Posts Tagged Fire Chief Brian Leahy

Clarendon Hills Fire Department news

Excerpts from

An investigation found that Clarendon Hills firefighters violated their department’s callback compensation policy more than 1,500 times over three years, and the inquiry identified tensions between two groups of the department’s members.

On Tuesday, the village released an attorney’s report of a months-long investigation into the compensation system. The problems are believed to have led to the ouster of longtime Fire Chief Brian Leahy earlier this year.

The attorney said the 1,592 violations ended up costing the village $52,000 from 2020 to 2023.

On Jan. 1, 2020, Leahy started staffing the fire department with four personnel at all times, rather than three. The stated intent was to reduce the callbacks of paid-on-call firefighters related to minor alarms and mutual aid calls to Hinsdale lasting less than 15 minutes, which was later extended to Westmont.

In 2020, callback violations made up 8 percent of all calls, which increased to 12 percent in 2021 and 15 percent in 2022. The rate dropped to 10 percent in the first nine months of 2023.

The chief, who was put on leave in November, entered a severance agreement with the village. As part of the pact, he agreed to be interviewed for the investigation. 

The report said the tension between part-time firefighter paramedics and paid-on-call firefighters was an issue in every interview during the investigation, and that Leahy acknowledged the tension, but viewed the paramedics as the main complainers. He said the paramedics complained that paid-on-call members abused the callback system.

In an interview late last year, administrative Lt. Jim Weil, who was also put on leave in November, acknowledged the callback policy was not properly followed over the three years, but said it was not abused and that he would question the accuracy of certain callbacks and bring them to Leahy’s attention. Weil said the chief would make the final call on whether they were approved or denied.

When Leahy and Weil were put on leave, the village immediately changed the policy on callbacks.

In a memo to the Village Board on Tuesday, internal controls were put in place for callbacks in November. The village installed a new door system to track attendance, put in place new attendance sheets, and corrected past practices of “rounding up” and pyramiding hours.

The village also installed cameras at all of its buildings, and employees received extended training on proper payroll procedures.

Under state law, the village could have kept the lawyer’s report secret, citing the secrecy of attorney-client communications. But the village resolved some time ago to release it. It was posted on the village’s website.

The 68-year-old Leahy started as chief in 1985 and joined the department in 1971.

He couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.

thanks Scott

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Clarendon Hills Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

Scott Pilafas, who worked as a Clarendon Hills paramedic for 19 years, submitted his resignation April 10. He singled out Fire Chief Brian Leahy for criticism.

“The current leadership in the department has made it unbearable to work,” Pilafas said. “The Chief places value on local department members with minimal experience while undervaluing Firefighter/Paramedics who are needed for the majority of calls… This continues to create a toxic divide in the department.”

In his resignation letter, Pilafas said he was vocal about the fire department not replacing the ladder truck. Leahy and other department leaders strongly favored buying a truck, despite the village manager’s reservations.

“It’s hard to work for leadership that doesn’t respect paramedics and has never had to be a paramedic or walk in our shoes,” Pilafas said in the letter. “You can add me to the list of the over 70 Paramedics that have come through the door in the past 19 years.”

As with all paramedics and firefighters in Clarendon Hills, Pilafas was part time. He is a full-time Chicago firefighter.

Pilafas said the fire department is buying a new ambulance, but may have no one to staff it. He said these staffing problems have occurred while the fire department put its emphasis on a new ladder truck.

In March, Chief Leahy said the village needed paramedics, but said the fire department could cover its ambulance shifts.

Leahy did not return messages for comment left on Monday and Thursday.

thanks Martin

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Clarendon Hills Fire Department news

From the

Clarendon Hills needs paramedics, but the fire department can cover its shifts the chief said.

Every month, Fire Chief Brian Leahy releases the monthly schedule more than a couple of weeks ahead of time. Many shifts, often during weekends, are open. For March, the fire department put out the original schedule Feb. 11. Nearly two weeks later, about four dozen shifts remained unfilled.

“That’s pretty normal,” Leahy said in an interview. “The firefighters, EMTs and paramedics put in their shift requests. Some don’t put in any until they get their schedules for their full-time jobs.”

Except for Leahy, the department’s members are part time.  He said the department has looked at how other departments with paid, on-call models handle scheduling.

On the open shifts, he said that 99.9 percent of the time, someone will pick up a shift. At the same time, he acknowledged staffing can be difficult.

“We’ve been struggling through this all through COVID,” Leahy said. “McDonald’s can’t get enough employees. It’s the same thing.”

thanks Robert

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Illinois Fire Chief Receives National Award for Home Fire Sprinkler Advocacy

Excerpts from

The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Fire Sprinkler Initiative and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition awarded Fire Chief Brian Leahy from the Clarendon Hills (Illinois) Fire Department with the 2015 Bringing Safety Home Award, presented at the Fire Sprinkler Initiative Summit on October 13th in Phoenix, Arizona.

The award recognizes fire service members and other safety advocates who use HFSC’s home fire sprinkler educational materials and Fire Sprinkler Initiative resources to ensure that decision-makers have accurate information as new or updated home fire sprinkler codes are considered.

Fifteen years ago, Chief Leahy spent hours meeting with his mayor and elected officials to educate them about the benefits of home fire sprinklers. His village manager presented him with 33 concerns brought up by those who opposed a fire sprinkler requirement. With limited resources, Leahy addressed every concern. His efforts resulted in the passage of an ordinance requiring fire sprinklers in all new, one- and two-family homes. Clarendon Hills became the fifth community in Illinois to do so, but the ordinance was the first in one of the state’s teardown-and-rebuild community. Leahy’s list to the village manager is known as the Clarendon Hills “List of 33” and is still used as a resource in other communities looking to enact home fire sprinkler requirements in new homes.

Today, more than 700 Clarendon Hills homes and the families that occupy them are protected with fire sprinklers.

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Clarendon Hills looks to expand fire station

Excerpts from the

A space needs study completed by an architectural firm having extensive experience with fire stations indicates a need for an addition to the Clarendon Hills station, 316 Park Ave.

FGM Architects, which did the $6,150 study and has designed more than 200 fire stations, provided preliminary cost estimates for three options: building a one-story addition to the existing structure at a cost of $1.6 million, not including the cost of land acquisition of an adjacent bank parking lot; a two-story addition priced at $3.6 million; and building a new facility on a different site for $6 million.

The existing facility, built in 1962, has 6,354 square feet; an addition of 4,405 is recommended, an increase of about 70 percent.

Fire Chief Brian Leahy said a single-story addition is preferred.  “The two-story addition, while not requiring land acquisition, is not preferred because it will involve putting in two stairways plus an elevator and raises certain safety concerns for fire personnel,” Leahy said.

“Some of the safety concerns identified by fire station designers include the prevention of injuries while firefighters are rushing down stairways when responding to emergency calls,” he said.

The study states that the department’s administration has outgrown the capacity of the facility. All of the offices are undersized, including one that personnel from several different areas share. The growth of the department has warranted the need for a separate office for training, fire prevention, emergency medical services and the deputy chief functions, the study states.

Other needed expansions and additions, according to the study, include the lobby and radio area, a 10-person conference room for larger meetings, additional bunk room space for potential future expansion or growth in storage needs, a separate entry to the bunk room, a fitness room and increasing the training/meeting room to its original size, allowing for a capacity of 35 to 40 people. The training room has a current capacity of 21.



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New ambulance in Clarendon Hills

Excerpts from the Chicago Tribune:

It’s a good thing Clarendon Hills officials decided to keep their old ambulance as a backup when they purchased a new $259,000 vehicle in December 2014.

The 2015 Freightliner/Horton ambulance, delivered Dec. 11, has been out of service since Feb. 23 because of cracks on the inside wall, said Fire Chief Brian Leahy. It is expected to be out for repairs until late March.

“There was some major cracking, and we took it back to the dealer,” Leahy said.

The dealer is Foster Coach Sales, Inc., a Sterling, Ill., company that only sells ambulances. They sent the ambulance to the manufacturer, Horton Ambulance, in Ohio.

“On March 9, it’s going to be disassembled and then reassembled,” Leahy said. “It started with one crack and then five cracks a week later. The whole inside needs to be taken apart and put back together.”

While he is disappointed about having the ambulance out of service just months after it arrived, Leahy is confident everything will be fine in the end.

“It’s a glitch; I don’t think it’s a lemon,” Leahy said. “The problem is cosmetic, but it needs to be fixed.”

While the new ambulance is being fixed, Clarendon Hills has its 2008 ambulance back in service. The original plan was to trade in or sell the old ambulance. That process led to two verbal offers of $30,000 each.

However, Leahy said internal discussions led to the idea of keeping the 2008 ambulance as a reserve to be used when the new ambulance is temporarily out of service for regular maintenance, mechanical failure, or because of being involved in an accident. The fire department has traditionally operated with only one ambulance. A ladder truck is equipped with some medical gear, but cannot transport anyone needing to go to the hospital.

Leahy said the department would work without a backup ambulance while the new one is being fixed. However, Foster Coach Sales has offered to provide a loaner if needed.

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