Archive for September 24th, 2016

Chicago Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

In another in a long line of hiring discrimination rulings against the Chicago Fire Department, a federal appeals court on Monday ruled in favor of female paramedics in striking down a physical performance test used by the city to hire paramedics for over a decade.

The decision in the sex discrimination lawsuit, Ernst v. City of Chicago, overturns federal district court verdicts in 2014 and 2015 finding the city’s use of the test did not discriminate against female applicants. The fire department has been mired in litigation over racially and sexually discriminatory hiring practices for decades.

The appeals court ruling strikes down a test used by the department from 2000 to 2014. Between 2000 and 2009, nearly 1100 applicants, including 800 men and 300 women, took the test. Of those, 98 percent of the male applicants passed. The passing rate for female applicants was 60 percent, and plaintiffs in Ernst v. City of Chicago alleged this amounted to disparate impact under federal discrimination law.Judge Daniel Manion, authoring a unanimous opinion for the three-judge panel, questioned how some of the test elements, which included an arm crank machine, a timed step test, and a leg strength test, could measure any skill required of a Chicago paramedic.

While the city maintained the test was necessary, the court found a “lack of connection between real job skills” and the test, calling that “fatal to Chicago’s case.”Discrimination lawsuits against the department include the long-running Lewis v. City of Chicago, a more than 10-year-old race discrimination lawsuit which ended in a 2012 U.S. District Court injunction ordering Chicago to hire 111 African-American firefighters.In 2013 and 2014, the city settled two class-action lawsuits with women rejected for employment based on physical performance tests designed by the same developer who created the new test now struck down by the appeals court. Those settlements, Vasich v. City of Chicago and Godfrey v. City of Chicago, led to the hiring of more than 40 women as firefighters.

The plaintiffs in the case were Stacy Ernst, Irene Res, Kathy Kean, Dawn Hoard and Michelle Lahalih — all experienced paramedics.

thanks Dan

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2-Alarm fire in Evergreen Park, 9-24-16

Video by Steve Redick of a 2-Alarm fire in Evergreen Park at 3701 W. 95th Street (9/24/16)

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Streator Fire Department news

Excerpts from

Earlier this year, the Streator Fire Department enacted a new policy requiring firefighters to respond to most medical emergencies, but the firefighters’ union is filing a complaint on the policy, saying it is a mandatory subject of negotiations. In March, it filed a complaint with the Illinois Labor Relations Board, which has yet to act.

The firefighters, represented by the International Association of Firefighters, allege the city committed an unfair labor practice by refusing to bargain in good faith over the change in policy, and the union asked the labor board to order the city to bargain in good faith.

In January, the city required all firefighters take classes to become certified first responders as part of their yearly training, according to the complaint filed March 21. On March 1, the city unilaterally required firefighters to begin first responder care for life-threatening emergencies, the complaint said.

The next day, the union sent a letter to City Manager Scot Wrighton demanding the city bargain over the change. Wrighton declined.

The policy change happened after Springfield-based HSHS closed St. Mary’s Hospital on Jan. 4 and immediately sold what was left to Peoria-based OSF, which has hospitals in Ottawa and Pontiac.

Under the new policy, the fire department will be dispatched to the three levels of medical emergencies prioritized as the most severe, and they will be sent to other calls when needed.

In his March 14 reply, Wrighton said the city entered a cooperative arrangement with Advanced Medical Transport, Streator’s private ambulance service, to provide union members first responder training to mitigate the impact of changes in ambulance and emergency room services now occurring in the community.

During a labor-management meeting, the union acknowledged it could not quantitatively document any impact that would require bargaining. Everyone involved agreed firefighters could be affected if they were exposed to certain blood-borne pathogens and risks of infection while responding to medical emergencies. As a result, Wrighton said, the city agreed to pay for all necessary vaccinations.

Under the state Public Labor Relations Act, providing first responder training amounts to an enhancement of the standards of service, which management is allowed to do, Wrighton said.

thanks Dan

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Of interest … Freckles the firehouse dog

Excerpts from

One of Chicago’s most famous dogs, Freckles, is on the mend after West Loop neighbors — and strangers — came to his rescue earlier this year.

After tearing his left ACL during a squirrel chase this summer, Freckles the firehouse dog needed surgery.

Often called the “ambassador of the West Loop,” Freckles is loved by many, but doesn’t have an official owner. He lives at Engine 103’s firehouse in the West Loop and neighbors Karen Pollack and Michelle Langlois, who live across the street from the firehouse, help care for him.

To raise funds for his surgery, Pollack and Langlois launched a GoFundMe campaign. Within days, neighbors had raised nearly $4,000 to help the 12-year-old Dalmatian-Pitbull mix.

Veterinarians Joanna Krol and Jason Long at the Animal Care Center of Chicago in the West Loop performed Freckles’ surgery to repair the injury. Soon after, vets at Veterinary Specialty Center in Buffalo Grove offered to provide rehab services to Freckles free of charge, Pollack said.

Freckles is completing underwater treadmill and laser therapy to treat pain and inflammation, confirmed Dr. Lindsay Seilheimer, a vet at the suburban center.

A West Loop celebrity, Freckles has posed for pictures with the cast of “Chicago Fire” and earned many fans over the years. He also has his own website, a Twitter handle and Facebook fan page.

Pollack said Pouch, the resident firehouse dog on “Chicago Fire,” was even modeled after Freckles.

thanks Dan