Excerpts from ABC7Chicago.com:

Some black firefighters and paramedics in Chicago are calling for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to oust Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago and for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the Chicago Fire Department. The mayor added the department of justice already oversees CFD’s promotions testing since 1980. He says the city has been working with DOJ and will continue to do so.

The African American Firefighters & Paramedics League claims there’s still racism within the CFD, despite a court order to hire and promote black firefighters.

The Chicago Fire Department has a well-documented history of discriminatory hiring. Recent class action lawsuits have resulted in minorities and women becoming firefighters. But some say heavy handed discipline and missed promotions are disproportionately affecting African Americans in the department.

It is rare that a firefighter would speak against the department. But on Thursday, some representing Chicago’s African American firefighters and paramedics made some disturbing allegations. “We have systemic racism within the Chicago Fire Department,” said James Winbush, African American Firefighters & Paramedics League.

They want the Department of Justice to investigate hiring and promotion within the department, and they want the fire commissioner out. “We’ve met with him for five years, the league has met with him, we’ve had all kinds of discussions with him. He says one thing, he does something absolutely different,” Winbush said.

On Thursday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel noted changes that have been made to address past injustices in hiring and he stands behind Commissioner Santiago. The mayor and commissioner emphasize equal treatment and equal opportunity are critically important.

Despite African American applicants going through the academy following class action lawsuits, those here today allege that problems exist.

“Despite my degrees, despite my work history and also my experience, I still found myself being demoted and not treated fairly,” said Vickie Beals, a CFD ambulance commander.

A recent incident, they say, was how a station with a majority of African American firefighters was treated after concerns about bedbugs. New beds were delivered as the league held its press conference Thursday.

“We’re not asking for a handout, we are just asking for equality,” said Gregory Boggs, African American Firefighters & Paramedics.

thanks Dan

Excerpts from WLSAM.com:

There is a renewed call for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign, this time from some firefighters.

James Winbush, founder of the African American Firefighter and Paramedic League of Chicago, says there are unfair hiring practices within the fire department and is calling on the resignation of Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago as well as Mayor Emanuel.

“Mayor Rahm Emanuel, we need him out of here. He needs to be gone. He’s racist, he’s incompetent, he’s a union buster,” Winbush said.

Of Chicago’s 4,800 firefighters, Winbush says 753 are Black.

Winbush wants the U.S. Department of Justice, which is investigating the police department, to look into hiring practices at the fire department.

thanks Asher

Excerpts from theChicagoTribune.com:

An organization representing African-American firefighters and paramedics on Thursday asked the U.S. Department of Justice to expand its probe of the Chicago Police Department to include the fire department, saying hiring and disciplinary practices there are unfair.

The African-American Firefighters & Paramedics League of Chicago also demanded that Mayor Rahm Emanuel dismiss Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago, alleging that Santiago has failed to investigate claims that minority firefighters are disciplined and demoted unjustly.

“We have to address the fact that there have been so few minority hirings on the job,” league President Gregory Boggs, a lieutenant emergency medical technician, said at a news conference. “We want the Justice Department to come in before any new hiring is done. African-Americans are being disciplined much more often than anyone else. We’re calling on the mayor to do something about this.”

Fire departments across the country have long struggled with race and hiring. And although Chicago’s department is led by a Hispanic, he has not addressed the discrimination and bias that still exists, the firefighters contend.

The Chicago Fire Department has been sued numerous times and has been ordered by judges to change hiring practices to be more inclusive. Of the nearly 4,800 Chicago firefighters, 16.5 percent are African-American, said Larry Langford, a spokesman for the department. About 13.5 percent of the firefighters are Hispanic, and the vast majority — about 64.5 percent — are white.

“There are no restrictions on who can apply for this job,” he said. “We aren’t excluding anybody. What else can we change to be more inclusive?”

The written exam to apply to be a firefighter is given about once every decade. More than 40,000 applicants sat for the test, even though only a few hundred will be hired. Those who pass the exam are issued a random number, placed on a waiting list and offered a chance to be hired if their number is called.

About three dozen black firefighters and paramedics attended the news conference to tell their personal stories.

Capt. Carmelita Wiley-Earls said she joined the department to help the public and was able to rise to become an academy commander. But after complaining about sexist behavior in her firehouse, she said, she was moved from her administrative position.

“There’s no one that held that position prior who had ever been demoted,” she said. “I am sick of putting my uniform on every day, going to a firehouse to represent and serve the citizens of Chicago, only to be retaliated (against) on various fronts.”