Fire Department - Frequently Asked Questions

How does the strength of fire protection in the community affect property owner’s insurance policy premium?  Part of the premium is determined by the strength of the fire protection provided to the property by the Village.  The quality of fire protection for a given area is determined by an organization sponsored by the insurance industry.  This organization is known as the Insurance Services Office (ISO).  ISO grades fire protection for an area on a 1 to10 grading system (1 being the best).  The Village of Skokie has an ISO Class 1 rating.

When I call for an ambulance, why do I sometimes see an ambulance from another town?  The Village has mutual aid agreements with many neighboring towns so that calls are handled expeditiously.  During the course of a day it is not unusual for two or three calls for an ambulance to come in at the same time. If all of Skokie’s ambulances are busy, one from the next available town will be dispatched.  You may see ambulances and equipment from Niles, Morton Grove, Lincolnwood, Evanston or Wilmette. The mutual aid agreements work both ways; therefore, Skokie ambulances can be dispatched to the other municipalities.

When I see an emergency vehicle approaching while I am driving, should I always pull over to the right and stop? State law dictates that vehicles yield to emergency vehicles that are operating their emergency lights and siren. Emergency vehicle drivers are taught to pass on the left whenever possible when responding in an emergency mode. When safe, slow down, pull over to the right, and stop. However, there are circumstances where that may not be possible (if your car is already stopped, and you don't have anywhere to pull over). Simply stay put until the emergency vehicle goes around you. If you are blocking the route of the emergency vehicle, and you are able to pull ahead and over into a clear area, use your turn signal to indicate your intentions, and proceed at a safe speed. Never slam on the brakes and stop in the middle of the road when you see apparatus approaching. Make no sudden moves. If an emergency vehicle is approaching from the opposite direction, you should pull over and stop. You have no idea if they are proceeding down the road, or are planning on turning into a driveway or intersection right in front of you. You are not required to slow down or pull over for emergency vehicles that are responding in the opposite direction on a divided highway. Do not tailgate, "draft", or follow a responding apparatus closely.  Not only is this illegal, you run the risk of collision as vehicles pull back out into traffic after the emergency vehicle goes by.

When I call an ambulance, why does a fire engine also come? All members of the Skokie Fire Department are medically trained and assist the ambulance personnel with medical aid and carrying and lifting equipment.

Why do I see fire engines or ambulances go through intersections with their red lights flashing, and then turn them off? Are they just in a hurry to go somewhere?  Emergency lights and sirens are used only when responding to a call. Apparatus responding to calls are frequently canceled, or the first arriving unit determines that the call is not an emergency and tells other units to respond in a non-emergency mode, or to return to their station.

The alarm on my carbon monoxide detector just went off, what do I do? If your CO detector goes off and you feel ill, leave the house and call 9-1-1.  If you don't feel ill, push your detector's reset button.  If the alarm goes off again after a few minutes, open the windows, leave the house and call 9-1-1.

Why do firefighters break windows and cut holes in roofs when the fire is inside a building?  It may appear that by breaking windows or cutting holes in roofs cause more damage than the actual fire. However, internal building fires create a lot of heat and smoke and firefighters must remove the heat and smoke before they can get close enough to put out the fire. Heat and smoke rise, so cutting a hole in the roof and breaking out windows in planned locations force smoke to vent upwards, allowing cool air to enter the building from below. This is called “ventilation”. This also improves visibility and lowers heat conditions for the firefighters inside, allowing them to quickly and safely extinguish the fire. Heat and smoke can cause extensive damage; ventilation will actually reduce overall damage to a building and contents.

I need to take a CPR course, does the Skokie Fire Department teach courses? Yes, the Skokie Fire Department offers CPR Courses on a regular basis. If you are interested in signing up for the next class simply call 847/982-5340 and ask to be put on the CPR class list. You will be notified when the next class will be offered.

Where can I get my blood pressure checked? Blood pressure testing is done at all three Skokie Fire Stations any day of the week between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Can I schedule a fire engine presentation or station tour? Yes, contact the Fire Department at 847/982-5340 and they will be happy to assist you.

How are members of the Skokie Fire Department hired?  In order to be hired as a Skokie Firefighter/Paramedic, candidates must be between the ages of 21 and 35 years of age, have a high school diploma or GED and at least one of the following: 60 semester hours, State of Illinois Firefighter II Certification issued by OFSM or four years of active military service with an honorable discharge. Candidates must take a written examination and pass a physical ability test. These tests are offered by the Village every two years.  Successful candidates are then placed on an eligibility list.

What Do Firefighters Do When They Are Not Responding To Fire or Emergency Medical Calls?  Firefighters must train in some capacity every day. They are required to train an average of 20 hours in fire related training and three hours of emergency medical continuing education each month. Firefighters also assist the Fire Prevention Bureau with commercial fire inspections. Combined they are responsible for 3,000 inspections annually. Fire Companies assist with the in-home Fire Safety Inspections and Smoke Detector Installation Program, coordinated through the Fire Prevention Bureau. Firefighters attend and present Fire and Life Safety Programs to all Village school children, assist with state required fire drills and provide pre-arranged fire station tours. Firefighters also are responsible for cleaning and maintaining equipment and the fire stations. Occasionally, during non-emergency periods, firefighters can be seen driving around town and touring buildings to familiarize themselves with Village streets and neighborhoods as well as business districts. This has proven to save valuable time responding to actual emergencies. The rest of their time is spent reading, studying, exercising, preparing meals and sleeping. However, firefighters are trained to always be alert and prepared to answer emergency calls.