Fire Department - Stations and Apparatus
The 111 shift firefighters, paramedics and officers operate out of three stations with 3 engines, 2 trucks, 3 ambulances, 1 rescue, 1 squad, and an incident command vehicle. Minimum daily staffing is 28.
Station 16 (Headquarters)
8157 Central Park Avenue
9024 Gross Point Road
Engine companies, also known as pumpers, carry hose to facilitate fire suppression and extinguishment. This is accomplished by connecting the soft suction hose from the pumper to a fire hydrant. This takes water from the water main and supplies the fire pump inside of the pumper truck. The pump builds up pressure that pushes the water through the fire hose and gives the fire stream velocity or speed in order to reach the fire.
At the rear of the apparatus is a flat space referred to as the hose bed. The hose beds on Skokie Fire Department engine companies are divided into three sections. The left and center hose beds carry 550 feet of 3-inch hose. On the left bed, a pipe or nozzle is attached. This known as a "big line" is used to attack heavy volumes of fire or for exposure building protection.
In the center bed, 100 feet of smaller 1 3/4 inch hose is attached to the 3-inch hose. Again at the end of this hose is a nozzle. The nozzle on a fire hose shapes the stream to assist in its reach. This line is usually used on smaller residential or automobile fires.
On the right side, 800 feet of large diameter five-inch hose is bedded. This hose is used to supply large volumes of water for master stream devices at major fires. Master stream devices include multiversals, deluge guns, aerial pipes and tower ladders. The 5" hose is also used for inline pumping (water relay) and quick water evolutions.
On either side of the pumper, directly behind the cab of the apparatus, are preconnected hose lines. Called "preconnects" or "crosslays" these 200-foot lines are used primarily for residential or automobile fires. They are used in conjunction with the 500 gallons of "tank water" carried on the apparatus. If the onboard water supply is insufficient the officer may elect to use a "quick water" evolution to supply the hose line before the tank water supply is depleted. A second choice may be to have the second due engine drop the first engine a "supply Line". Also carried on the engine are 30 gallons of foam concentrate for flammable liquids fires.
The primary function of an engine company is fire suppression.
Truck companies have been known by various names throughout fire service history. Hook and Ladders, Aerial Ladders, and Ladder Companies are some of the terms that are still in use today. With the invention of the steam fire engine in the late 1800's, fire companies began to be called fire engines or engine companies. It is believed that the term fire truck or truck was used to differentiate between the steam engines and the truck that brought the ladders.
Modern aerial devices range in height from 55 feet to 135 feet. There are taller ladders, some which range up to 210 feet. These though are far and few between. The easy identification of a truck company is by sight of the large ladder on top of the apparatus. This ladder called the "main" ladder is permanently affixed. Operated hydraulically, the ladder enables the truckmen to reach up to the eighth or ninth floor of a building depending on the proximity of the apparatus to the building.
Also carried on the rig is a selection of ground ladders. These ladders range in height from 14 feet to 50 feet. Ladders ranging from 40 to 50 feet are called bangor ladders. Poles referred to as tormentors assist in the raising of these heavy ladders.
In addition to ladders, truck companies carry a variety of hand tools. The most common are the fire axe, used for chopping, and the pike pole used for pulling down ceilings and sidewalls. Both tools are also used to break windows. Salvage covers are carried and draped over goods to reduce loss to property from smoke and water damage.
Often called wrecking crews by the public, members of truck companies break out windows and cut holes in roofs to relieve the fire building of toxic smoke and explosive gases. This accomplishes several goals. First, it allows fresh air into the structure. This enables better visibility for the engine company making the interior attack. With better visibility, companies conducting primary searches will be more likely to find victims for whom the fresh air has bought additional time. Secondly it channels the fire so control can be gained in a more expedient manner. Third, it prevents potentially dangerous flashovers and backdrafts.
The primary functions of a truck company are ventilation and search and rescue.
A tower ladder apparatus differs from a conventional ladder truck in that it is equipped with a basket or bucket at the tip of the ladder. The basket first used by tree trimmers in the late 1950's, was adapted to fire fighting in Chicago in 1958. In the early 1970's the basket was added to other styles of aerial devices. In the late 1970's, the basket was added to the end of the aerial ladder.
The design of this type of device gives an added margin of safety for firefighters working at heights or from the end of the aerial device. The basket enables the firefighters to work from a level surface with a bar enclosure surrounding them.
In addition to the basket, pre-piped water way runs up the underside of the ladder to supply water to the master stream device. Tower Ladder 16 is also equipped with a 1500 gallon per minute fire pump and a 200-gallon on board water tank. This enables the Tower to respond in place of an engine company on a rubbish fire. While an engine and truck company is due on all automobile fires, the Tower Ladder can actually pump water to extinguish the fire if they are the first company on the scene. The safety of the tower basket also assists in an easier removal of victims from emergency incidents.
The Squad Company is basically an Engine Company for all practical purposes. Though it carries less hose than a conventional Engine Company, the water pump and hose bed configuration are similar. Depending on the type of incident at hand, the Squad Company can undertake the duties of an Engine Company.
Additionally, the squad carries conventional "truck tools". Tasks of both vertical and horizontal ventilation can be assigned to supplement Truck Company activities.
The Squad also carries an array of specialized rescue tools. The foremost piece of equipment found on the rig is the hydraulic rescue tool known to the public as the "Jaws of Life". The "Jaws" are used to remove a vehicle from around a patient who may be trapped inside as a result of an automobile accident.
Though the Village of Skokie does not have an Underwater Rescue Team, the Squad Company carries equipment to affect a rapid rescue of victims involved in surface water incidents.
Special responses, which are a result of a hazardous materials incident, are handled with equipment carried on this vehicle. Preliminary evaluation of the incident, stoppage of minor leaks, or a rapid rescue of victims can be handled with the Haz-Mat suits and equipment on the Squad.
Other incidents such as persons trapped under a collapsed building, on high buildings, and in confined spaces can be mitigated with special rope and shoring devices that the Squad carries.
Major incidents beyond the scope the Squad's equipment are handled by Special Rescue Teams made up of members combined from fire departments on the North Shore.
Ambulances staffed with firefighter/paramedics respond to provide pre-hospital care for victims of illness and injury. With highly advanced equipment, advanced life support (ALS) treatment can begin within minutes of the paramedic's arrival on the scene and through arrival at one of four area hospitals.
Also dispatched on fire responses, paramedics can be assigned fire duties if medical care is not required at the scene.
Incident Command Vehicle
An Incident Command Vehicle can be described as an office on wheels. Driven by a Battalion Chief assigned to the 24-hour tour in charge of Fire Suppression and Rescue, the van contains the equipment needed to track the tasks and assignments of fire fighters at any emergency scene.