The Champaign Fire Department is made up of Engine Companies, Squads and Ladder Companies, along with Battalion shift commanders, all of whom answer to the Deputy Chief of Operations and the Fire Chief.
Companies respond on structure fires, nuisance blazes, automobile accidents, gas leaks, explosions, hazardous materials incidents and life threatening emergency medical calls. Why Medical? Well, if there’s a report of a heart attack, chest pains, a stabbing or shooting, Champaign Firefighters are trained and certified as EMT’s, can respond quickly to initiate patient care.
As an example, let's consider a scenario in which a resident has suffered a Heart Attack somewhere in the city. As part of a multi-tiered response, the nearest Engine company is dispatched because each company carries an Automatic Defibrilator (AED), which is essential when dealing with cardiac patients. In a few minutes time, the nearest engine can be on scene, and perhaps restore the patient's heart rhythm, before Paramedics arrive on scene.
And now for Citizen Firefighting 101 -- and there will be a test!
The Engine Company
The Engine Company is the heart of the firefighting operation. Why? Well, as old school firefighters would say, they put the wet stuff on the red stuff. Each engine is fitted with a large volume pump, water tank, foam, various sizes and lengths of hose and nozzles. Upon arriving at a fire, the engine company members secure a water supply (hydrant) – then prepare to make entry into the fire building to extinguish the blaze
The Ladder Company
The Ladder Truck serves as the base for the aerial ladder, and carries a full compliment of Ground Ladders. Onboard is a myriad of hand and power tools, which allow the crew to make quick entry into a burning structure. There’s also power saws, chain saws, portable lighting equipment, generators, and ventilation fans, just to name a few.
The Engine and Ladder Companies work as a Team
When they arrive at the blaze, The Ladder Company’s crew has a much different mission than the Engine crew. Members assigned to the Ladder are responsible for making entry into the building, conducting a search for victims, placing ladders against the building, venting the structure and finally overhaul – the search for hidden fire in walls, roofs and voids.
In order to be effective, the hoseline attack by the engine company must be coordinated with the ventilation effort by the ladder company’s crew. That means that both units – each with very specific jobs -- need to be on the scene together in order to conduct asafe and proper fire attack.
With the closure of Engine 154, there will be no Engine for the West Central portion of the City. This means that team is no longer and a safe and proper fire attack is impossible. In addition, portions of NW Champaign, SW Champaign, and South Champaign, will have to wait longer for enough firefighters and equipment to arrive on scene to effectively battle a fire and rescue victims.
NFPA-What they say!
The Champaign Fire Department subscribes to standards and recommendations set by the National Fire Protection Association, a non-governmental watchdog agency, which monitors firefighting in the United States. One very important standard, NFPA 1710, deals with the operation of a career fire department, like Champaign's. 1710 describes "arrival time" as the moment when "4 firefighters have assembled...with the capability of flowing 400 gallons of water per minute." Arrival times will now be delayed significantly in West Champaign!.