Archive for February 18th, 2014

Carol Stream FPD conducts termination proceedings

The Carol Stream Fire District has initiated a termination hearing for one of their battalion chiefs.

The Daily Herald has been following this story and has an article from 2/12/14 about the opening of the proceedings:

A lawyer for the Carol Stream Fire Protection District says the charges leveled against Battalion Chief Joseph Gilles are “straightforward” — among them that he twice refused to sign a performance improvement plan, that “his peers do not trust him as a manager,” and that he twice fell asleep in meetings.

“Fire Chief Richard Kolomay has responded to Battalion Chief Joseph Gilles’ performance deficiencies since he’s become chief in 2010,” said Karl Ottosen, Kolomay’s attorney. “Lack of trust by his peers in his leadership abilities, hygiene issues, weight issues, communication issues.”

The termination hearing began Wednesday for Gilles, charged by Chief Kolomay for twice refusing to sign a performance improvement plan in what Kolomay’s lawyers have termed a “serious breach of conduct.”

“On Aug. 25, 2012, everything started to change for Joe Gilles,” said Aldo Botti, attorney for Gilles, during Wednesday’s proceedings. “For 18 years, Joe worked for your fire district and did an excellent job. You can’t deny his rights, whether the chief likes him or not.”

Gilles was the first witness called Wednesday. He confirmed under questioning that an evaluation from 2007 stated that he “needs to work to earn the respect of his peers,” and that his “uniform appearance was not up to acceptable standards.”

Gilles’ lawyers had made assertions that his weight remained essentially the same since being hired, but Gilles confirmed that his listed weight at time of application in 1995 was 240 pounds and his weight on a February physical was 361.

An email from Kolomay dated Sept. 10, 2012, directed Gilles to get specific questions answered by eight people responding to the paramedic call. Gilles sent a Kolomay a summary of his investigation three weeks later, stating that based on his review, the paramedic’s performance was below standards. Gilles recommended disciplinary actions for a lieutenant and two paramedics.

However, Gilles later confirmed that his report did not contain any recommendations to contact Central DuPage Hospital, where Nonneman died, the coroner’s office or Nonneman’s family with results of his investigation, which is contrary to previous claims.

Ottosen alleged that Gilles twice fell asleep during meetings in April 2013, including one time during an emergency operation meeting after flooding in the area, when the village’s police chief videotaped Gilles sleeping. Gilles was found “unfit for duty,” pending a sleep study.

The performance improvement plan, or PIP, which was presented to Gilles on July 27, cited three core issues from informal reviews, including that Gilles “lacks proper management skills,” “doesn’t garner the respect of his peers,” and his peers “do not trust him as a manager or leader.”

“A criticism exists that Battalion Chief Gilles does not create any level of expectations within his shift,” Ottosen said, reading from the PIP.

Gilles was ordered to report back on July 29 with the signed PIP or there would be formal termination charges. Gilles reported for work that day in a new uniform, brought in flowers and bagels for staff — but told Kolomay he wasn’t going to sign the PIP.

A letter from Kolomay on Aug. 3 gave Gilles three options — signed approval of the PIP, to “amicably separate from the district,” or to not sign the PIP, commencing termination hearings. Gilles did not choose an option, and in an Aug. 19 email, Kolomay explained to Gilles possible charges for termination and the option for a separation agreement.

Before the hearing, a motion was granted that testimony given, or evidence presented, related to the Aug. 25, 2012, paramedic call would be presented in closed session. Kolomay’s attorneys made the motion not to allow testimony about the incident in light of the pending lawsuit. The hearing resumes at 4 p.m. on Thursday.

Another Daily Herald article from 2/15/14:

Robert Schultz said he never reported Joseph Gilles’ shortcomings as Carol Stream Fire Protection District battalion chief in close to four years serving under him, but he claimed the feelings of Gilles’ performance were a “nightmare” he carried from one firehouse to another.

“Four years ago when I was promoted as company officer I came into a shift that had worked with Battalion Chief Gilles for quite some time. They were exposed to all the things that were in his personal improvement plan for years,” said Lt. Schultz during an at times contentious back and forth with Aldo Botti, Gilles’ attorney. “As a new officer, I am not going to go to my bosses with the fact that he wears a dirty uniform shirt, the fact that he may eat like a slob, when he’s always late for roll calls, when he doesn’t teach us.

Schultz, serving as acting battalion chief while Gilles is suspended without pay, was the second witness called in Gilles’ termination hearing that resumed on Friday. Schultz said he first met with Kolomay to discuss Gilles’ performance on June 1, 2013, days after Gilles received an email from Kolomay that he was being put on paid administrative leave. Schultz said Kolomay was doing an “informal inquiry of command staff,” and Schultz was asked Gilles’ strengths and weaknesses.

The PIP was presented to Gilles in July, citing three core issues: “lacks proper management skills,” “doesn’t garner the respect of his peers,” and his peers “do not trust him as a manager or leader.”

Schultz testified that as a battalion chief Gilles “was very good at making sure the boxes were checked” but was lacking in several other areas. He said that Gilles’ appearance on shift was “poor,” the condition and color of his uniform were not up to standards, and his command on the scene “nonexistent.” He said he neither trusted nor respected him.

Schultz said that during meals Gilles “had a history of coughing on our food” and “spilling his glass of milk onto our plates,” and he said he had witnessed Gilles falling asleep during “several meetings.” “During one meeting I was giving the status report of another firefighter, he had his hands crossed, head tilted down, and his eyes were shut,” Schultz said. “I said, ‘I guess this meeting is over’ and walked out.”

Schultz, who was also on the Aug. 25, 2012, call, said he shared concerns that the call “wasn’t up to the fire district’s standards” with Gilles sometime before the end of that shift. Schultz said he knew Gilles did not relay the concerns to the deputy chief, gave it about a week, then went to the deputy chief himself.

Gilles was subsequently asked by Kolomay to investigate the call and said in testimony Thursday that Zabran’s actions “rose to the level of termination.” Only months later, after failing her own PIP, did Zabran leave the district. Gilles said he twice told Kolomay that Zabran’s alleged negligence should be reported to Central DuPage Hospital, which oversees the district’s Emergency Medical Services program, and that Kolomay said “he would take care of it.” But Gilles now believes the EMS director was never notified.

 thanks Dan

Tags: , , ,

Fire departments discuss consolidation

The Daily Herald has an article about discussions between Carpentersville and West Dundee to consolidate their fire departments.

Carpentersville and West Dundee officials have started preliminary discussions on consolidating services within their fire departments, talks that come at a critical time for West Dundee’s finances. The nature of the consolidation, the services involved and the money it could save have not been determined, but future talks are expected to lay out that groundwork.

“There will be a math problem that shows all the communities why we should do it,” Carpentersville Village Manager J. Mark Rooney told the audit and finance commission last week. “The political will’s the back half of this.”

West Dundee is projected to lose between $300,000 and $400,000 in annual sales tax revenues once its Target store closes in May. Village officials are expected to discuss the financial ramifications next month during budget proceedings, Finance Director David Danielson said.

Carpentersville budgeted more than $5.5 million for its fire department in the fiscal year ending April 30. The department fields 32 full-time firefighters and 29 part-timers. The West Dundee Fire Department, meanwhile, consists of 11 full-time firefighters and 30 part-timers. Officials there budgeted almost $2 million for the fire department, Danielson said.

The consolidation talks started about a month ago with a meeting between West Dundee Fire Chief Randy Friese, West Dundee Village Manager Joseph Cavallaro, Rooney, Village President Ed Ritter and Public Safety Director Al Popp, who oversees both the police and fire departments in Carpentersville.

Three years ago, discussions on consolidation among police departments in West Dundee, Sleepy Hollow and East Dundee fell apart after Sleepy Hollow pulled out over autonomy issues and after concluding the village wouldn’t save as much money as officials hoped.

thanks Dan

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

4-Alarm fire with 2 specials in Northlake 2-15-14 (pt 6)

At long last, an epic 20 minute video from Larry Shapiro that includes the work of the Chicago Foam Task Force.

The series of postings from this fire can be viewed beginning HERE.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Evanston FD helps Shelbyville FD

The Shelbyville Daily Union has an article about one fire department coming to the aid of another

Eleven packages of new gear plus a big check for $10,000 equals a lot of happy firefighters.

Several pieces of Shelbyville Fire Department gear were damaged and stained with oil during the oil rig fire near Clarksburg in April. The contaminated gear posed a threat to firefighters going into any other fire because of the flammability. Only the second line firefighters – those not going directly into a fire – could wear the gear.

“I am ecstatic to get the gear,” said Shelbyville Fire Chief Gary Lynch. “We’re very happy thanks to the Evanston Fire Department.”

The gift was made possible by way of a Chicagoland visitor to the Balloonfest in October. The Shelbyville Fire Department held a cookout and displayed a truck and ladder and their smokehouse during the event and shared the story of the oil rig fire with the visitor. The visitor, who is a part of the Evanston Fire Department, contacted his chief and suggested that they donate some of their extra new gear to the Shelbyville department.

On Monday the gear arrived and Wednesday evening the squad got a chance to check it out.

The department was also presented a check for $10,000 from Shelby Electric Cooperative, Shelbyville Area Community Foundation, and CoBank Sharing Success Program.

“The cookout during the Balloonfest brought us $4,000, just shy of the $5,000 goal amount to get a matching grant from CoBank,” said Shelby Electric Cooperative spokesperson Kevin Bernson.

“We (Shelbyville Area Community Foundation) filled in to make sure they got the $5,000 so they could get the full match,” said Noel Bolinger of the Foundation.

The $10,000 will help purchase another 10 sets of gear.

Lynch noted that firefighter’s gear has a 7-year life before it needs to be traded out. He added that older gear that is still in good shape will be donated to the State Fire Marshall to be sent to another department.

The main source of funds for the fire department rests on the taxpayers. Any fundraisers the department does helps pay for the necessary extras to do their job. Many of the firefighting personnel are volunteers.

“This wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for Shelby Electric Cooperative, the Foundation, and CoBank. We are grateful and thankful,” Lynch said.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,