Posts Tagged Fire Chief Richard Kolomay

New fire chief in Carol Stream

Excerpts from the

The Carol Stream Fire Protection District board agreed to promote Deputy Chief Bob Hoff to the top post Monday night. Trustees are expected to approve a contract with Hoff at their meeting Monday, July 11. The length of Hoff’s contract will likely run three years. The board is still ironing out the terms of the deal, including Hoff’s salary.

Hoff will oversee a district with three fire stations and about 60 sworn employees. He joined Carol Stream in 2012 — less than two weeks after he stepped down as the head of the nation’s second-largest fire department. At the time, he aimed to spend more time with family, but got the job offer to become deputy under his longtime colleague, former Chief Rick Kolomay.

“The pace was set here when I got here, and we’re going to keep that pace up,” Hoff said shortly after the promotion. “The pride and the professionalism that this group has — it’s like when I was in the city. I love the fire service,” he said. “It’s my whole life. It’s my entire life other than my family.”

Including his son, his family has four generations of firefighters.

“He inspires me,” said Hoff, gesturing to a framed picture in his office of his father, a Chicago Fire Department battalion chief killed battling a blaze in an apartment building on Valentine’s Day 1962. Hoff was 5 years old at the time. “To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die,” reads a message below the image of his dad, Thomas, and his mom, Eleanor, who died eight years later.

The other finalist for the job was Perry Johnson, a 38-year veteran with the district. At the time of Hoff’s hiring, Johnson, then deputy chief, moved to a newly created civilian position — chief administrative officer. Together, they  have been handling the day-to-day operations of the district since Kolomay had shoulder surgery, went on paid leave, and officially retired June 1.

The two also have sat on the district’s negotiating team in ongoing contract talks with the firefighters union. Both sides are expected to meet with a federal mediator later this month. Pay raises are one of the issues that remain on the table, Hoff said. Negotiators are considering increases that would align firefighters’ salaries with those of employees in surrounding departments.

thanks Dan & Dennis

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Carol Stream FPD conducts termination proceedings (more)

The Daily Herald has a recent article about the ongoing termination proceedings in Carol Stream:

The Carol Stream Fire Protection District’s board of commissioners on Wednesday recommended terminating Battalion Chief Joseph Gilles, who faced charges of misconduct.

Commissioners found that Gilles’ misconduct is a “substantial shortcoming” that makes his continued employment in the district “in some way detrimental to the discipline and efficiency of the department and fire service,” according to a statement read by the board’s attorney.

Although the commissioners recommended firing Gilles, the district’s board of trustees still must vote on the matter.

The commissioners’ recommendation comes after a monthslong disciplinary hearing for the battalion chief, which centered on Fire Chief Richard Kolomay’s allegations that Gilles failed to follow orders to sign a performance improvement plan, known as a PIP. By not signing the plan, Gilles violated four rules of conduct, according to the allegations. The plan outlined core issues with Gilles, including that he does not have the proper management and leadership skills, and also lists seven goals for him.

During the disciplinary hearing, Gilles’ attorneys argued that Gilles was never actually ordered to sign the plan, and that even if he was, that order would have been unlawful.

They have also argued that Gilles fell out of favor with district superiors when he was asked to investigate possible acts of negligence by a paramedic involved in a 2012 call for a woman choking. The woman was taken to a hospital and died three days later.

The commissioners previously had upheld the charges of misconduct against Gilles at a hearing last month. Some of their findings included that Kolomay did order Gilles to sign the improvement plan, and that it was a lawful order.

The board of commissioners announced their decision Wednesday after Kolomay again took the stand, and attorneys on both sides made closing statements.

“It’s never fun to pursue termination of anybody — no one likes to do that,” said Karl Ottosen, one of Kolomay’s attorneys, after the commissioners’ recommendation was announced. “But you have the right to expect employees engage in conduct of a certain level. And when they fall below that, you look to impose discipline to either improve performance, not just to punish but to improve performance. … Challenging that authority of the chief, to say you need to improve in these areas and I am not even going to try, brought on the charges,” Ottosen added. “And so unfortunately, this is where we’re at.”

Aldo Botti, an attorney for Gilles, said they will be appealing the decision if confirmed by the trustees, and they are also “considering other actions that are related to this incident.”

thanks Dan

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Carol Stream house fire, 11-1-14

This fro John Tulipano:

On Saturday Novemner 1st, 2014 Carol Stream FPD was dispatched to possible structure fire at 510 Chippewa Trail, first arriving companies Bn 28 and Tower 28 reported a 1-1/2 story frame with smoke and fire showing. Companies made a quick aggressive interior attack, fire was under control once I arrived. Overhaul was in progress on the roof where the fire had burned through near the chimney
firemen doing overhaul on soffit

John Tulipano photo

firemen workon chimney fire

John Tulipano photo

Fire Chief Rick Kolomay

John Tulipano photo

firemen doing overhaul on soffit

John Tulipano photo

Fire Chief Rick Kolomay

John Tulipano photo

Carol Stream FPD fire engine 27

John Tulipano photo

firemen at house fire scene

John Tulipano photo

house with chimney fire

John Tulipano photo

more photos at

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Carol Stream FPD conducts termination proceedings (more)

The Daily Herald has an article on the termination proceedings for a Carol Stream FPD battalion chief:

The Carol Stream Fire Protection District Board of Fire Commissioners has upheld charges of misconduct against Battalion Chief Joseph Gilles.

The board’s Wednesday evening decision brings an end to Gilles’ monthslong disciplinary hearing. The backbone of the charges leading to the hearing rested on Fire Chief Richard Kolomay’s allegation that the battalion chief failed to follow Kolomay’s order to sign a performance improvement plan. By not signing the plan, Gilles violated four district rules of conduct, according to the allegations.

Now that the board has supported the allegations against Gilles, the final task for the commission is determining the penalty, officials said Wednesday. The chief has requested for Gilles to be terminated.

“The commissioners correctly sorted through the evidence to determine that Battalion Chief Gilles violated the rules of the district when he blatantly refused to sign the performance improvement plan and engage in remedial training,” according to a statement from Kolomay’s attorneys.

The plan outlines core issues with Gilles, including that he does not have the proper management and leadership skills, as well as seven goals for the battalion chief. Along with the plan, the hearing also has focused on a 2012 incident during which a district paramedic responded to a woman who was choking on food. That woman was taken to the hospital and died three days later.

Gilles’s attorneys have previously suggested the battalion chief fell out of favor with district superiors when he was asked to investigate possible acts of negligence by the paramedic. His attorneys also have argued that Gilles was never actually ordered to sign the plan, and that even if he was ordered, that order would have been unlawful.

According to board documents, some of the commissioners’ findings included that Kolomay ordered Gilles to sign the plan, the “behaviors and deficiencies which the (performance improvement plan) sought to improve or remedy fell within the authority of Chief Kolomay as Fire Chief” and the PIP was a lawful order.

The commissioners also found that the plan was not in retaliation for Gilles’s position concerning the 2012 paramedic incident for multiple reasons, including that if Kolomay wanted to “cover up” the incident, he would not have required an investigation.

Both Kolomay’s and Gilles’s attorneys have been asked to prepare legal briefs for the commissioners on the issue of whether the district has the authority to enter an order of demotion, in lieu of termination.

Both sides will meet again on Nov. 19 at 4:30 p.m., when attorneys can present evidence in support of the penalty they are seeking for Gilles.

thanks Dan

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Carol Stream FPD conducts termination proceedings (more) has an article on the termination proceedings of a Carol Stream FPD battalion chief:

Both sides made their final arguments Wednesday in the disciplinary hearing for a Carol Stream fire battalion chief who says his refusal to cover up negligence on the part of the fire protection district is the reason behind his suspension and potential termination, although district officials claim otherwise.

Joseph Gilles, who was hired by the Carol Stream Fire Protection District 19 years ago, was suspended in September 2013 after being charged with insubordination by District Chief Richard Kolomay for failing to sign a performance improvement plan. The district has cited the reasons for seeking Gilles’ termination as performance deficiencies, such as his weight and accusations he was sleeping at work.

Kolomay’s attorney, Karl Ottosen, said Kolomay went out of his way to help Gilles improve before he turned to a formal disciplinary process and instigated the improvement plan.

“In a paramilitary organization, people don’t have a choice whether to accept an order or not,” Ottosen said in his arguments. “Top-down orders have to be followed. You can’t pick and choose your orders. (Gilles’) plan was to refuse orders.”

However, Gilles’ attorney, Aldo Botti, says the termination hearing stems from an August 2012 choking incident in which a woman died.

At that time, a Carol Stream paramedic allegedly tried to intubate a choking 81-year-old woman at a party while food was still stuck in her throat, instead of first clearing the airway. Upon arrival, a second paramedic removed the blockage and transported the woman, Armida Nonneman, to a hospital, where she died three days later.

Botti has said the first paramedic, Carey Zabran, failed to follow protocol, and questions were subsequently raised as to whether the district handled the incident properly.

Kolomay instructed Gilles to conduct an internal investigation, after which Gilles recommended the paramedic be fired, Botti said.

Zabran was told to sign a performance improvement plan, and Gilles was told to oversee her completion of the plan, which he later said was satisfactory, although he still recommended she be terminated.

The paramedic eventually resigned from active duty with the district, and she now receives a non-duty disability pension. Gilles was asked to sign and complete a similar plan related to issues cited by Kolomay, Botti said.

“The PIP is unlawful; the PIP is vague,” said Botti, adding the plan is subjective, requiring the chief to decide whether Gilles passes or fails.

He said Kolomay has no authority to make those decisions.

Kolomay’s attorney presented his arguments to the Carol Stream Fire Protection District Board of Commissioners, focusing not on the August 2012 incident, but on Gilles’ refusal to sign the plan.

“Two paramedics have been totally discredited on that case; it has nothing to do with this case,” Ottosen said. “As long as a directive is given, an employee has to follow it unless it is illegal. There is nothing on PIP that is illegal. ”

Due to the volume of material the commission needs to review before making a decision, group deliberations in closed session will begin Wednesday.

The next public hearing is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Oct. 15, when the commission will disclose its findings.

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Carol Stream FPD conducts termination proceedings

The Carol Stream Fire District has initiated a termination hearing for one of their battalion chiefs.

The Daily Herald has been following this story and has an article from 2/12/14 about the opening of the proceedings:

A lawyer for the Carol Stream Fire Protection District says the charges leveled against Battalion Chief Joseph Gilles are “straightforward” — among them that he twice refused to sign a performance improvement plan, that “his peers do not trust him as a manager,” and that he twice fell asleep in meetings.

“Fire Chief Richard Kolomay has responded to Battalion Chief Joseph Gilles’ performance deficiencies since he’s become chief in 2010,” said Karl Ottosen, Kolomay’s attorney. “Lack of trust by his peers in his leadership abilities, hygiene issues, weight issues, communication issues.”

The termination hearing began Wednesday for Gilles, charged by Chief Kolomay for twice refusing to sign a performance improvement plan in what Kolomay’s lawyers have termed a “serious breach of conduct.”

“On Aug. 25, 2012, everything started to change for Joe Gilles,” said Aldo Botti, attorney for Gilles, during Wednesday’s proceedings. “For 18 years, Joe worked for your fire district and did an excellent job. You can’t deny his rights, whether the chief likes him or not.”

Gilles was the first witness called Wednesday. He confirmed under questioning that an evaluation from 2007 stated that he “needs to work to earn the respect of his peers,” and that his “uniform appearance was not up to acceptable standards.”

Gilles’ lawyers had made assertions that his weight remained essentially the same since being hired, but Gilles confirmed that his listed weight at time of application in 1995 was 240 pounds and his weight on a February physical was 361.

An email from Kolomay dated Sept. 10, 2012, directed Gilles to get specific questions answered by eight people responding to the paramedic call. Gilles sent a Kolomay a summary of his investigation three weeks later, stating that based on his review, the paramedic’s performance was below standards. Gilles recommended disciplinary actions for a lieutenant and two paramedics.

However, Gilles later confirmed that his report did not contain any recommendations to contact Central DuPage Hospital, where Nonneman died, the coroner’s office or Nonneman’s family with results of his investigation, which is contrary to previous claims.

Ottosen alleged that Gilles twice fell asleep during meetings in April 2013, including one time during an emergency operation meeting after flooding in the area, when the village’s police chief videotaped Gilles sleeping. Gilles was found “unfit for duty,” pending a sleep study.

The performance improvement plan, or PIP, which was presented to Gilles on July 27, cited three core issues from informal reviews, including that Gilles “lacks proper management skills,” “doesn’t garner the respect of his peers,” and his peers “do not trust him as a manager or leader.”

“A criticism exists that Battalion Chief Gilles does not create any level of expectations within his shift,” Ottosen said, reading from the PIP.

Gilles was ordered to report back on July 29 with the signed PIP or there would be formal termination charges. Gilles reported for work that day in a new uniform, brought in flowers and bagels for staff — but told Kolomay he wasn’t going to sign the PIP.

A letter from Kolomay on Aug. 3 gave Gilles three options — signed approval of the PIP, to “amicably separate from the district,” or to not sign the PIP, commencing termination hearings. Gilles did not choose an option, and in an Aug. 19 email, Kolomay explained to Gilles possible charges for termination and the option for a separation agreement.

Before the hearing, a motion was granted that testimony given, or evidence presented, related to the Aug. 25, 2012, paramedic call would be presented in closed session. Kolomay’s attorneys made the motion not to allow testimony about the incident in light of the pending lawsuit. The hearing resumes at 4 p.m. on Thursday.

Another Daily Herald article from 2/15/14:

Robert Schultz said he never reported Joseph Gilles’ shortcomings as Carol Stream Fire Protection District battalion chief in close to four years serving under him, but he claimed the feelings of Gilles’ performance were a “nightmare” he carried from one firehouse to another.

“Four years ago when I was promoted as company officer I came into a shift that had worked with Battalion Chief Gilles for quite some time. They were exposed to all the things that were in his personal improvement plan for years,” said Lt. Schultz during an at times contentious back and forth with Aldo Botti, Gilles’ attorney. “As a new officer, I am not going to go to my bosses with the fact that he wears a dirty uniform shirt, the fact that he may eat like a slob, when he’s always late for roll calls, when he doesn’t teach us.

Schultz, serving as acting battalion chief while Gilles is suspended without pay, was the second witness called in Gilles’ termination hearing that resumed on Friday. Schultz said he first met with Kolomay to discuss Gilles’ performance on June 1, 2013, days after Gilles received an email from Kolomay that he was being put on paid administrative leave. Schultz said Kolomay was doing an “informal inquiry of command staff,” and Schultz was asked Gilles’ strengths and weaknesses.

The PIP was presented to Gilles in July, citing three core issues: “lacks proper management skills,” “doesn’t garner the respect of his peers,” and his peers “do not trust him as a manager or leader.”

Schultz testified that as a battalion chief Gilles “was very good at making sure the boxes were checked” but was lacking in several other areas. He said that Gilles’ appearance on shift was “poor,” the condition and color of his uniform were not up to standards, and his command on the scene “nonexistent.” He said he neither trusted nor respected him.

Schultz said that during meals Gilles “had a history of coughing on our food” and “spilling his glass of milk onto our plates,” and he said he had witnessed Gilles falling asleep during “several meetings.” “During one meeting I was giving the status report of another firefighter, he had his hands crossed, head tilted down, and his eyes were shut,” Schultz said. “I said, ‘I guess this meeting is over’ and walked out.”

Schultz, who was also on the Aug. 25, 2012, call, said he shared concerns that the call “wasn’t up to the fire district’s standards” with Gilles sometime before the end of that shift. Schultz said he knew Gilles did not relay the concerns to the deputy chief, gave it about a week, then went to the deputy chief himself.

Gilles was subsequently asked by Kolomay to investigate the call and said in testimony Thursday that Zabran’s actions “rose to the level of termination.” Only months later, after failing her own PIP, did Zabran leave the district. Gilles said he twice told Kolomay that Zabran’s alleged negligence should be reported to Central DuPage Hospital, which oversees the district’s Emergency Medical Services program, and that Kolomay said “he would take care of it.” But Gilles now believes the EMS director was never notified.

 thanks Dan

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