Archive for September 13th, 2019

Harvard Fire Protection District news

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Buffalo Grove Fire Department Open House

From the Buffalo Grove Professional Firefighters and Paramedics Local 3177 Facebook page:

Our open house is this Saturday, September 14th! Grab the family and come out for an amazing day filled with your local Buffalo Grove Professional Firefighters. We will have live demonstrations, tons of kids activities, and much more!


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Champaign Fire Department news

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 The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) has awarded two Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) grants totaling $411,597.52 to the Champaign Fire Department

The first grant of $272,311.81 is in the Operations & Safety program. It provides cancer, physical, and mental health screenings and resources for emergency personnel. The second grant of $139,285.71 is in the Fire Prevention & Safety program and will go towards purchasing a fire safety house trailer used for educational safety demonstrations.

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Chicago Fire Department news

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s also hopes to hammer out a new firefighters’ contract that eliminates treasured union perks and outdated staffing requirements that cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.

Sources said she delivered her cost-cutting message in a recent face-to-face meeting with Jim Tracy, president of Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2. The mayor asked for help and cooperation from a union that gave her a pivotal endorsement during the runoff campaign against Toni Preckwinkle. Sources said the answer was no, setting the stage for contentious negotiations.

Another city hall source noted former Mayor Rahm Emanuel had been close to a new firefighters’ contract that would have traded health insurance concessions for a reduction in daily variances from the minimum manning requirement that triggered the bitter 1980 firefighters strike. That rule requires every piece of fire apparatus to be staffed by at least five firefighters. But time ran out before the deal got done.

“If the union was smart, they would have grabbed that deal. But they got greedy. They wanted 15% over five years,” the source said.

Emanuel took office in 2011 talking even tougher than Lightfoot is now. He vowed to take a hard line with firefighters — though his own fire commissioner opposed closing fire houses or reducing the minimum staffing requirement. Four months later, then-Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff abruptly resigned, leaving firefighters without a champion.

Emanuel infuriated Local 2 by taking aim at such treasured union perks as holiday and duty availability pay; clothing allowances; pay grades; premium pay; the physical fitness incentive and the 7% premium paid to cross-trained firefighter/paramedics. The plan did not include closing fire stations, but it would have allowed all fire houses with an engine and truck to be staffed by nine firefighters instead of 10. Rookie probation would have doubled to 18 months.

In a letter to the rank and file, then-union president Tom Ryan declared Emanuel’s plan horrendous, insulting and ridiculous. Ryan dug in for what he feared would be a long and bitter battle that never happened. Emanuel backed off and settled for a vanilla agreement with no cost-cutting concessions.

For years, Inspector General Joe Ferguson has urged the city to revisit the minimum staffing requirement and eliminate a host of contract sweeteners. Ferguson had estimated annual savings of $57 million if the number of firefighters on each piece of fire apparatus was cut from five to four, and that another $14.3 million could be saved yearly by eliminating“duty availability pay — compensation for being on 24-hour call.

The mayor’s city council floor leader argued Tuesday that every option now must be on the table, including closing firehouses, to chip away at the city’s $838 million shortfall. “If the need for firefighters vs. EMTs has changed, we need to change the formula. There are no sacred cows anymore. They’ve all gone out to pasture.”

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot stood surrounded by firefighters at a solemn 9/11 remembrance Wednesday, an image in stark contrast to her reported private fight with them. She used the event as a backdrop to slam a Chicago Sun-Times report claiming that she went to the Union Local 2 demanding cost-cutting, and the union said no.

“That reporting was wildly inaccurate and I’m personally offended that it came out on 9/11. This is a day of unity. This is a day that we should be standing together,” Lightfoot said. “I’m disturbed at the inaccuracies in that reporting.”

She is in the process of negotiating contracts with unions representing Chicago’s firefighters, police officers, and teachers. Each powerful group is likely to secure pay raises as a condition of signing new deals.

Facing a staggering $838 million budget deficit, the mayor is looking for savings and efficiencies. This week she said the city can’t afford police overtime expenses, which soared to $67.6 million the first six months of the year.

She may also comb through the fire department’s budget, and costly minimum staffing requirements.

The city council floor leader says the unions must partner with the city.

There’s no comment from the firefighters’ union, but former firefighter and Alderman Nick Sposato said minimum staffing requirements are essential. But he admitted there could be room for some cuts.

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