Weather Updates

Fire Department’s new column here to help

AurorFire Department's Ladder truck #11 Saturday Nov. 12 2011. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Medi

Aurora Fire Department's Ladder truck #11 on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media

storyidforme: 46610667
tmspicid: 7989853
fileheaderid: 3590689
Article Extras
Story Image

Updated: September 17, 2013 2:24PM

Editor’s note: Today The Beacon-News begins a new partnership with the Aurora Fire Department. Here is the first in a series of columns.

It is 2 a.m. while you and your family are safely at home asleep in your second-floor bedroom when a piercing alarm suddenly awakens you and your wife. Startled and confused, you try to make sense of what is going on when you smell smoke!

Realizing that the alarm is the smoke detector, you scramble out of bed and hurry to your daughter’s bedroom across the hall as your wife, Katie, goes to your son’s room. You find Abby who just turned four, curled up on the floor crying and scared because of the unfamiliar events that are unfolding around her. Quickly grabbing her as the smoke thickens and begins to bank down, you have no choice but to crawl. Almost falling down the stairs with Abby in your arms through the dense smoke and building heat, you notice an eerie orange glow coming from the back family room.

Your wife, however, is not as lucky at finding your 6-year-old son John. He is no where to be found. The burning sensation to Katie’s eyes is blinding and the smoke is choking, giving her no option but to retreat back to your son’s room and shut the door.

Now outside, you frantically run over to the neighbors and alert them of the situation to which they call 911. Your mind races as you do not see Katie or John. Abby tugs on your leg as she calls out for Ranger, the family dog. Minutes seem like hours as you wait for the fire department to arrive. Hearing the faint sirens in the distance, you begin to fear the worst for your wife and son. As the fire grows in intensity, the windows break out the first floor windows. The overwhelming urge to re-enter your home to search for Katie and John sends you into a panic stricken state that only increases with each passing second. Finally, after which seems like a decade, the fire department shows up.

As the firefighters go to work extinguishing the blaze, you see your wife safely being escorted down a ladder while John mysteriously shows up at your side. Ranger is safe as well. Now you focus your attention on the actions of the firefighters as they break windows, force open doors and cut a hole in your roof.

With the fire extinguished and your family safe, you now have many unanswered questions racing through your head. How did the fire start? Where were John and Ranger? Why did an ambulance show up first? Why did the firefighters have to cut holes, break out windows and force open doors? Where are we going to stay tonight? The list goes on and on.

My name is Lt. Jim Rhodes of the Aurora Fire Department and a proud member of Aurora Firefighters Local 99. I am assigned to Engine 10 on the west side and head up Local 99’s Public Relations Committee along with six other firefighters. Let me be the first to introduce ourselves and thank you for your continued support of the Aurora Fire Department. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, we are honored to protect and serve the citizens of the second largest city in the state.

This will be the first of many articles that we will be providing to you and your family to help you better understand your fire department, and along the way, present you with vital information, some which may be life saving.

This idea was taken from Police Commander Kristen Ziman of the Aurora Police Department, and we hope the information will be just as informative and beneficial to you as her outstanding columns have been.

Most people’s understanding of the fire service in general is what they have received from the news, TV or movies. We would like to separate fact from fiction and help educate you by answering your questions and hearing your concerns.

If you have any questions for our committee, contact us at Also, please “Like” us on Facebook. We look forward to hearing from you.

Lt. Jim Rhodes is assigned to Aurora Fire Department Engine 10 on the West Side and heads up Local 99’s Public Relations Committee. Firefighter and paramedic Dan Bateman contributed to this article.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.