Archive for October 9th, 2014

Chicago firefighters to receive back pay

PoliticsEarly&Often has an article about the back pay coming to Chicago firefighters from the new contract:

Retroactive paychecks with a $45 million pricetag for Chicago taxpayers were mailed Friday to 4,645 firefighters and paramedics—12 days earlier than required under their newly-ratified contract.

The age-old promise that, “The check is in mail,” literally came true, more than two years after the old contract expired. Back pay was due in firefighters’ hands within 75 days after the City Council ratified the new contract. The retroactive payment totals “between $40 million and $45 million” and includes “salary, overtime pay, special pay and pension payments” since June 30, 2012, when the old contract expired.

Top mayoral aides said no short or long-term borrowing was required to cover the retroactive pay raises and other payments. That’s because Mayor Rahm Emanuel reserved funds in his 2013 budget to cover the “anticipated retroactive amount.”

“It’ll be some mix of current cash and, if there is any borrowing, it will be short-term borrowing only paid for over the life of the contract, which expires in 2017,” Holt said last month.

“If you look at AFSCME and fire and the other contracts, we’re paying for it under current cash. The amount you’re talking about here is quite significant. To the extent possible — without impacting services people rely on — that’s what we do. To the extent we can’t, there would be some mix. We need to balance the need to pay retro [and] maintain services. We’ll see. We have to see what the final numbers are, but [the mayor’s] orders are quite clear.”

The new, five-year contract calls for Chicago firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians to get an 11-percent pay raise over five years, but ends free health care for those who retire between the ages of 55 and 65. After Dec. 31, those retirees will be forced to contribute 2 percent of their annuities toward the cost of their health insurance until they’re eligible for Medicare.

All 15 of Chicago’s basic-life-support ambulances will be converted to advanced-life-support, giving Chicago 75 ambulances capable of administering the most sophisticated level of care.

The 11-percent pay raise is only a “floor.” If the Illinois General Assembly mandates a pension contribution higher than the current 9.12 percent, the Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2 can negotiate an even bigger pay raise.

The pre-Medicare fee for retiree health care was one of the only givebacks Emanuel was able to wring out of Local 2.

The mayor came up empty on his laundry list that took aim at treasured union perks such as holiday and duty-availability pay; clothing allowance; pay grades; premium pay; non-duty lay-up coverage; the physical fitness incentive; and the 7-percent premium paid to cross-trained firefighter-paramedics. Nor did the union agree to Emanuel’s plan to have “double houses” — stations with both engines and trucks — to be staffed by nine firefighters instead of 10.

Instead, Emanuel settled for what City Hall sources have called a “vanilla” agreement in hopes of creating a “collaborative atmosphere” that will set the stage to solve the city’s pension crisis. In 2016, Chicago is required by state law to make a $550 million contribution to stabilize police and fire pension funds that now have assets to cover just 30 percent and 24 percent of their respective liabilities.

thanks Dan

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CFD Captain receives award for heroism has an article about

It takes a lot to get Mauricio Rodriguez to take any credit for pulling three people to safety during an Englewood fire in January.

Minutes after receiving the 2014 Carter Harrison Award for his heroics at City Hall on Tuesday, the captain and emergency medical technician struggled with the right words to describe his valor, repeatedly giving credit where he felt it was due — his fellow members of Engine Co. 116.

“It’s something I have trouble getting a grasp around because we teach all the time that every individual on the fire scene has a responsibility and nobody is less important than anyone else. Everybody is able to do their job if every member of that team does their job,” said Rodriguez, who has been a firefighter for 28 years.

“It was cold. We were coming back from getting fuel for our rig when we got dispatched to a fire. That was part of the reason we were able to arrive so quickly,” Rodriguez said, reliving the Jan. 18 fire in a two-story building the 6400 block of South Marshfield Avenue, just four blocks from the firehouse.

At the fire scene, Rodriguez heard the faint sounds of someone calling for help.

“We pulled up on the scene like I always do as a company officer tried to find a way we could lead a line [hose] in. I had guys behind me with the line and I happened to hear a muffled cough,” Rodriguez said.

“I actually thought it was another fireman coming from the back so I called out, I said, ‘Are you calling me?’ [I] didn’t hear anything but a muffled cough again. I went back there to investigate and that’s where I saw the two victims,” he said.

He fought flames and choked down smoke in his pursuit before finally locating the two unconscious men and a third semi-conscious man, officials said.

He brought the first man out of the inferno before returning in zero visibility to help bring out the others safely, officials said.

“As I was bringing them out, two members of Squad Five were coming up the back stairs and they helped get the victims out,” he said.

“Everybody who was on the scene that day, every company that was there, there wasn’t a guy from the chief on down that wouldn’t have done the same thing,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said he couldn’t describe what was going through his head, just that he was working on “automatic.”

“It felt good. It felt good but there’s been so many situations where I’ve seen so many different firemen do so many good things,” Rodriguez said. “You don’t really dwell on one individual.”

Rodriguez, a father of three from the Northwest Side, said he hasn’t talked to his children much about the incident and it hasn’t raised him to hero status in his kids’ eyes.

“It’s not something that we dwell on. It’s just something I’ve been doing my whole career and it’s what they’re used to,” he said.

“It’s just dad. I’m dad,” he said.

thanks Dan

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Prospect Heights Fire District Open House


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