In the traditional sense of the fire department, West Chicago FPD protects the people and property of West Chicago from the fury of fire. Although the fire prevention bureau does a fantastic job preventing fire and educating the public in fire prevention, fires do occasionally arise. Each shift works in “teams” each assigned a specific task, and each able to adapt for apparatus that are out of service or on another call. The “team” is able to attack and control fires very efficiently, limiting damage to property and loss of life.
West Chicago FPD has been providing Advanced Life Support Service since 1986. From this time, two full time, 24/7 ALS ambulances have been protecting West Chicago with well trained paramedics. Paramedics keep up on their skills through daily and monthly training and continued education in Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Pediatric Advanced Life Support, Basic Trauma Life Support and CPR. Two paramedics staff each ambulance and most firefighters on each engine are paramedics as well. Over the last few years an increase in population and traffic and an increase in emergency medical calls both full time fire engines have become ALS equipped with a full complement of medical equipment. In order to care for the sick or injured in the event that both ambulances are unavailable or until the arrival of another ambulance.
The fire service has taken on many roles since the first conceptions of fire departments. As the West has industrialized, many chemical and hazardous materials have become more abundant and necessary for our lives. It is when an accident occurs that we are called to action. West Chicago responds to hazardous materials incidents with the protection of life, property and the environment in mind. Many of the firefighters are trained as hazardous materials technicians, which means they have the knowledge to research, plan, and mitigate a hazardous material spill. West Chicago, with the help of MABAS Division 12, coordinate the necessary equipment and personnel of a hazardous material release.
Technical rescue means the rescue of life from a challenging entrapment. This could be the rescue from a water tower, a cave in from a trench, or rescue from a building collapse. Although this is one of the least frequent calls that fire departments receive, it is a very dangerous and important task. Firefighters involved in the department and MABAS Division 12 technical awareness team train regularly to be ready for these incidents.
Maybe you have heard of the “Jaws of Life.” Do you really know what they are? The “Jaws of Life” is actually the name of a tool made by Hurst that is in a family called “Spreaders.” West Chicago does use Hurst brand extrication equipment and tools that are carried on the engines, tower, and additional equipment is carried on rescue. The Jaws work to “spread” apart metal from metal, usually a car door from a mangled car. The jaws use hydraulic power to exert extreme force in pulling apart car doors. There are additional hydraulic extrication equipment such as “cutters” which are very strong scissors and the “ram” that pushes apart objects. These devices can also be used in industrial settings to remove victims from machinery.
Responding engine companies carry gas and air monitoring equipment to check for hazardous gasses. Over the past 10 years, the public has become more aware of carbon monoxide which is the incomplete combustion of fuels usually found in houses that use natural gas for heating, cooking, or heating water. Carbon Monoxide is a very dangerous gas and has an affinity for the blood’s hemoglobin 200 times more than oxygen. Carbon Monoxide or CO is often confused with carbon dioxide or CO2. Carbon dioxide is a normal finding in the air we breathe and is a byproduct of our respiration. We receive many calls for activated CO detectors. We check all gas using appliances, and determine if a problem exists. By all means, call 911 if you suspect a carbon monoxide emergency or your CO detector activates. When called for the smell of natural gas, we also respond with combustible gas meters that bring us to a source of natural gas or other combustible gas. We also can monitor the oxygen amount in the air, Hydrogen Sulfide and Carbon Monoxide.
The objective of the K9/Drone Search and Rescue Strike Team is to provide search and rescue K9 teams, drones, command staff, and utility terrain vehicles as a resource to local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, fire departments, and to our communities, to locate and rescue lost or missing individuals.
The team is comprised of K9s and handlers from MABAS-Illinois (IL-TF1) Illinois Urban Search and Rescue – Task Force 1 and Drone pilots from area fire departments who utilize K9 search capabilities and drones (UAS – Unmanned Aircraft Systems) to quickly and effectively locate missing persons.
We are dispatched by the RED Center.
Our members are on the following Chicagoland area Fire Departments