Posts Tagged SAFER grant

Sycamore fire department updates

Sycamore fire department receive federal grant

Excerpts from the

The Sycamore Fire Department has received a $35,620 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to purchase 16 new sets of protective clothing.

A news release states that U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin announced the grants this week for nine organizations including fire and emergency medical services across the state, totaling $866,923 between them.

The grant covers 95 percent of the estimated $37,400 price tag of the new gear, according to the release. The clothing it is replacing is more than 10 years old. National Fire Protection Standards state that protective clothing must be replaced when it reaches 10 years old, regardless of the clothing’s condition, Sycamore fire officials said.

The funding was provided by the Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, which has provided about $5.25 billion since 2001 in federal funding across the country to help organizations afford new equipment, personal protective equipment, training and vehicles, according to a news release.

Sycamore approves contract with firefighters

Excerpts from the

 The Sycamore City Council on Monday approved a four-year contract with Sycamore’s 26-member firefighter union.

By a 6-0 vote the council approved the contract that includes a 2.25 percent pay raise this year and next, and a 2.5 percent increase in 2017 and 2018. The new contract, which will cost the city about $2.2 million each year until it expires in 2019, also includes a system that caps the number of firefighters that responds to shift recalls during the day at 11, a no-layoff clause, and a retirement health care funding plan.

Mayor Ken Mundy said the contract includes “a couple of nice features that encourages self-investment in the unit” for retirement.

“All of us need to do more than our pension, or whatever plan we’re working under through our employer, to be sure we have funds set aside for retirement,” Mundy said. “Both sides worked together in a real respectful and honorable way to come to some middle ground and some agreement on the four-year contract. We’re very pleased.”

The approved deal mirrors deals made earlier this year with the Sycamore’s two other unions – the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 133 and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3957.

“All three of our bargaining units have been very good about reasonable requests for increases through some tough years,” Mundy said.


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Oak Lawn unclear on pursuing Safer Grant

An article in the Oak Lawn Leaf

A proposal to investigate Safer Grants to fully fund the salaries of two new firefighters for two to three years was met with resistance, despite the fact that the Village of Oak Lawn will soon not have enough firefighters to meet its contractual obligation due to upcoming retirements.

Trustee Robert Streit asked the mayor and trustees to consider applying for a Safer Grant immediately. The village began the year with 76 firefighters and will be down to 72 by July 1st. The village has not hired any new firefighters since 2007. The staffing is down from a high of 108 through attrition and the failure to replace the firefighters.

The village has waged a legal battle with the firefighters’ union over the concept of minimum manning. The Oak Lawn Professional Firefighters Association Local 3405 and the village battled over this issue with the firefighters filing an unfair labor practice against the village for refusing to bargain on the issue.  The Illinois Labor Relations Board ruled against the village and that decision was upheld by the Illinois Appellate Court in 2011.

Phillip Kazanjian, an administrative law judge who issued an opinion in August of 2010, was one of two judges who heard testimony regarding the minimum manning issue. Judge Kazanjian also heard an unfair labor charge regarding the village’s decision to lay off firefighters. Oak Lawn’s current board majority has continued to pursue a change to the minimum manning law and has blamed the fire department for service cuts in other areas due to overtime.

The goal of a SAFER Grant (Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response) is to improve and restore fire department staffing so they may more effectively respond to and mitigate emergencies.  Streit raised the issue of applying for the grants by citing statistics including Fire Chief George Sheets’ statement that this year was the  deadliest in the history of Oak Lawn for fire deaths.

Deetjen said the village is preparing an application but it will require the cooperation of the union, implying that the union would have to make concessions for the village to support applying for a grant.   According to sources within the fire department, Deetjen remains opposed to adding additional firemen unless the firefighters’ union agrees to reduce the minimum manning provision.  Firefighters were recently told by Fire Chief George Sheets that the Village of Oak Lawn will not pursue the Safer Grant to add firefighters unless the union gives in to Deetjen’s demand.

The failure to adhere to the contract could lead the village into more litigation with the fire department if the firefighters file another unfair labor practice.  The village has incurred outstanding legal liabilities of over one million dollars in its unsuccessful battles with the firefighters.

thanks Dan

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East St. Louis to lay off firefighters

According to an article found at, the City of East St. Louis plans on laying off 17 firefighters as the result of a SAFER Grant which has run out.

EAST ST. LOUIS — Seventeen firefighters who were hired with grant money have received notices that they will be laid off effective Sept. 30, unless city leaders find other means to pay them.

City Manager Deletra Hudson sent a letter to the firefighters dated Aug. 22 telling them that the city “has been forced to make some difficult financial decisions to meet its budgetary obligations.” The News-Democrat obtained a copy of the letter.

The money came from a SAFER grant, which stands for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response. The grant, which was used to pay the firefighters’ salaries, has run out, forcing the city to send out the lay-off notices.

The grant, which was good for a year, ran out on March 30.

In the letter from Hudson, the firefighters were directed to turn in all keys, identification badges, gas cards and all other city property to the department director. The letter also said that the firemen would be notified in writing of their rights “regarding continuation coverage for health, dental and vision insurance and any unused vacation days.”

Fire Chief Jason Blackmon said the department has a total of 54 firemen, including the 17 who are slated to be laid off.

Mayor Alvin Parks said after the grant ran out in March the city found some extra money to keep the firefighters on the job until the end of September.

Parks acknowledged that 19 layoff letters were mailed out, but he said two of the firefighters’ salaries were transferred to the general fund, so for now, only 17 may actually be laid off.

“I have complete confidence in the fire department administration. I am confident they will utilize creativity and resourcefulness to keep negative impact to a minimum,” Parks said.

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