Cornbelt Volunteer FPD News
Cornbelt Fire Protection District Selects New Chief
Posted February 16, 2012 - Chad Hoffman PIO
At a special Board of Trustees meeting on February 8, Lloyd Galey officially accepted the position of Fire Chief for the Cornbelt Fire Protection District. There were over 35 applicants for the position, and Galey was one of five finalists selected. After the first round of interviews, select follow-ups were completed by individual board members in order to narrow the field. One candidate was selected at that point and successful contract negotiations were completed between the board and Lloyd Galey. "I will work hard to not only meet the current needs of the Cornbelt Fire Protection District and the surrounding community, but maintain a vision for the future," noted the incoming chief. Galey will officially start full-time at Cornbelt on April 1, 2012 after he finishes his duties with the Champaign Fire Department where he currently serves as a Lieutenant.
Galey brings decades of firefighting experience with him to Cornbelt; he has served with the Champaign Fire Department since 1990. Prior to that he served in the Air Force as a Technical Training Instructor where he initially taught Aircraft Crash/Rescue firefighting and then transitioned to Structural Firefighting and Rescue. In addition, Galey has served as a Field Staff Instructor at the Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI), an Instructor at Parkland College in their Fire Science Program, and a paramedic. He also holds dual undergraduate degrees: a Bachelor of Science in Fire Science Management from Southern Illinois University and a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Washington State University. He has achieved a number of certifications to help prepare him for the role of chief; a few of the notable certifications are Fire Officer I and II, Fire Service Management I, II, III, and IV, and Fire/Arson Investigation I, II, and III. Galey has also received numerous awards for his efforts throughout his career, including the Humanitarian Service Medal for his work during Hurricane Katrina, Firefighter of the Year for the Champaign Fire Department, and a commendation medal and achievement medals from the U.S. Air Force.
Galey has previously worked with Cornbelt Fire Department on a number of occasions as an instructor for IFSI and has helped train many of the current members. Galey commented that "Cornbelt is an outstanding organization that does a lot of things extremely well." He does not foresee big changes, and he views his role as one to support the current officers and its members. As to the future of Cornbelt, the incoming chief plans to spend more time with the committees that have been established and learn their thoughts. Based on his experiences, he knows one area where he wants to expand is officer training and development. Galey stated that "most fire departments, paid or volunteer, don't do enough to train and develop current and future leaders within their organizations." He hopes to expand firefighter education within Cornbelt, but also with other surrounding departments that would like to get involved.
Lloyd Galey lives in Tolono with his wife Diana. He has two daughters and three grandchildren that he enjoys visiting. In his spare time, he participates in triathlons and has completed two full Ironman and several half-Ironman competitions.
Firefighters recognized for their outstanding effort
Posted February 2, 2012 - Chad Hoffman PIO
The Cornbelt Fire Protection District honored a number of firefighters for their efforts and achievements in 2011 at its annual awards banquet. With the retirement of Chief Jay, many officers and firefighters assumed new responsibilities. As a result, it was an important year to recognize the efforts of many of the volunteers as the department began the transition to new leadership. The membership as a whole went above and beyond the basic requirements of the department with the following individuals receiving key awards at the annual holiday dinner.
• Eric Bonham earned the Firefighter of the Year Award. Bonham exemplified what was needed from a firefighter by setting a great example for others to follow. He has significantly grown the home safety education program by bringing in a greater number of youth organizations to the fire station for tours, spoke to a number of community groups, recruited and brought on more new members than ever before, and made a large number of day-time calls. He will be recognized at the January 30th meeting of the Mahomet Chamber of Commerce.
• Paul Mattingly was recognized for perfect meeting attendance for over 20 years, a great attitude, and outstanding work ethic as an engineer. He was instrumental in keeping the fire engine running for the truck rides at the annual open house.
• Michael Rogalla was honored for continuing efforts on long range planning, serving on truck committees, leading the honor guard, training fellow firefighters, and answering any question thrown his way.
• Dave Decker, Joe Logan, and Justin Pike were acknowledged for helping at the station in any way necessary. From hose testing to general pickup, they went the extra mile.
• John Nickell received recognition for the great example he set. He impressed by checking-in at the office a couple times each week to see what could be done for the department. From washing trucks to running errands for medical supplies, he did it all.
• John Cumbee was honored for his commitment to training his fellow firefighters, and helping with the building and grounds around the station especially the beautification of the Firefighter Pavilion with the assistance of his wife.
• Austin Moore was acknowledged for continuing to move forward by taking on new responsibilities including the Knox Box program and numerous other tasks without being asked. He is an excellent EMT, leader, and firefighter.
• Robin Stuckemeyer received recognition for her help with training, working as a team player, and serving as an ideal ambassador for Cornbelt to other surrounding communities.
• Richard Hungerford and Ken Marxmiller were recognized for their efforts and work in regards to Cornbelt's fire apparatus and equipment including extrication tools, generators, power tools, and much, much more.
• Paul Mattingly, Jared Isaac, Kelly Dillard, Dave Decker, Corey Heath, Chris Cougill, Justin Pike, Andrew Burns, and Austin Moore were thanked for their service as engineers in keeping the trucks at Cornbelt running and maintained.
• Steve Elkins, Steve Fitzsimmons, and Corey Heath received recognition for their years of service at Cornbelt. Elkins has served with Cornbelt for 30 years, and Fitzsimmons and Heath have served for 15 years each.
Chief Jay Concludes His 41 year Career at Cornbelt
Posted December 1, 2011 - Tom Pike Trustee President
Effective at the end of business Wednesday, November 30, 2011, Chief Jay concluded his 41 year career at Cornbelt Fire Protection District. The Board of Trustees agreed to buy out the remainder of Chief Jay's contract in order to move forward in the direction the Board wishes to pursue with the day to day leadership.
Probationary Firefighter Graduation Set
Posted November 23, 2011 - Chad Hoffman PIO
The Cornbelt Fire Protection District will hold a graduation ceremony for its 2011 class of probationary firefighters on November 30th at 7:00 pm. The ceremony is open to the public. The four new volunteer firefighters to be recognized are Jared Ernst, David Gandolfi, Tara Hurless, and Alex Kocher. The incoming members of the department have put in countless hours of training over the last nine months in order to graduate to full membership. Efforts included countless air pack exercises, truck checks, search and rescue efforts, ladder and hose drills, quizzes, fire extinguishment practicals, and many other efforts that have prepared them to reach full firefighter status with the Cornbelt Fire Protection District. The hard work of the new members is greatly appreciated, and community members are encouraged to attend the ceremony that will be held at the Cornbelt fire station.
Assistant Chief John Harpst Retiring after 45 Years of Service
Posted September 20, 2011
Reprinted with permission from Amelia Benner, Editor, Mahomet Citizen
John Harpst joined Cornbelt Fire Protection District on a Monday night in 1966. Only three days later, he was on his way to his first fire—a burning storefront on Main Street.
At the time, most of the volunteer firefighters were farmers, who couldn't always reach town right away. But Harpst, who worked in Mahomet, was one of the first on the scene. Bewildered, he depended on his fellow firefighters to steer him in the right direction.
"I didn't know what to do," he said, smiling as he remembered.
Harpst, now assistant fire chief, is looking back on a forty-five year career with Cornbelt. He'll retire at the end of the month, when he and his wife Jeanie plan to move to a new home in Fisher.
"That's the only reason I'm retiring," he said of the move. The fire chief in Fisher approached him about lending his years of experience to that department, an offer he's still thinking over. "I haven't said no," he said.
Cornbelt held an open house in his honor from on Sunday, Sept. 11 at the fire station.
"He's been, without question, the most dedicated firefighter and officer here," Fire Chief John Jay said, citing Harpst's wealth of knowledge and contributions to CFPD. "He's going to be missed dramatically."
Harpst moved to Mahomet in 1966 and began working at his father's drug store. Shortly thereafter he was asked to join Cornbelt.
"I said, 'Ah, I'll give it a try,'" he said, "and I've been here ever since."
At the time, there were only 18 firefighters in the department, and no formal training.
"We just more or less learned on the job," Harpst said.
When he started his firefighting career, Cornbelt "seldom had fires," he said, adding that they responded to 30 to 40 calls each year.
In contrast, he said, Cornbelt responded to over 700 calls last year. He estimated that 80 to 85 percent of these were medical calls—something that Cornbelt crews didn't deal with in 1966.
Things have changed a lot since Harpst's first fire. Now, younger firefighters ask him for guidance. He came up through the ranks, serving as lieutenant and then captain before being appointed to his current role by the Cornbelt board of trustees.
Meanwhile, he served Cornbelt in a variety of different ways—everything from taking sole responsibility for truck maintenance to coordinating the use of fire trucks in local parades to polishing the fire station floor before open house events. He's been on every one of the committees that selected the trucks currently owned by the department, with the exception of the chief's truck.
He has also been honored as Firefighter of the Year.
Jay pointed out that Harpst has responded to more calls per year than any other firefighter, in each year he's been with Cornbelt—except two. In one of those years, Jay said, Harpst broke his leg. In the other year, he took a rare vacation.
Harpst had a 30-year career as a custodian for the Mahomet-Seymour school district, a role that allowed him to serve as a liaison between Cornbelt and local schools. He retired from the district eight years ago and now spends most of his mornings at the fire station.
Determination, he said, is the key to being a good firefighter.
"You've got to have the will to do it, and the will to cope with the problems we've seen and solved," he said.
He said that some of the crises that firefighters face at accident scenes or on other calls "can tear you down pretty fast and for a long time," and encourages his fellow rescue personnel to talk about calls that affect them deeply.
One of the biggest transitions he had to make during his career was becoming an officer, taking on the responsibility for his crew. He recalled one incident where a fellow firefighter collapsed suddenly at a fire scene, meaning that Harpst had to coordinate emergency medical care as well as fight the fire. Although CPR was administered and the firefighter recovered, those harrowing moments "haunted me for a long, long time," Harpst said.
When they first arrive at a fire scene, Harpst said, firefighters immediately determine if anyone is in the building. Next Harpst uses an infrared camera to figure out where the fire's location and size. Cornbelt purchased its first infrared camera 15 years ago, and Harpst calls the technology a "godsend." In the old days, before that technology was available, firefighters often had to tear down walls to find hot spots.
"That's one of the things that has been really helpful," he said.
He's seen other changes in Mahomet itself, as the community has grown over the past four decades.
"When I started, everybody knew everybody in town," he said. Calls didn't come in with street addresses—locations were identified by the name of the homeowner.
Since then, the 95 square miles served by Cornbelt have filled with new subdivisions and many more residents—and, accordingly, many more calls for the over 50 Cornbelt firefighters.
So what's kept him going all these years, even after retiring from his "day job"?
"I just had to have something to do once I retired," he said. He credits firefighting with keeping him healthy and active. "It keeps me going," he said.
After his move to Fisher, he'll have more time to attend his grandchildren's sporting events, and he's looking forward to the change. But he said he'll miss working for Cornbelt, and the friends he's made over the past forty-five years.
"The people here are really, really close people," he said. "That's one thing I'm going to miss."
He's proud of the fire department he helped shape.
"We have one of the best volunteer departments in the state of Illinois," he said. "We're there for the people when they need us."
Cornbelt firefighter Chris "Critter" Cougill wins award
Posted August 1, 2011 - Chad Hoffman PIO
At the Illinois State police annual awards, The Director's Award of Distinction was presented to Ms. Cynthia M. Gates and Mr. Christopher D. Cougill, both of Mahomet. On the night of November 23, 2009 between Lincoln and Neil
streets on I-74, Ms. Gates had crested a railroad overpass when she observed a vehicle roll slowly to a stop at the edge of a busy interstate median wall. After parking on the inside of the road, she ran to the crash site and
signaled to passing vehicles to call 911. After assessing the condition of the occupants, she determined the most critical person was in the back of the vehicle. Mr. Cougill, an off-duty volunteer firefighter, arrived and
together they extricated a panicked occupant from the front seat. Ms. Gates provided one handed chest compressions to the critical victim, but was unable to provide breaths due to the confined area. As firefighters worked to
remove the roof of the vehicle, Ms. Gates and Mr. Cougill continued to provide medical assistance until paramedics arrived. Mr. Cougill then drove the ambulance to the hospital while the paramedics continued medical treatment.