Chief William Bonnar described the scene saying a heavy fire was coming through the front of the home through a family room window with lots of heavy smoke, but was under control within 10 minutes of the fire call.
Bonnar and Brucki presented the Medal of Valor to Vassios for his “conspicuous bravery above and beyond the call of duty and showing extreme courage in the face of imminent danger.”
“Lt. Vassios went into the room which was filled with heavy smoke and fire and brought the victim out. She had no pulse and was not breathing. Her pulse and breathing was restored and she is at the Loyola Burn Unit where she is recovering,” Brucki said.
“Vassios risked a lot to save a lot.”
A humbled Vassios, who was accompanied by his wife, son and daughter, pointed fingers at the firefighters who filled the OFPD Board room, saying “Everyone did their jobs that day. It’s not just me. It’s everyone here.”
Brucki and the board also honored the memory of John P. “Jack” Leddin, who joined the OFPD in 1980 and was elected to the Board in 1991 serving three terms as the board’s President. Leddin died in 2004 at age 68 just before the April 2005 elections.
Orland Hills Mayor Kyle Hastings led the memorial and recognition ceremony or Leddin, noting the former firefighter was from Orland Hills.
“He was a pure gentleman and a friend,” Hastings said. Jack’s love was always the fire district. He always wore two or three radios on his belt. … He said he wore them because he had to be informed. He was a class guy and I am proud that we will remember him and his service to the community.”
OFPD Board President James P. Hickey praised Leddin saying his service was always dedicated to providing the highest quality service to the residents of our fire district.
“Leddin is a role model for everyone who aspires to fire service,” Hickey said.
The Fire District recognized four members of the Orland Police Department for their hands-on role in helping to save Tooth in response to the Aspen Street home fire, and 20 firefighters during the ceremony.
The Orland Park Police Officers are John Zorbas, Hank Schoonveld, Dave Staszak and Chris Losurdo. The OFPD Firefighters are Battalion Chief William Bonnar, Lt. William Leddin, Engineer David Nagel, Firefighter Brad Carter, Lt. Todd Schuneman, Engineer Robert Walsh, Firefighter Bob Proctor, Firefighter Matt Johnson, Firefighter candidate Justin Dublin, Firefighter Brett Buenzow, Engineer Nick Tufts, Lt. John Purtill, Engineer Rob Winkelman, Firefighter Jim Pape, Lt. Erick Johnson, Engineer Steve Rivero, Firefighter Eric Zielinski, Lt. Sean Merck, Engineer Scott Nietfeldt and Firefighter candidate Jason Postma.
Service recognitions were presented to five firefighters. Maintenance Engineer Bob LaMantia was recognized for 45 years service. Lt. Scott Olinski and Engineer Dan Scloegel were recognized for 30 years of service. And, Fighter Thomas Rafferty and Engineer Robert Walsh were recognized for 25 years of service.
end

OFPD responds to home fire

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OFPD responds to home fire

The Orland Fire Protection District responded to a house fire around 2pm Monday afternoon June 23, 2014.
Neighbors reported seeing smoke coming from the roof and called 911.
Orland Firefighters arrived and reported smoke showing and made a quick interior attack to confine the fire to the lower level. The house sustained heavy smoke damage and had burned though the first floor above the area of origin. The homeowners were not inside at the time of fire and no injuries were reported.
Approximately 30 firefighters were on the scene with the fire being struck in about 30 minutes. Orland was assisted on scene by Palos Fire and had the stations covered with several other surrounding agencies. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Photos courtesy of the Orland Fire Protection District

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Fire District puzzled by Orland Mayor’s criticism of fighting drug abuse

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Fire District puzzled by Orland Mayor’s criticism of fighting drug abuse

Orland Fire District rebuffs criticism from Orland Park Mayor McLaughlin and urges government agencies to work together to fight rising drug use

Parents and students packed an Orland Fire Protection District community-wide meeting on drug and substance abuse Tuesday July 15, 2014
Parents and students packed an Orland Fire Protection District community-wide meeting on drug and substance abuse Tuesday July 15, 2014
The Orland Fire Prevention District is puzzled and surprised that Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin would criticize the Fire District for hosting a program to raise awareness among parents about drug and substance abuse in the suburban region.

The program was held on Tuesday night (July 15) and has been hosted annually for the past four years. It was widely publicized, showcasing student role models and parents whose children and families have experienced the tragedy of drugs and substance abuse.

McLaughlin issued a press release Friday that falsely accused the Fire District of disseminating “inaccurate information” about drug use. It implies there is no heroin or substance abuse problem in Orland Park or the immediate suburbs and contradicts public statements made only four weeks earlier by Orland Park Police Chief Tim McCarthy.

“We are deeply disappointed McLaughlin would issue his criticism without even contacting us to discuss the issue, or even attending the event which was widely publicized in the media,” Orland Fire Protection District President Jim Hickey said.
Brian Kirk, The HERO Foundation
Brian Kirk, The HERO Foundation

“The mayor’s press release was filled with inaccurate and irresponsible statements. I am deeply disappointed when public officials show more concern for their public images rather than for the safety and well-being of our citizens.”

Hickey said the information disseminated at the Fire District’s public meeting was accurate and correctly defined the threat of heroin and substance abuse as serious concerns that must be addressed by an educated community.

“It would be shameful to believe public officials would bury their heads in the sand and pretend there is no drug abuse problem in our region. The data shows a frightening increase in heroin and opiate abuse in this region and it needs to be addressed,” Hickey said. “That’s the only conclusion I can make from the mayor’s actions.”

Hickey said McLaughlin overreacted to a newspaper article which may have unfairly characterized the school district as being unresponsive, but the fact is there hasn’t been a concerted effort to address the rising drug problems.

“Drug use isn’t a problem that plagues ‘bad neighborhoods’ or ‘poor communities.’ It’s a problem everywhere and responsible public officials should do everything they can to educate and inform the public. That’s what the Fire District has and will continue to do,” Hickey said.
Fire Chief Ken Brucki, Bat Chief Michael Schofield, Brian Kirk, Sandburg athlete Pat Brucki, Denver Broncos draft pick Michael Schofield, US Olympic Ice Hockey Medalist and Sandburg Graduate Kendall Coyne, Tami O'Brien, OFPD Board President Jim Hickey, OFPD Trustees Chris Evoy and Jayne Schirmacher.
Fire Chief Ken Brucki, Bat Chief Michael Schofield, Brian Kirk, Sandburg athlete Pat Brucki, Denver Broncos draft pick Michael Schofield, US Olympic Ice Hockey Medalist and Sandburg Graduate Kendall Coyne, Tami O'Brien, OFPD Board President Jim Hickey, OFPD Trustees Chris Evoy and Jayne Schirmacher.

The Fire District is more than willing to meet with Mayor McLaughlin, Police Supt. McCarthy and officials from the local schools, Hickey said, to work together and develop a unified stand against drug abuse in a more appropriate manner rather than through public criticism from officials who didn’t even attend the meeting.
Tami O'Brien
Tami O'Brien

The Fire District program was not funded by taxpayer dollars and was conducted by volunteers who included three current and former Sandburg students, Michael Schofield, who was drafted by the Denver Broncos, Olympic Ice Hockey Silver Medalist Kendall Coyne, and Patrick Brucki a current Sandburg student athlete. The three students reached out to the more than 100 parents and students who attended the two hour long seminar.

Their message was clear: “Drugs are not fun. They are dangerous. And students must resist the temptation to hang around other kinds who are using drugs.”

The meeting included the experiences of two parents whose children were involved in drugs and substance abuse, including the father of a high school senior who died of heroin use. They related how their children made the “wrong choices,” destroying their lives and their families. Tami O’Brien and Brian Kirk represented the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists (AAIM) and The Hero Foundation.

The program, cohosted by In the Blink of an Eye Foundation headed by OFPD Battalion Chief Michael Schofield, was widely publicized for six weeks. It attracted many community leaders including Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman, and Village of Orland Park Trustee Dan Calandriello.

The information reflected firsthand data as experienced by emergency medical personnel and first responders from the Fire District.
Kendall Coyne, Olympic Ice Hockey Silver Medalist
Kendall Coyne, Olympic Ice Hockey Silver Medalist

“Firefighters are oftentimes the first people at the scene of a drug or substance abuse incident. We are called to save their lives,” said Fire Chief Ken Brucki.

“Helping parents understand what is involved and what can be done can help save more lives. That’s why we continue to host this program and will host it again next year.”

Data clearly shows an alarming increase in heroin use in Orland Park, in the Fire District, and in the suburban region.

During the presentation, Brucki said he spoke about drug use among elementary school children “throughout the region,” not specifically or just in School District 135 or with respect to the local schools.

“At no time did we criticize the Village, the Police or the school districts. We noted the drug problem is growing not just in Orland Park but in neighboring suburban communities,” Brucki said.

Brucki cited an article in the local media on Friday July 18th that highlighted the success of the HELPS program started in Will County which has created "a phenomenal downturn in heroin related deaths" and which works to combine efforts from various branches of community leadership.

“We have most recently had a great relationship with the leadership of local school districts, including District 135, on education and prevention and we want that to continue,” Brucki said.

Hickey said that last month, Police Supt. McCarthy told local media that heroin use was a problem. He announced police will carry Narcan (Naxalon) in their vehicles to respond to drug abuse issues. Narcan can reverse the effects of opiate and heroin overdoses.

McCarthy’ was quoted as saying he “first noticed” an increase in heroin use in 2009, noting last year “Orland Park had 13 drug overdoses and six deaths, including five that involved heroin.” This year, McCarthy said, the department has seen eight overdoses and one death.

Hickey said McCarthy’s observations only reinforce the need to bring government officials together to address this growing problem.

Orland Park is only one community in the Orland Fire Protection District, which serves 75,000 residents in 33 square miles, including in Orland Hills and areas of unincorporated Orland Township.

The Fire District released the following incident report which shows a steady increase in heroin and opiate use since 2009. The figures do not include substance abuse incidents where Narcan was not administered.

“The incidents involved patients who displayed extreme drug seizures, were visibly unconscious, or were facing an extreme danger to life, such as experiencing a Heroin or opiate-like overdose,” Hickey said.

2009: administered Narcan 47 times, with 22 positive results.
2010: administered Narcan 49 times, with 23 positive results.
2011: administered Narcan 49 times, with 33 positive results.
2012: administered Narcan 63 times, with 32 positive results.
2013: administered Narcan 59 times, with 30 positive results.
(Photos courtesy of the Orland Fire Protection District.)

Here’s the video of the public community program:
Here is a link to a story broadcast about the meeting by WBBM TV (CBS) Tuesday night.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Orland Fire hosts community meeting on increasing Heroin use and substance abuse

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Orland Fire hosts community meeting on increasing Heroin use and substance abuse

More than 100 parents and their children attended an informational meeting hosted by the Orland Fire Protection District to address the issue of increasing heroin use and substance abuse held Tuesday (July 15, 2014) at the Fire District headquarters on 151st Street.

Speakers included students at Sandburg High school and former students who have excelled in athletics, including a recent draft to the Denver Broncos and an Olympic Silver Medalist, and parents of two young people who were involved in drug and alcohol abuse.

The meeting was led by OFPD Chief Ken Brucki and Battalion Chief Michael Schofield, and attracted support from members of the Orland Fire Protection District Board including Board President Jim Hickey, and Trustees Chris Evoy and Jayne Schirmacher. Also attending to show support for the need for heightened public awareness of the substance abuse problems locally were  government officials including  Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth "Liz" Doody Gorman and Village of Orland Park Trustee Dan Calandriello.

"I think it is very important that we come together as a community and speak about these issues because they are important to our families and our children. We don't want to pretend they don't exist and sweep them under the rug," Gorman said.

Speakers included Carl Sandburg graduates Michael Schofield who was a 3rd round draft pick to the Denver Broncos football team this year, and Olympic U.S. Hockey Team Silver Medalist Kendal Coyne. Schofield and Coyne spoke about how drug abuse could have impacted their career goals and prevented them from attaining their achievements.

Patrick Brucki, a standout athlete who currently attends Sandburg spoke about life in high school where officials said drug and substance abuse is a problem.

Two parents painfully detailed how drug and substance abuse impacted their lives. Tami O'Brien spoke about her son, a Chicago policeman who was involved in a DUI that took two lives. Tami currently works with AAIM (Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists). Brian Kirk spoke about the battle to save his son who died from heroin use.

Here's the video of the public community program:



Here is a link to a story broadcast about the meeting by WBBM TV (CBS) Tuesday night.

Click here.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Fireworks blamed on home fire Friday night

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Fireworks blamed on home fire Friday night

Fire caused by fireworks being investigated by Orland Park Police 11200 block of Poplar Creek Lane
Fire caused by fireworks being investigated by Orland Park Police 11200 block of Poplar Creek Lane
Firefighters of the Orland Fire Protection District responded to a fire call at the 11200 block of Poplar Creek Lane on Friday night at around 9 pm, minutes before official government fireworks displays were set to begin in surrounding communities in celebration of the 4th of July.

It was among several fire calls that the OFPD responded to before and after the evening celebrations.

 Neighbors noticed a fire on the roof of the home and immediately called 9-1-1. Firefighters arrived several minutes after reporting smoke and fire showing above the attached garage and cedar covered roof.

The fire was quickly extinguished by the first arriving units and was confined to the roof above the garage. Firefighters noted some smoke in the attics of the home but kept the fire from extending inside the living areas, limiting the damage. The cause of the fire was determined to be the use of fireworks by persons in the area.

The Orland Park Police Department detained a person for questioning.

“We constantly caution people about the dangers of fireworks being used by the public without professional supervision. They can injure people and they can cause fires. People watch as fireworks shoot up into the sky, and when done professionally, it is fun. But when it is done individually, the individuals forget that’s sometimes the fireworks can come back down and cause damage to property. Fortunately, this home fire, which we believe was caused by the use of fireworks, did not result in any injuries but it did cause what could have been a major fire that would have changed the lives of the people living in the home,” OFPD Chief Ken Brucki said.

“With the very large volume of amateur fireworks, we were fortunate not have any reported injuries.”

“This is another reason why we constantly urge the public to leave the fireworks to the professionals. They look beautiful when they are fired into the sky at night but no one thinks about the consequences of when the fireworks come down on property. You need professionals there to manage the fireworks and professional firefighters on standby to respond to any injuries or fires,” said OFPD Board President Jim Hickey.

Brucki said that the Orland Fire Protection District responded to other incidents of fires caused by fireworks that were in outdoor situations. 

The Orland Fire Protection District also sent fire companies to assist in fighting a fire within the Northwest Homer Fire District. Brucki said the OFPD was on alert Friday night and will continue to be on alert through the weekend monitoring continued fireworks usage by the public.

The OFPD was present to monitor the spectacular fireworks display hosted by the Village of Orland Park and also displays hosted by other governments including the Village of Orland Hills.

All of the public-monitored fireworks displays were conducted without any incidents, officials said.

END

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Orland Fire District to host meeting to help parents respond to growing Heroin threat

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Orland Fire District to host meeting to help parents respond to growing Heroin threat

FirefightersbattlefireLike many suburban communities, the Orland Fire Protection District is seeing an increase in heroin use by young people. In response, the OFPD will host a communitywide meeting with parents and their children on July 15 to discuss the problem and solutions parents can use.

OFPD officials said the purpose is not only to educate parents so they can raise awareness of the problem involving their children but to also stimulate a community-wide dialogue to help educate young people about the risks of drugs and especially heroin usage, but also other substance abuse problems including with alcohol.

Celebrities from the Orland Park area including two former Carl Sandburg Graduates who have been drafted by the NFL will join Fire District officials and representatives from the Heroin Epidemic Relief Organization foundation (HERO) and from the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists (AAIM).

“This is going to be a very important public meeting to discuss a growing problem that is spreading throughout the South Suburbs at an alarming rate,” said Orland Fire Protection District President James Hickey.

“Heroin isn’t an inner-city problem anymore. We’re seeing more and more cases and we think parents need to know how to deal with it. They can’t bury their heads in the sand.”

Speakers will include Michael Schofield, a Carl Sandburg graduate who was a 2014 3rd Round NFL Draft pick to the Denver Broncos, and Kendal Coyne, a Silver Medalist for the US Women’s Hockey Team. Also participating is Patrick Brucki, a student athlete standout at Sandburg.

“Young people tend to listen more when they have role models their age join the discussion to get young people more engaged,” said OFPD Fire Chief Ken Brucki.

“Schofield, Coyne and my son are all actively engaged in sports athletics and that’s a great connection for our young people.”

Brucki said program speakers include Brian Kirk, a founder of HERO Foundation and Tami Obrien from AAIM.

Battalion Chief Michael Schofield, who is helping to coordinate the project, said the region’s heroin problems have become epidemic.

“Our area recently has seen the reemergence of heroin — but this time around it is more pure and potent than was many years ago. Heroin is a cheap, highly addictive drug and has no clinical or medical use,” Schofield said.

“As the use of this drug increases, so does the impact in our communities. It brings devastation to families, an increase in crime (to fund the addiction), the loss of innocence, a lifelong prison of addiction and, in the most extreme cases, death.”

The program begins promptly at 6 pm on Tuesday, July 15 at the OFPD Administration building, 9790 W. 151st Street.

For more information visit the Orland Fire Protection District website at www.OrlandFire.org or visit the Facebook Page at Orland-Fire-Protection-District-IL.

END