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)
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)
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
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.
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