This CFD photo show the memorial for 21 Chicago firefighters, including Fire Marshal James Horan, who died Dec. 22, 1910, in the Great Stockyard Fire.

Chicago Fire Department Selects QRAE Four-Gas Monitor

The department has more than 200 of the units deployed at 102 firehouses and is encouraging all firefighters to obtain level A or B technician certification.

The Chicago Fire Department has selected a four-gas confined space monitor from RAE Systems Inc. to deploy on all of its fire engines and trucks. The department has more than 200 QRAE gas detectors at 102 firehouses. The units can be deployed with up to four plug-in sensors for combustible gases (LEL), oxygen, hydrogen sulfide, and carbon monoxide, RAE announced Tuesday.

"After a family died from carbon monoxide poisoning twelve years ago, we first deployed single-gas CO sensors on every truck," said Chief Daniel O’Connell, coordinator for the department's Special Operations and Hazardous Materials. "We began investigating the use of four-gas meters two years ago, after several 911 calls where the CO monitor was not sufficient to detect the unseen threat and we had two gas explosions. We went through an evaluation process and selected the RAE Systems QRAE. The QRAE adds to the complement of RAE Systems instruments already utilized by the CFD hazmat teams, including wireless AreaRAE RDK monitors, MultiRAE Plus PIDs, ppbRAE PIDs and others."

The department is encouraging all firefighters to learn the basics of hazmat response by offering level A and B technician certifications, said Lt. Myron Kovalevich of the department's Training Academy.

"I think the interesting thing about this is that Chicago Fire discovered that a single-gas [monitor] wasn't enough. They realized four-gas monitors weren't just for hazmat. Some of their pride in this was, 'Here's something we've discovered, and we want to share the best practice,' " said Bob Durstenfeld, longtime RAE Systems corporate marketing, public relations, and investor relations director.

On Dec. 22, leaders of the department will conduct the annual memorial for the 21 Chicago firefighters, including Fire Marshal James Horan, who died Dec. 22, 1910, in what is called the Great Stockyard Fire at the Armor and Company Plant. This was the deadliest fire for Chicago Fire Department personnel in the city's history, and a wreath is laid each year at a memorial located at Exchange and Peoria to honor firefighters who died in the line of duty.

The Great Chicago Fire occurred Oct. 8, 1871, destroying buildings across a swath of the city four miles long and a half mile across, according to the department's online history.

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