Archive for May 2nd, 2018

Orland Fire Protection District news

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Orland Park police said a juvenile was charged with aggravated arson after allegedly starting a fire shortly after 5:30 p.m. Sunday inside the Old Navy store at Orland Park Place shopping center. About 50 customers and 13 store employees were evacuated without injury after the fire began on a merchandise display wall near the rear of the store.

Security camera video showed someone lighting the display on fire and an Orland Park police officer recalled seeing someone fitting the description standing outside the store watching. The suspect was apprehended a few blocks away.

thanks Keith

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Chicago Fire Department news

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The female Chicago Fire Department paramedic had allegedly been fending off lewd comments and sexual advances from a superior for weeks last fall when she had an unnerving encounter with him after she went into private firehouse sleeping quarters to get some rest.

She’d taken off her boots and the room was dark when a field chief and 38-year veteran entered the firehouse using a special key, opened the door and said, “I see you are laying down,” according to a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday.

Fearing she would be sexually assaulted, the woman jumped up and demanded the chief turn the lights on. After he refused and took a step toward her, she pulled back her foot and prepared to defend herself with kicks. “Maybe I should leave,” the chief allegedly said.

The woman reported the incident to another boss who took it up the chain of command. Not only was the field chief not disciplined but also within days rumors began to spread among the woman’s co-workers that she was unstable. One fellow paramedic turned his back on her when she arrived at an accident scene.

The harrowing allegations were included in a federal sexual harassment and gender discrimination lawsuit filed against the city Tuesday by five female paramedics who claim they were groped, stalked, and forced to endure repeated sexually explicit remarks from superiors.

The 57-page suit alleges the city has failed to deter a long-standing, pervasive culture of sexual harassment throughout the department’s firehouses and facilities, allowing men accused of wrongdoing to remain on the job while their accusers were often put on medical leave.

The conditions have been exacerbated by the city’s failure to provide even basic equalities for women, from adequate bathrooms to separate sleeping quarters, the suit alleged.

Much of the alleged sexual misconduct occurred in the midst of the national #MeToo movement that put a spotlight on egregious behavior in the workplace — often by male superiors who use their power or celebrity to harass or assault an underling.

In addition to the allegations against the field commander, three other women made allegations against the same ambulance commander. One said he tried to kiss her and force her to inappropriately touch him. The two others said he made repeated sexually explicit comments.

A fifth woman alleged that she was targeted for retaliation after she filed a complaint and ultimately an order of protection against her former boyfriend, a longtime firefighter. In October, she was accused of making false allegations against another department member and threatened with termination, although the allegations were later dismissed as unsustained, according to the suit.

All five plaintiffs were listed in the suit as Jane Does. Their attorney, Lynn Palac, said in an email that they did not wish to comment publicly, adding the women want to remain productive employees but filed the lawsuit as a way to get relief from the current hostile work environments.

Bill McCaffrey, a spokesman for the city’s Law Department, declined to comment specifically on the suit but said in a statement that the city of Chicago does not tolerate harassment of any kind.

The field chief accused in the complaint allegedly talked openly with his female subordinate about his home sex life, saying his wife was a grandmother who acted like it. He solicited the woman for a no-strings sexual relationship and repeatedly texted her sexually inappropriate messages, according to the suit.

Another one of the women who filed suit alleged that she was subjected to several unwanted sexual advances by an ambulance commander, including an incident in April 2017 when the commander grabbed her when the two were alone in a medic room at St. Joseph Hospital and kissed her and licked her face.

The woman filed a complaint with the city’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission office, but when investigators interviewed her months later, they threatened her with discipline herself for failing to disclose the name of a friend she said she’d told about the abuse.

thanks Dan


Pleasantview Fire District news (more)

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For Emily Switalski, graduating from Western Michigan University was bittersweet. Her father Comstock Township Fire Chief Ed Switalski was killed in the line of duty in June. 

While her dad couldn’t be there in person to watch her graduate Saturday, Switalski said she knows he was there in spirit, he found a different way to be there.

“There’s a song, ‘Hotel California’ by the Eagles, that we played at his funeral,” she said. “We always say whenever it comes on, ‘He’s with us,’” Emily Switalski said. “And my mom picked me up to take me to my ceremony, and on the radio was the song. And so, just to get in the car to go to the biggest day of my life and hear that, I knew he was truly with me.”

Firefighters who worked with Chief Switalski also showed up to her graduation ceremony to surprise her.


New engine for the East Joliet Fire Protection District (more)

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The East Joliet Fire Protection District showed off its newest piece of equipment Sunday, a Ferrara Cinder MVP Rescue Pumper. This unit functions with the combined capabilities of a squad for specialized rescue jobs and an engine.  The rescue/pumper cost about $685,000, which Fire Chief Robert Scholtes said was a little more than what would have been the cost for the two separate vehicles, but it will ultimately help firefighters have everything they need when they respond to emergency situations.

The East Joliet Fire Protection District began in 1940 as a volunteer department to cover the unincorporated areas of Joliet Township.

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