Posts Tagged Chicago FD Commissioner Jose A. Santiago

Chicago Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is looking for a new Chicago Fire Department commissioner, as Jose Santiago hits mandatory retirement age and steps down. Emanuel tried to find a way to let Santiago stay past his 63rd birthday that’s coming up in a few days, but the city statute bars firefighters of any rank from serving beyond that.

Emanuel appointed Santiago in 2012 after the retirement of Robert Hoff. At the time, the mayor would not rule out closing firehouses or reducing the number of firefighters per truck from the required five, saying new technology made change possible. But there have been no such cuts. Emanuel also initially pushed for an end to uniform allowances and other perks for firefighters under the contract that was then being negotiated. But those harder-line positions also didn’t make it into the final deal.

The city’s contract with Firefighters Union Local 2 expired over a year ago, and negotiations are underway for a new deal as the re-election-seeking mayor searches for a new fire commissioner.

Emanuel wants to name a replacement soon, and his focus will be on candidates within the fire department.

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Chicago Fire Department news – Mickelberry Fire Ceremony

This from Steve Redick:

On Wednesday I had the honor of attending the memorial for the 50th anniversary of the Mickelberry tragedy. The members of Engine 50 and Truck 18 (first due to the incident), put a lot of time and effort into a very nice ceremony and reception at company quarters. I have a personal connection to the event as my father responded there on Snorkel Squad 3. His company arrived after the explosion had taken place so they all escaped injury. It was well attended by family members of those lost as well as some members who were at the incident back in 1968. I present a few images and video to give an idea of the events. More photos:


Chicago FD Engine 50

Steve Redick photo

memorial to fallen Chicago Firefighters

Steve Redick photo

Chicago FD Chaplain Fr John McNalis

Steve Redick photo

Ceremony to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Mickelberry Sausage Company fire

Steve Redick photo

American flag suspended from a fire truck ladder

Steve Redick photo

Chicago FD Commissioner Jose Santiago

Steve Redick photo

FD bell ringing ceremony

Steve Redick photo

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Chicago inspector general attacks CFD uniform allowance

Excerpts from the

Chicago taxpayers are shelling out $5 million-a-year to provide a uniform allowance to firefighters that’s more like an automatic cash bonus because it’s completely unmoored from any determination of actual need or use, Inspector General Joe Ferguson concluded Wednesday.

Four years ago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel took aim at treasured union perks that included the clothing allowance; holiday and duty-availability pay; pay grades; premium pay; non-duty lay-up coverage; a physical fitness incentive and a 7-percent premium paid to cross-trained firefighter-paramedics.

The mayor subsequently backed away from all of those concession demands in a pre-election contract that won him the surprise endorsement of a Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2 that had endorsed mayoral challenger Gery Chico over Emanuel in 2011.

The new, five-year contract called for Chicago firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians to get an 11-percent pay raise over five years, but ends free health care for those who retire between the ages of 55 and 65.

Now, Inspector General Joe Ferguson is taking aim at that uniform allowance in an audit that examined the “issuance, exchange and repair of uniform items” at the Chicago Fire Department’s Commissary.  That’s a storefront run by an outside contractor that issues and sells uniforms under a five-year, $11.7 million contract that expires in 2019.

The city provides free uniforms and free replacements on an exchange basis, unless items are lost or stolen, damaged beyond repair due to employee negligence or excessive weight fluctuations.

The uniform allowance — $1,250 or $1,500, depending on the assignment — is supposed to be used for the maintenance and cleaning of uniforms.

In his audit, Ferguson compared uniform issuances, exchanges and allowances at the Chicago Fire Department to similar spending in New York City, Philadelphia, Toronto, Dallas, San Diego, and Indianapolis.

The Chicago Fire Department issued fewer dress and work uniform items to new hires than most other cities and spent less per-employee than any other city surveyed. But, that comparative advantage is more than offset by an annual uniform allowance that is among the most generous in the nation, Ferguson concluded.

“Purportedly provided to pay for the annual maintenance and cleaning of uniforms, the allowance is completely unmoored from any determination of actual need or use,” Ferguson wrote.

“In addition, CFD does not monitor or audit how [or for what] members spend their allowance once it’s disbursed. As a result, this substantial annual stipend, one of the most generous in the nation, more closely resembles an automatic cash bonus. It therefore merits rigorous scrutiny and reassessment in the context of the city’s 2017 bargaining round with Local 2. … The sizable uniform allowance given to CFD personnel represents an additional opportunity for improved budgetary transparency, accountability and savings.”

In the audit, Ferguson examined 58,257 transactions valued at $1.7 million over a one-year period ending on June 30, 2015 and found that 99.9 percent of those transactions adhered to department policy and management practices.

But, he also found that $535,757 — or 10.5 percent — of commissary expenditures made in 2012 and 2013 “came from a grant source that was not included in the budget proposal or appropriation” for the vendor-run store.

The Chicago Fire Department said that was an historical practice that it intends to change in the future to provide more transparency.

Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago has also made other changes in response to the audit. They include prohibiting firefighters and paramedics from procuring uniform items for other members and modifying the point during training at which candidate paramedics are measured for an receive uniform items to reduce spending on candidate for subsequently drop out.

In addition, the commissary vendor is now required to review past usage of individual members at the time of new transactions to reduce the risk of excessive purchases or exchanges.

Earlier this year, Ferguson concluded that the fire department could save at least $1.2 million a year and potentially millions more in overtime by hiring civilians to perform 34 administrative jobs that have nothing to do with firefighting or emergency medical service.

One of the positions targeted for civilianization was the job of commissary liaison charged with resolving uniform exchange disputes between members and the outside vendor. The job is currently filled by a CFD captain, the new audit states.

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CFD Deputy Commissioner McNicolas resigns after crash (more)

Excerpts from the

The third-highest ranking member of the Chicago Fire Department has resigned after failing a Breathalyzer test, but questions linger about why he has not been charged with driving under the influence.

Chicago Fire Department officials on Thursday night released a statement confirming that CFD Deputy Commissioner John McNicholas failed a sobriety test after a crash early Wednesday.

“The investigation thus far has found that McNicholas was operating his city vehicle outside of department policy, and that following a mandatory breathalyzer test that morning, McNicholas was driving under the influence of alcohol,” CFD spokesman Larry Langford said in a statement. “Yesterday, McNicholas opted to resign his position as Deputy Fire Commissioner and has since agreed to full separation from the fire department.”

Langford confirmed McNicholas also was issued a citation from police for negligent driving.

But sources tell the Chicago Sun-Times that McNicholas is unlikely to be charged with driving under the influence because the test was not administered by police responding to the crash. McNicholas was instead administered the test by the internal affairs division of the fire department … and police are not allowed to use a fire department test because it is measured on a different standard.

Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi on Thursday confirmed that McNicholas was ticketed for negligent driving, but he said the investigation remains open. He did not comment on whether police administered the field sobriety test and said he could not comment on any pending charges.

Police said initially that no citations or charges had been issued just after the crash, but police and fire officials were conducting a joint and active investigation.

McNicholas tendered his resignation to department Commissioner Jose A. Santiago on Wednesday and is “fully cooperative with the Internal Affairs Division,” Langford said.

According to the fire department’s last chance policy, which is in their contract, anyone caught for an alcohol or drug offense can be placed on a type of probation where they are tested randomly for alcohol or drugs for a year. If they test negative during that period, their probation is lifted.

McNicholas will not be given that opportunity, sources said. But McNicholas will still receive a pension for his 36-year career with the fire department.

thanks Dan

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CFD Deputy Commissioner McNicolas resigns after crash

Excerpts from

The deputy commissioner of the Chicago Fire Dept has resigned after he was involved in a car crash early this morning.

John McNicholas was in a department vehicle when it crashed near Lakeshore Drive and North Ave, according to the Chicago Fire Dept.

The department spokesperson said in a statement  “The Deputy Commissioner has been fully cooperative with the Internal Affairs Division of the department. The investigation has thus far found that McNicholas was operating his city vehicle outside of department policy.”

Photos of the accident obtained by WGN News shows the Ford Explorer with severe front-end damage and the airbag deployed. The vehicle is said to be a total loss.

Police say McNicholas was behind the wheel. They say McNicholas was cut off by another motorist, swerved trying to avoid an accident and crashed into a utility pole. In a statement, police say no one was injured and that no citations were issued.

McNicholas handed in his letter of resignation this afternoon.

The investigation is ongoing, the department says.

Excerpts from the

The third-highest ranking member of the Chicago Fire Department resigned Wednesday after crashing a city-owned vehicle near Lake Shore Drive in Lincoln Park.

John McNicholas, who ran the Bureau of Operations, was involved in a crash off Lake Shore Drive near North Avenue early Wednesday, according to an emailed statement from Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford.

He was driving a CFD vehicle westbound on La Salle Drive just off Lake Shore at 12:50 a.m. when another vehicle cut him off, according to Chicago Police.

The CFD vehicle swerved to avoid a collision, went over a curb and struck a utility pole, police said. No one was hurt.

No citations or charges have been issued, but police and fire officials are conducting “a joint open and active investigation,” police said.

McNicholas tendered his resignation to department Commissioner Jose A. Santiago Wednesday and is “fully cooperative with the Internal Affairs Division,” according to Langford.

Chicago Deputy Fire Commissioner resigns after crash

The city-owned vehicle that was driven by former Deputy Fire Commissioner John McNicholas at the time of a crash on Lake Shore Drive early Wednesday. | Provided photo

Excerpts from

One of Chicago’s top firefighters has resigned after a crash that sources say may have involved alcohol.

Deputy Fire Commissioner John McNicholas may have been drinking before he crashed his city issued SUV early Wednesday morning, yet no tickets were issued.  McNicholas was in charge of operations, the third highest in command. He also handled discipline.

Sources say he was on Lake Shore Drive and hit a pole tree and say any employee in such an accident in a city vehicle should be tested immediately.

CBS 2 has been told there were special exemptions given and there was a delay of several hours and he still tested over the legal limit.

CFD Capt. Carmelita Wiley-Earls said, “Here we go once again, a professional courtesy given to a brother firefighter…If anyone was driving drunk then they would have been arrested.”

Wednesday evening, fire department spokesman Larry Langford said in a statement, “Chicago Fire Department Deputy Commissioner John McNicholas was involved in a traffic accident in the early hours of April 20, 2016 near Lakeshore Drive and North Avenue in a department vehicle. The deputy commissioner has been fully cooperative with the Internal Affairs Division of the department. The investigation has thus far found that McNicholas was operating his city vehicle outside of department policy. Late this afternoon McNicholas tendered a letter to Fire Commissioner Santiago resigning his position as deputy fire commissioner for operations effective today. The investigation is ongoing.”

It is not clear if he only resigned his position as deputy fire commissioner or if he resigned from the department.

The Chicago Police Department says it is conducting a joint investigation with the Chicago Fire Department into the specifics of the accident.

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2015 Chicago Fire Engine Rally & Swap Meet (more highlights)

This from Steve Redick:

Saturday was the big day. The weather was kinda poor for most of the show .. little sun. Turnout was also kinda sparse. I did really enjoy the parade and what there was to see. I imagine it is a thankless and difficult job to set all this up and it is a credit to the hardworking members who selflessly put this together every year.


Chicago FD academy ladder truck with American flag

Steve Redick photo

Former Chicago FD 1928 Ahrens Fox fire engine

Steve Redick photo

Former Chicago FD 1928 Ahrens Fox fire engine

Steve Redick photo

Former Chicago FD 1928 Ahrens Fox fire engine

Steve Redick photo

antique fire engine model

Steve Redick photo

scratch built fire truck model CFD Big John

Steve Redick photo

Stone park FD fire engine

Steve Redick photo

former Navy fire engine

Steve Redick photo

restored antique fire engine

Steve Redick photo

former Backdraft movie fire engine

Steve Redick photo

Chicago FD medical cart ATV

Steve Redick photo

More of Steve’s photos

Previous muster post

Some photos and a video from Larry Shapiro

Retired CFD Chief Andy O'Donnell

Larry Shapiro photo

old fire engines flowing water at muster

Larry Shapiro photo

Former US Navy fire engine flowing water

Larry Shapiro photo

restored fire engines at muster

Larry Shapiro photo

Chicago FD Commissioner Jose A. Santiago

Larry Shapiro photo

Retired Chicago FD District Chief Jack Connors and Ralph Feld memorial award recipient George Reichardt

Jack Connors presenting George Reichardt with the Ralph Feld Memorial Award Larry Shapiro photo

Chicago FD Commissioner Jose A. Santiage

Larry Shapiro photo

More of Larry’s photos

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