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Friday, November 21, 2014
Decision date for North Riverside looms; Judge could rule to terminate firefighters’ contract Dec. 18    view comments tweat me share on facebook
It's not just the future of the North Riverside Firefighters Union Local 2714 that could be at stake when both sides meet again in court on Dec. 18. It could be the future of public employee unions, period. The village of North Riverside contends that its responsibility to honor the union contract ended when the village declared it to be at an impasse with the firefighters union in September. That's when the village filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court, asking a judge to declare the contract, which expired on April 30, null and void in order to allow North Riverside to hire Paramedic Services of Illinois (PSI), a private company, to take over firefighting services for the village. The company has provided the village with paramedic services for almost 30 years. On Dec. 18, Judge Diane Larsen is expected to make a ruling with respect to the village's contention that the contract is terminated. How she will rule is the wild card. "She may rule or she may take it under advisement," said J. Dale Berry, the local counsel for the firefighters' union. "But we'll get to the merit of the claims." If Larsen does rule in favor of the village, it could have a monumental effect on how labor contracts with municipalities are interpreted. Language in contracts for police officers and firefighters include no strike, no lockout provisions to allow negotiations and arbitration to occur after contracts expire without putting public safety at risk. North Riverside itself has clung to that interpretation in the past. The most recent firefighters' contract was approved more than two years after the previous deal expired. "It's an attractive solution for people looking for easy answers," Berry said of the village's belief that it can unilaterally walk away from contract negotiations by citing an impasse.
Riverside Brookfield Landmark

Firefighter staffing issue flares in Capitol    view comments tweat me share on facebook
Mayors from across Illinois say a proposal moving through the General Assembly could take controlling the cost of running local fire departments out of their hands. Legislation approved in the House in April would make fire department staffing levels subject to collective bargaining and, if an impasse is reached during contract talks, an outside arbitrator would get the final say in a resolution. That, say mayors, would strip local officials of the power to negotiate contracts based on what cities can afford. "It's going to end up costing us money," said Taylorville Mayor Greg Brotherton. "It makes no sense at all." Firefighter union officials and senators who support the change said the mayors have it wrong. Pat Devaney, president of the Affiliated Fire Fighters of Illinois union, said the proposal clarifies existing law and will save cities from having to pay legal costs if their labor negotiations end up in court. "I think everybody's got to take a breath here," added state Sen. John Mulroe, D-Chicago, who is sponsoring the legislation. "This bill is going to save everybody money." The measure advanced through a Senate committee Wednesday by a 9-2 margin and is poised for a vote in the full chamber as the Legislature meets in its annual fall veto session. A number of senators said the issue has become divisive in their districts. "I've had a lot of calls from both sides of this issue," said state Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville. At a news conference at the Capitol Wednesday, Decatur Mayor Mike McElroy worried that the law would have a trickle-down effect on other labor union negotiations representing police and public works employees.
Bloomington-Normal Pantagraph

Couple in Midway crash thank Chicago firefighters for going ’above and beyond their job’    view comments tweat me share on facebook
A wedding album. Cookbooks. A favorite baking pan. The elderly couple who survived a plane crashing into their home near Midway Airport say they are "forever grateful" to the firefighters who not only came to their aid this week but went out of their way to save pieces of their lives that were dear to them. "They knew it meant so much to us," said Amy Rolinskas, the granddaughter of Raymond and Roberta Rolinskas, who are in their 80s. "We will never forget how wonderful and outstanding they all were." The couple were asleep in their brick home in the 6500 block of South Knox Avenue when a twin-engine cargo plane plowed into their living room shortly after taking off from Midway about 2:45 a.m. Tuesday. The pilot was killed, but the plane missed the couple's bedroom by inches and they were not injured. "First and foremost, my grandparents ... are alive and safe. They are doing as well as can be expected after surviving a plane crashing into their house and losing a home that they have been in for more than 55 years," Rolinskas told the Tribune. "We are forever grateful for every single Chicago firefighter that was there Tuesday," she added. "They all went above and beyond their job and showed us such amazing compassion. Besides doing their job in such extreme cold weather, they helped us by saving my grandmother's cookbooks, her favorite baking pan and my grandparents' wedding album because they knew it meant so much to us."
Chicago Tribune

Bloomington will look internally for fire chief replacement    view comments tweat me share on facebook
The city of Bloomington will turn to an internal candidate to replace former Fire Chief Mike Kimmerling. The city notified the fire department Thursday that recruitment for the new chief will be only from within the department, said city spokeswoman Nora Dukowitz. Kimmerling, 50, retired Nov. 11 after a 27-year career with the fire department, which included five years as chief. His wife, Beth, stepped down Nov. 14 as McLean County coroner. They plan to move to Gulf Shores, Ala. Deputy Chief Les Siron is serving as interim fire chief. "Definition of 'viable applicants' will include only current city of Bloomington Fire Department employees who meet all 'key qualifications' as listed," according to a posting of the job...A bachelor's degree and a minimum of 10 years of "progressively responsible" experience in two or more of the functional areas of a fire department such as fire prevention, fire suppression, training, hazardous material incident operations, emergency medical services or administration are required. Applicants must be able to achieve state of Illinois chief fire officer certification within two years of appointment. Residency within the city is preferred.
Bloomington-Normal Pantagraph

Hinsdale firefighters launch CPR training company in honor of Deputy Chief Mark Johnson    view comments tweat me share on facebook
Firefighter Steve Tullis and Lieutenant Mike Neville are teaming up to start a new business, which provides CPR certification, AED, and First Aid training courses, called “Mark” in honor of Hinsdale Deputy Fire Chief Mark Johnson, who died in the line of duty on September 20, 2010. “We wanted to turn a negative experience into a more positive one, “ stated Tullis. “If we can teach a few life-saving skills to as many people as we can, then maybe we can keep Chief Johnson’s spirit alive for a while.” Deputy Johnson is honored both at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg, MD, and the Fallen Firefighter’s Memorial in Springfield, IL. Members of the Hinsdale Fire Department hold a charity softball event, called Big’s Bare knuckle Tournament, every year to help raise money for local charities in honor of Deputy Chief Johnson and his family. Over the last four years, the softball event has raised over $40,000. This new company, Mark, is just another way to continue Deputy Chief Johnson’s legacy of helping people and saving lives. Both Tullis and Neville are certified CPR Instructors through the American Heart Association and licensed Paramedics in the state of Illinois.
Western Springs

Four Injured In Cooking Accident At State Street Macy’s in Chicago    view comments tweat me share on facebook
Four Macy’s employees were taken to hospitals after an aerosol can overheated and ruptured during an employee breakfast at the State Street store Friday morning. Shortly before the store opened at 10 a.m., the Fire Department sent five ambulances to Macy’s at 111 N. State St., for a cooking accident in a kitchen area on the pedway level of the store. The Fire Department said an aerosol can overheated and ruptured, creating a flash fire that extinguished itself. Four people were transported to hospitals with injuries. One woman suffered serious facial burns. The other three employees suffered only minor burns. “One of them had some burns to the face, which I can’t get into at this point, but that person was transported to [John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County] in serious condition,” said Field Chief Paramedic Elliott Velez.
CBS Chicago

Thursday, November 20, 2014
4 critical after carbon monoxide poisoning in Chicago   view comments tweat me share on facebook
Four people exposed to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide are listed in critical condition at Chicago hospitals after they were found unconscious inside a Far South Side home. The Chicago Fire Department said paramedics responded to a home in the 300-block of West 107th Street in the city's Roseland neighborhood just before 8 p.m. Wednesday. When crews entered the single-family home, they found four adults passed out on the living room floor. A relative said a 79-year-old man was inside with his two adult daughters and 23-year-old granddaughter. The husband of one of the women left the home, reportedly to go to the store. He then got a call from his wife inside the home, who said people were passing out and she didn't know why. "I just saw them bringing bodies out of the house. Somebody had the top, somebody had the feet. They were just laying them on the ground," said Coaudette Stephen, a neighbor. All four victims were taken in critical condition to Little Company of Mary, Roseland and Metro South hospitals. Firefighters took carbon monoxide readings and found the home contained 1,000 parts per million, a highly toxic level. They said 20-30 minutes of exposure to carbon monoxide at that level is lethal.
WLS-TV ABC 7 Chicago

Carol Stream fire commissioners recommend firing battalion chief   view comments tweat me share on facebook
The Carol Stream Fire Protection District's board of commissioners on Wednesday recommended terminating Battalion Chief Joseph Gilles, who faced charges of misconduct. Commissioners found that Gilles' misconduct is a "substantial shortcoming" that makes his continued employment in the district "in some way detrimental to the discipline and efficiency of the department and fire service," according to a statement read by the board's attorney. Although the commissioners recommended firing Gilles, the district's board of trustees still must vote on the matter. The commissioners' recommendation comes after a monthslong disciplinary hearing for the battalion chief, which centered on Fire Chief Richard Kolomay's allegations that Gilles failed to follow orders to sign a performance improvement plan, known as a PIP. By not signing the plan, Gilles violated four rules of conduct, according to the allegations. The plan outlined core issues with Gilles, including that he does not have the proper management and leadership skills, and also lists seven goals for him. During the disciplinary hearing, Gilles' attorneys argued that Gilles was never actually ordered to sign the plan, and that even if he was, that order would have been unlawful.
Illinois Daily Herald

Downstate mayors and fire chiefs oppose mandatory firefighter staffing bill   view comments tweat me share on facebook
The mayors of Taylorville, Jacksonville and Decatur and the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association spoke out in opposition to Illinois House Bill 5485 in Springfield on Wednesday. The legislation would have the state set the minimum staffing requirements for municipal fire departments. Quincy Fire Chief Joe Henning doesn't support the legislation. "I fully believe that a fire chief should have the ability to work with City administration to determine staffing levels for a fire department," Henning said. "There are many factors that go into determining service levels. It is the job of the fire chief to share those factors with those that control the dollars to determine how best to staff a department. I am not in favor of leaving a decision such as this up to an arbitrator. This position is consistent with that of the Illinois FIre Chief's Association, an organization I am a member of." Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore also opposes the bill. "This law would require minimum manning to be mandatory in collective bargaining," Moore said. "This means that if the union and administration of a city did not agree to a manning level, that an unelected person, from outside of the city, would determine the staffing level for a city’s fire department. The results could be disastrous, it could lead to a higher head count than a city could afford, thus either raising taxes or gutting other services and capital spending. Citizens elect their mayors and council members to weigh the needs of the community versus what the community can afford. The people of that city should determine if their elected officials are adequately meeting their needs, not an arbitrator with no skin in the game. I continue to urge our representatives in Springfield to oppose this measure."
Quincy Journal

Man found dead after Bloomington apartment fire; Under investigation   view comments tweat me share on facebook
Firefighters are continuing their investigation Thursday into what caused a fatal fire Wednesday morning at an apartment building in Bloomington. McLean County Coroner Kathleen Davis said a man was found dead inside the apartment, adding, "He was reportedly the only individual in the dwelling at the time of the fire." An autopy on the man, whose identity will not be disclosed until next of kin are notified, is scheduled for Thursday, said Davis. Bloomington Fire Department Battalion Chief Eric West said firefighters who were called about 11:30 a.m. to 308 Robinhood Lane found flames and heavy smoke coming from the second floor of a three-story apartment building. The windows were blown out of the front and back of the building. The victim was found unresponsive in the apartment and was removed from the building. He did not respond to lifesaving efforts,said interim Fire Chief Les Siron.
Bloomington-Normal Pantagraph

Mt. Prospect’s Union Head Calls For Fire Dept. Rehires   view comments tweat me share on facebook
Mt. Prospect Firefighters Union Local 4119 President Dale Steward has called for village trustees to re-hire six firefighters whose jobs were eliminated in 2011 due to village budget cuts. Trustees cut nearly 30 positions throughout village government effective Jan. 1, 2011 including six in the fire department. The result was Fire Engine 13, stationed in the downtown fire headquarters, was taken out of operation due to a lack of manpower. The fire department lost two workers multiplied by three shifts equating to the loss of six firefighters. Steward asked that the positions be reinstated in 2015. His comments were made at the village board’s committee of the whole meeting Tuesday, Nov. 11 in village hall. Fire Chief John Malcolm said prior to the job cuts, two firefighters manned the tower ladder and three on Engine 13 per 24-hour shift. Now, there are just three on the tower per shift. The department employs 66 full-time sworn firefighters. Before the cuts, the number was 72. To fully staff the Engine 13, village trustees would need to approve nine new firefighters -- three for manning the engine over three 24-hour shifts, which would bring total personnel to 75. Steward, also a Mt. Prospect resident, stated he has most of the trustees on record stating this core service would be the first to be restored to previous levels.
Journal & Topics Newspapers Online

Firefighters respond to fire in rural McDonough County   view comments tweat me share on facebook
Macomb firefighters say crews responded to a four-alarm fire Wednesday night in rural McDonough County. Firefighters were on the scene of a garage fire at 15440 E. 1400 County Road. Good Hope firefighters say that four fire departments responded because the incident was in a rural area that didn't have any fire hydrants and crews needed extra water. Macomb firefighters say luckily the fire didn't spread to a nearby house. "In the beginning there was. There was a lot of embers from the high wind. It did catch this tree on fire here, but we were able to spray enough water on the house to keep it from catching on fire," Ed Arnold of the Good Hope Fire Department said. Fire officials say the garage is a total loss. Arnold says the fire may have started from the furnace but officials are continuing to investigate.
WGEM-TV Quincy

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