Chicago Fire Department

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Chicago Fire Department (CFD)
Chicago CFD Logo.png
"We're There When You Need Us"
Operational Area
Country United States
State  Illinois
City Chicago
Agency Overview
Established August 2, 1858
Annual calls 739,867 (2013)
Employees 5,143
Commissioner Jose A. Santiago
IAFF 2
Facilities & Equipment
Divisions 5
Battalions 24
Stations 98 (Including 1 Fireboat Station)
Engines 96
Trucks 61
Squads 4
Helicopters 2
Fireboats 2
Ambulances 75 ALS
HAZMAT 2
EMS Level ALS
Website
www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cfd.html
www.iaff-local2.org

The Chicago Fire Department (CFD) provides fire suppression and emergency medical services to the city of Chicago, Illinois, United States, under the jurisdiction of the Mayor of Chicago. The Chicago Fire Department is the third largest municipal fire department in the United States after the New York City Fire Department and Cal Fire, as measured by sworn personnel. It is also one of the oldest major organized fire departments in the nation.

The Chicago Fire Department is led by the Fire Commissioner, who is Jose A. Santiago. The Fire Commissioner is appointed by the Mayor. The Fire Commissioner is assisted by the First Deputy Commissioner, who is Charles Stewart III, who oversees the department's bureaus. There are four bureaus under the First Deputy Commissioner: Operations, Fire Prevention, Administrative Services & Logistics.

The Chicago Fire Department receives over 500,000 emergency calls annually.

The Chicago Fire Department cooperated with film director Ron Howard on making the 1991 film Backdraft, starring Kurt Russell, William Baldwin and Robert De Niro.

Organization[edit]

Chicago firefighters responding to a call on Michigan Ave. wearing pre-2006 turnout gear.

Bureaus[edit]

There are four Bureaus of Operation within the Chicago Fire Department: Operations, Administrative Services, Logistics and Fire Prevention. The four Bureaus are commanded by the 1st Deputy Fire Commissioner, Charles Stewart III, who in turn reports to the Fire Commissioner.

Operations[edit]

The Bureau of Operations is the largest Bureau within the Chicago Fire Department. The Bureau of Operations commands the following Divisions: Fire Suppression & Rescue, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Special Operations, and the Office of Fire Investigation (OFI). The Bureau of Operations is composed of over 4,500 Firefighters and Paramedics and is commanded by a Deputy Fire Commissioner.[1]

Administrative Services[edit]

The Bureau of Administrative Services commands the following Divisions: Personnel, Training, the Photo Unit, and the Employee Assistance Program. Administrative Services is commanded by a Deputy Fire Commissioner.[2]

Logistics[edit]

The Bureau of Logistics commands the following Divisions: Support Services, Support & Logistics(EMS), Equipment & Supply, Building & Property Management, Record, Employee Relations, Labor Relations, Staff/Human Relations, the Pension Board, the Regulatory Compliance, and Management Information Systems/Technology. The Bureau of Logistics is commanded by a Deputy Fire Commissioner.[3]

Fire Prevention[edit]

The Bureau of Fire Prevention commands the following Divisions: Code Compliance and Inspections. Fire Prevention is commanded by a Deputy Fire Commissioner.[4]

Operations[edit]

The Bureau of Operations is one of five Bureaus within the organization of the Chicago Fire Department. Like the other four Bureaus, the Bureau of Operations is commanded by a Deputy Fire Commissioner, who reports to the 1st Deputy Commissioner, who in-turn reports to the Fire Commissioner. The Bureau of Operations is currently the largest Bureau within the Chicago Fire Department and is organized into four Divisions: Fire Suppression and Rescue, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Special Operations (including the Technical Rescue Unit, the Hazardous Materials Unit, and the Air Sea Rescue Unit), and the Office of Fire Investigations. The Fire Suppression and Rescue Division is commanded by two Assistant Deputy Commissioners. The Special Operations Division and the EMS Division are each commanded by an Assistant Deputy Commissioner. The Office of Fire Investigations is under the command of the Commanding Fire Marshall, equivalent to the rank of Deputy District Chief. [5][6]

Fire Suppression and Rescue Division[edit]

The Fire Suppression and Rescue Division is divided into two sectors, Fire North and Fire South. Each sector is commanded by an Assistant Deputy Commissioner. Within the two sectors are five Fire Districts. Each sector commands two Fire Districts. One Fire District, District 3-Airport Operations, is commanded by a District Chief. The remaining four Fire Districts are commanded by a Deputy District Chief. Within the five Districts are 24 Battalions, each commanded by a Battalion Chief per shift who reports to the Deputy District Chief of the District.

Emergency Medical Services (EMS)[edit]

The Emergency Medical Services Division is also divided into two sectors, EMS North and EMS South. Each sector is commanded by an Assistant Deputy Chief Paramedic. The two Assistant Deputy Chief Paramedics are under the command of the Assistant Deputy Commissioner of the EMS Division. Within the two sectors, EMS North and EMS South, there are eight EMS Districts. Each EMS District is under the command of a Paramedic Field Chief. Each EMS District's Paramedic Field Chief is in charge of all EMS and Ambulance Operations within that District.

Special Operations[edit]

The Special Operations Division is commanded by an Assistant Deputy Commissioner and is divided into several subsections, including Hazardous Materials (Haz-Mat.) and Air Sea Rescue. The Haz-Mat. subdivision is commanded by a Deputy District Chief. The Air Sea Rescue subdivision is commanded by two Deputy District Chiefs, one in charge of SCUBA and Dive Rescue, and the other in charge of Air Rescue Operations. Within the Special Operations Division is the Special Operations Battalion. Similar to a Fire Battalion, the Special Operations Battalion is in charge of all the specialized units and companies within the Chicago Fire Department. The on-duty Special Operations Battalion Chief reports to the Assistant Deputy Commissioner of the Division, as well as the Haz-Mat., SCUBA, and Air Operations Deputy District Chiefs.

Apparatus profile (2014)[edit]

CFD 1st Battalion Chief's SUV
CFD Tower Ladder Co. 10
CFD Truck Co. 58
CFD Haz-Mat. Incident Team (H.I.T.) Unit 5-1-1

The Chicago Fire Department operates a total fire apparatus fleet of the following:[7][8]

Frontline Fire Companies[edit]

  • 96 Engine Companies
  • 50 Truck Companies (T2, T3, T4, T6, T7, T8, T9, T11, T12, T13, T15, T16, T17, T18, T19, T20, T22, T24, T25, T26, T27, T28, T29, T30, T31, T32, T33, T35, T36, T38, T40, T41, T42, T44, T45, T47, T48, T49, T50, T51, T52, T53, T55, T56, T57, T58, T59, T60, T61, T62)
  • 10 Tower Ladders (TL5, TL10, TL14, TL21, TL23, TL34, TL37, TL39, TL54, TL63)
  • 1 Aerial Tower (AT1)
  • 4 Squads (SQ1, SQ2, SQ5, SQ7)
  • 1 Fireboat (Engine 2)
  • 1 Reserve Fireboat (Engine 58)

Command units and chiefs[edit]

  • 25 Battalion Chief's Units (Battalion's 1-24, Special Operations Battalion Chief 5-1-5)
  • 8 Paramedic Field Chief's Units (1st EMS District, 2nd EMS District, 3rd EMS District, 4th EMS District, 5th EMS District, 6th EMS District, 7th EMS District, 8th EMS District)
  • 14 Deputy District Chiefs (1st District, 2nd District, 3rd District, 5th District, 6th District, Hazardous Materials, Breathing Apparatus Service, SCUBA, Communications, Medical Section, Employee Relations, Public Education, Special Events, Air Operations, Commanding Fire Marshal)
  • 8 District Chiefs (3rd District-Airport Operations, Logistics, Executive Assistant, Training, Fire Prevention, Safety, Special Projects, EMS Logistics)
  • 2 Assistant Deputy Chief Paramedics (EMS Field Division North & EMS Field Division South)
  • 4 Assistant Deputy Commissioners (Fire North, Fire South, Special Operations, EMS)
  • 4 Deputy Commissioners (Operations, Administrative Services, Fire Prevention, Logistics)
  • 1 1st Deputy Commissioner
  • 1 Commissioner

Special and support units[edit]

  • 5 Command Vans
  • 1 Major Incident Command Van
  • 2 Hazardous Materials (Haz-Mat.) Incident Team (H.I.T.) Units (5-1-1 & 5-1-2)
  • 1 Hazardous Materials (Haz-Mat.) Incident Team (H.I.T.) Support Unit (5-1-1A)
  • 1 Hazardous Materials (Haz-Mat.) Decontamination (Decon.) Unit (5-3-0)
  • 1 Hazardous Materials (Haz-Mat.) Mass Decontamination (Decon.) Unit
  • 1 Hazardous Materials (Haz-Mat.) Mobile Lab (5-1-11)
  • 1 Collapse Rescue Unit (5-2-1)
  • 1 Collapse Rescue Shoring Unit (5-2-2)
  • 1 Technical Rescue Team (T.R.T.) Unit
  • 1 Tunnel Rescue Unit
  • 1 Vacuum Unit
  • 1 Air Compressor Unit
  • 3 Jump Bag/Trash Pump Units
  • 1 Utility Unit
  • 1 Support Unit
  • 1 Box Truck
  • 1 POD Truck
  • 3 Fireground Rehabilitation (Rehab.) Units (5-7-1, 5-7-2, 5-7-3)
  • 2 Hose Wagons (6-1-1, 6-1-2)
  • 2 Dry Chemical (Chem.) Units
  • 1 High-Expansion (Hi-Ex) Foam Unit
  • 1 Bulk Foam Carrier Unit
  • 3 Breathing Apparatus Service Bottle Trucks (Central, North, South)
  • 1 Gas Detection Service Unit
  • 1 High-Rise Response Unit
  • 2 Airport Stairway Units
  • 10 Airport ARFF Crash Rescue Trucks
  • 1 Airport Mini-Pumper Unit
  • 2 Deluge Units
  • 1 Reserve Snorkel (6-6-1)
  • 2 Helicopters (6-8-1, 6-8-2)
  • 1 SCUBA Dive Team Unit (6-8-7)
  • 1 Fast Rescue Boat (6-8-8)
  • 2 Rescue Boats
  • 6 Mass Casualty Units
  • 2 Light Wagons
  • 2 Smoke Ejector Units
  • 2 Mobile Ventilation Units
  • 1 Tactical Operations Intelligence Center (2-7-0)
  • 2 Support Service Canteen Units
  • 3 Salvation Army Canteen Units

EMS units[edit]

  • 75 ALS Transport Ambulances
  • 1 EMS Mass Casualty Triage Unit
  • 1 EMS Mass Casualty Command Support Unit
  • 1 EMS Oxygen Transport Bus
  • 1 EMS Transport Bus
  • 3 EMS Logistics Supply Trucks

Fire Station Locations and Apparatus[edit]

The Chicago Fire Department is organized into 5 Districts, which command a total of 24 Battalions and a Special Operations Battalion.[9][10]

Communications[edit]

The Chicago Fire Department operates two fire alarm frequencies: Main and Englewood. Main covers the city north of the South Branch of the Chicago River and Englewood covers the city south of the South Branch of the Chicago River, the 2 EMS frequencies are mirrored in both name and boundaries. The separate designations are from when the Englewood Fire Alarm office was located at 64th & Wentworth St, and the Main Fire Alarm Office which was located on the 5th floor of Chicago City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St. Both offices merged into one location at the city's 911 Center in 1996, located at Madison and Laflin streets.

Alarm assignments[edit]

Still Alarms[edit]

A Still Alarm, is the basic structure fire response protocol of the Chicago Fire Department. The term "Still Alarm" came about upon the advent of telephones becoming more prevalent in reporting emergencies. The alarm office's register that received the signals from the actual fireboxes would remain "still" when someone reported a fire or emergency via telephone. The Still & Box is either transmitted by companies upon arrival at the scene when needed or due to multiple reports or confirmation of a fire. If there is a confirmed fire, the Still & Box Assignment may be added to the "Still" or "High-Rise Still" assignment upon request of the ranking officer on the scene. The Rapid Intervention Team (R.I.T.) Response is sent when the "Still" becomes a working fire, or upon request. The Mayday Assignment is used when firefighters operating on the scene of any emergency become lost, trapped or are discovered to be missing. Any member of the Chicago Fire Department of any rank or title operating on the scene of an emergency is authorized to call for a Mayday response if they so feel the need.

Alarm Type Alarm Level Units Assigned
Still Alarm 1st Alarm 2 Engines, 2 Trucks, 1 Battalion Chief (Still)
Full Still Alarm 1st Alarm, Working Fire *Upgrade* 1 Truck (R.I.T.), 1 Battalion Chief (R.I.T.), 1 Squad, 1 Command Van, 1 ALS Ambulance (R.I.T.), 1 Paramedic Field Chief (R.I.T.)
Full Still Alarm 1st Alarm, Working Fire in a Red "X" Building *Upgrade* 1 Truck (1 R.I.T.), 3 Battalion Chiefs (1 R.I.T., 1 Safety, 1 Special Operations), 1 Deputy District Chief, 1 Squad, 1 Command Van, 1 O.F.I. Unit, 2 ALS Ambulances (1 R.I.T.), 1 Paramedic Field Chief (R.I.T.)
Still Alarm in a High-Rise Building 1st Alarm 4 Engines, 5 Trucks (1 R.I.T.), 4 Battalion Chiefs (1 Still, 1 R.I.T., 1 Fire Attack, 1 High-Rise), 1 Squad, 1 Command Van, 2 ALS Ambulances (1 R.I.T.)
Mayday Alert 1st Alarm, Mayday Alert *Box or 2-11 Auto Upgrade* 1 Truck (R.I.T.), 1 Battalion Chief (R.I.T.), 1 Squad, 3 ALS Ambulances (1 R.I.T.), 1 Paramedic Field Chief (R.I.T.), 1 Bottle Truck, 1 Light Wagon, Collapse Rescue Team (Engine 5, Truck 2, 5-2-1)

Box Alarms[edit]

Box Alarms are the other main assignment utilized by the Chicago Fire Department. A Box Alarm is the standard protocol response for fire alarm activations in a hospital, nursing home, theater or other potentially high risk structure. If the fire is reported to have persons trapped or the Fire Alarm Office receives numerous calls for the same location, then a "Still & Box Alarm" is automatically transmitted by Fire Alarm Office.

Alarm Type Alarm Level Units Assigned
Box Alarm 1st Alarm 4 Engines, 2 Trucks, 1 Battalion Chief (Box)
Still & Box Alarm 1st Alarm, Still *Upgrade* 4 Engines, 3 Trucks (1 R.I.T.), 1 Tower Ladder, 4 Battalion Chiefs (1 Box, 1 R.I.T., 1 Safety, 1 Fire Attack), 1 Deputy District Chief, 1 Squad, 1 Command Van, 1 O.F.I. Unit, 2 ALS Ambulances (1 R.I.T.), 2 Paramedic Field Chiefs (1 R.I.T.)
Still & Box Alarm in a High-Rise Building 1st Alarm, High-Rise Still *Upgrade* 1 Engine (ALS), 3 Battalion Chiefs (1 Plans, 1 Safety), 1 Helicopter (6-8-1 or 6-8-2), EMS Plan I Assignment

Multiple Alarms[edit]

Higher-alarms for larger fires and more serious incidents are assigned as 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Alarm Assignments as upgrades of a "Still & Box", a "Box", or a "Working Fire". Each alarm level is signified by the level of alarms, followed by the number 11. The number "11" after the level of alarm is tradition of the bell and register system striking 11 blows onto the bell in the firehouse after whatever level of alarm the incident has been upgraded to followed by the box number, carried over into the modern era.

Alarm Type Alarm Level Units Assigned
2-11 Alarm 2nd Alarm *Upgrade* 4 Engines, 2 Trucks, 1 Tower Ladder, 2 Battalion Chiefs, 1 Deputy District Chief, 1 Air Mask Service Bottle Truck, Media Affairs Unit
3-11 Alarm 3rd Alarm *Upgrade* 4 Engines, 1 Deputy Fire Commissioner, 1st Deputy Fire Commissioner
4-11 Alarm 4th Alarm *Upgrade* 4 Engines, Fire Commissioner
5-11 Alarm 5th Alarm *Upgrade* 4 Engines
Special Alarm 5th Alarm and Above *Upgrade* 5 Engines, up to IC's discretion

Special Incidents[edit]

Special Incidents are incidents handled by the Chicago Fire Department that are emergencies other than fires. While a Still & Box Alarm might be used for an EL Train Derailment, a Water Rescue or a Collapse Rescue has its own assignment. Many of these Special Incident Assignments include many specialized units not ordinarily found at the scene of a fire. When these units are called into action, designated by their Shop ID Unit number (i.e., Special Unit 6-8-2 is one of the CFD's Air-Sea Rescue Helicopters), they are referred to as "Specials" and can be specially-called into action at the scene of any incident where they are needed. Thus, a 5th Alarm Fire with a Special Unit response would be called, a "5-11" and a "Special".

Alarm Type Alarm Level Units Assigned
Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) Special 1 Engine or 1 Truck, 1 Ambulance
Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) with Entrapment Special 1 Engine, 1 Truck, 1 Battalion Chief, 1 Squad, 1 Ambulance, 1 Paramedic Field Chief
Vehicle Fire Special 1 Engine
Expressway Vehicle Fire Special 2 Engines, 1 Truck, 1 Battalion Chief
Specialty Rescue Special 1 Engine, 1 Truck, 1 Battalion Chief, 1 Squad, 1 Ambulance, 1 Paramedic Field Chief
Building Collapse Special 5 Engines, 3 Trucks, 1 Tower Ladder, 3 Battalion Chiefs, 1 Deputy District Chief, 1 Squad, 1 Command Van, 1 Ambulance, 1 Paramedic Field Chief, 1 O.F.I. Unit, 1 Collapse Rescue Unit
Water Rescue Special 1 Engine, 1 Truck, 1 Battalion Chief, 1 Squad, 1 Ambulance, 1 Fireboat, 1 Helicopter, 1 SCUBA Team Unit, 1 Fast Boat

EMS plans[edit]

Because the Chicago Fire Department handles the city's Emergency Medical Services, certain large-scale incidents, such as a major vehicle accident or a building collapse will require a special EMS Response. This response is also known as a "Plan" from the CFD's EMS Division. These plans consist of EMS Units and Fire Units, depending on the incident. EMS Plans can also be assigned to fires where a large EMS presence is needed or special events, such as a marathon where injuries may arise.

Alarm Type Alarm Level Units Assigned
EMS Plan I EMS Plan 1 Engine or 1 Truck (ALS), 1 Battalion Chief, 5 Ambulances, 1 Paramedic Field Chief, 1 Assistant Deputy Chief Paramedic
EMS Plan II EMS Plan *Upgrade* 1 Deputy District Chief, 1 Command Van, 5 Ambulances, 1 Paramedic Field Chief, 1 Triage Van, Media Affairs Unit
EMS Plan III EMS Plan *Upgrade* 1 District Chief, 5 Ambulances, 1 Assistant Deputy Fire Commissioner (EMS), 1 on-call Physician

Hazardous Materials Incidents[edit]

During a Hazardous Materials (Haz-Mat.) Incident, such as a chemical spill or leak, the Chicago Fire Department assigned three specific levels of response depending on the size and magnitude of the incident. Aside from standard fire suppression equipment and Haz-Mat. equipment, the CFD also can dispatch standard fire suppression equipment whose crews have special training in hazardous materials situations and mitigation. These companies are called the Hazardous Incident Team (H.I.T.).

Alarm Type Alarm Level Units Assigned
Level I Haz-Mat. Haz-Mat. Incident 1 Engine, 1 Truck, 1 Battalion Chief, 1 Ambulance, 1 Haz-Mat. Unit
Level II Haz-Mat. Haz-Mat. Incident *Upgrade* 1 Engine (H.I.T.), 1 Truck (H.I.T.), 1 Deputy District Chief, 1 District Chief (Safety), 1 Command Vanb, 1 Paramedic Field Chief, 1 Air Mask Service Bottle Truck
Level III Haz-Mat. Haz-Mat. Incident *Upgrade* 1 Haz-Mat. Unit, 1 Deputy District Chief (Haz-Mat.)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]