At benefits hearing, former lieutenant testifies about blazes he and late firefighter battled
A former Buffalo Grove fire lieutenant testified Friday that he and firefighter Kevin Hauber battled two blazes where they faced overwhelming smoke and heat, but Ken Zarnecki said he was not aware if Hauber had sought medical treatment or complained of smoke inhalation afterward.
Zarnecki testified Friday in a hearing to determine whether Kim Hauber, the widow of Hauber, who died in 2018 of colon cancer at age 51, should receive health benefits from the village.
More testimony will be heard Monday.
After a long legal battle with the village, Kim Hauber is receiving full pension benefits. The village, however, contends that there is insufficient evidence to establish that Kevin Hauber's cancer resulted from a response to an emergency situation, which would entitle his family to health benefits, at the village's expense, under the Public Safety Employee Benefits Act.
Hauber's attorney, Thomas Mazur, asked Zarnecki about two fires involving Hauber: one in 1999 at a condominium building in Buffalo Grove and another one in Long Grove in which fire swept through a three-story apartment building.
On both calls, Zarnecki was Hauber's supervisor. He said they faced heavy smoke and flames.
When Mazur asked whether each call constituted an emergency, Zarnecki said yes.
He said in both cases, he and Hauber were wearing protective gear and a self-contained breathing apparatus while fighting the fires.
At one point during the Miller Lane fire, Zarnecki said, "(Kevin) pointed up to the roof edge, and all we could see was orange flames over the top of our heads." Zarnecki explained, "It's getting behind us, and that's not a place you want it to be, because we will get trapped."
Under cross examination from one of the village's attorneys, Zarnecki said that when firefighters entered a building with smoke and fire, they would put on a face mask.