Posts Tagged Mattoon Fire Department

Mattoon Fire Department news

Excerpts from icbcradio.com:

During a meeting Tuesday night, the Mattoon City Council voted unanimously without additional discussion to approve a memorandum of understanding with Mattoon Firefighters Local 691 to reduce the minimum certification requirement for newly hired firefighters from EMT-paramedic to EMT-basic.

The union has called for the city to bring staffing back up to 30 firefighters as required by the current contract, which was set to expire in 2018 but is still in place until a new contract is reached. The Mattoon Fire Department currently has approximately 22 firefighters on staff. City officials have said that they are having trouble finding candidates who have paramedic certification.

Under the memorandum, there are provisions for new hires to obtain paramedic certification while they are working in the fire department. The temporary reduction in EMT requirements will expire when the city and union execute a new contract.

The two parties are also going through an Illinois Labor Relations Board hearing process, in which the city is appealing a recent ruling that the Mattoon Fire Department’s ambulance service should be reinstated. The city shuttered its service on July 25, 2018 as a cost-cutting measure and now relies solely on a private provider.

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Mattoon Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from the jg-tc.com:

The City pf Mattoon will likely appeal a state panel’s ruling that the Mattoon Fire Department’s ambulance service should be reinstated. The three ambulances have been in storage since the city shuttered its emergency medical service on July 25, 2018, but officials have said that new equipment would be needed before the service could resume.

An Illinois Labor Relations Board State Panel ruled on Aug. 18 that the service should be restored because the city violated firefighters’ collective bargaining agreement by the way it was eliminated.

The city administrator said the ruling hinges on differing interpretations of the Illinois Substitutes Act’s scope and that the city maintains that it did not substitute unqualified contractors for firefighter-paramedics, but instead exercised its right to eliminate the municipal ambulance service and rely instead on the certified paramedics in existing private service in Mattoon.
 
The case stems from the city council adopting a resolution on July 18, 2017 to eliminate the ambulance service as a cost cutting measure. City officials reported then that this service was too costly and was duplicating the work of private providers. Mattoon Firefighters Association Local 691, which subsequently filed grievances, has maintained that the service provided essential community care and city revenue.

Following rulings in favor of the city and the union on various points, the ambulance dispute reached a new stage with the state panel’s recent ruling.

“The city implemented the change in the firefighters’ working conditions under the parties’ current agreement without bargaining to impasse or submitting the matter to interest arbitration,” the panel wrote. “Because the parties’ collective bargaining agreement requires the parties to provide ambulance services, the cessation of city-operated ambulance services and the resultant transfer of firefighters’ work responding to emergency medical calls changed the existing conditions of employment.”

Firefighters union President Bart Owen said the appeals process can take up to a year. He noted that the union’s civil contempt filing from last year in Coles County Circuit Court is still pending. This filing calls for the city to be held in contempt for not bringing contracted staffing levels back up to 30 firefighters as called for by a Dec. 9, 2019 court ruling.

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Mattoon Fire Department news

Excerpts from jg-tc.com:

The Illinois Labor Relations Board has ruled in favor of the Mattoon Fire Department over a dispute about privatizing ambulance service. In a 21-page ruling, the board says the ambulance service should return as it operated in 2018.

The fire department operated an advanced life support ambulance service from 2010 to 2018 and the Mattoon City Council voted to eliminate it as a cost savings measure. The Mattoon Firefighters Association, Local 691 ?filed a grievance, saying the adoption of the resolution violated its collective bargaining agreement.

The city can appeal the ruling. Read the full ruling here.

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Mattoon Fire Department news

Excerpts from jc-tg.com:

The City of Mattoon’s insurance rating for fire protection service recently improved, a change that could yield lower insurance premiums for some property owners. Fire Chief Jeff Hilligoss said the Insurance Services Office (ISO) issues these ratings for how well protected communities are by their fire departments. Insurance companies then use that score to help set property insurance rates, although the impact on homeowner insurance policies varies by insurer.

An ISO fire insurance rating is scored on a range of 1-10, with lower numbers meaning better ratings. There are four main criteria for for score: 50 percent from the quality of the fire department, 40 percent from the availability of water supply, 10 percent from the quality of the local 911 system, and an extra 5.5 percent from fire prevention programs. Only 0.71 percent of all communities surveyed have a rating of 1, and a rating of 5 is both the median and most common rating. The Mattoon Fire Department previously had a rating of 4/4, and  Mattoon improved to 3/3 through changes in documentation, additional training, inspection services, and water distribution system improvements.

The Mattoon Fire Department will work to lower this score again in a couple of years.

Excerpts from jc-tg.com:

The Mattoon City Council voted on June 16 to appoint Jeff Hilligoss to the chief’s post after conducting a candidate search process with the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association. 

In 1995, Hilligoss began pursuing his career in firefighting when he became a volunteer with the Lincoln Fire Protection District. He served there as a volunteer firefighter for 25 years and was eventually named chief of this district’s Old State Road station in rural Mattoon, a position he held until recently.

After gaining experience as a volunteer firefighter, he was hired by the Mattoon Fire Department 19 years ago and worked his way up the ranks to engineer and then captain, and also became a training supervisor. Hilligoss has years of experience with the day to day operations of the department and cooperating with other area emergency response agencies. He said that experience will help him as he takes on the administrative responsibilities with Mattoon. Hilligoss intends to develop long term plans for vehicle and equipment purchases, and continuing to improve the city’s Insurance Services Office rating for fire protection capabilities.

The Mattoon Fire Department’s previous permanent chief retired in February 2019. The department subsequently had two interim chiefs; first Kris Phipps and then Kevin Schott.

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Mattoon Fire Department news

Excerpts from jg-tc.com:

The city recently paid a total of $79,000 in compensatory damages to 32 current and retired firefighters in a Mattoon Fire Department staffing level case that began on Feb. 22, 2018, when the city and Mattoon Firefighters Association Local 691 were in arbitration on union claims that the city failed to maintain minimum staffing of 30 firefighters as required by contract.

Arbitrator Gill Vernon found on April 9, 2018, that the city had violated this requirement and ordered the city to bring staffing up to 30, from the low 20s. He also ordered the two parties to reach an agreement on a monetary penalty. The city and the union were unable to reach an agreement, and this dispute ultimately led to a hearing before Circuit Judge Matthew Sullivan on Dec. 3, 2019.

Sullivan granted the union’s motion for summary judgment and the arbitration award that Vernon had issued on June 17, 2019. This remedy included $79,000 in damages for distribution among all current and former firefighters who served at the time in question. The city also was ordered to pay $19,059 in attorney fees for the union, $9,225 in reimbursement for lost union dues, and $3,900 in arbitrator fees. The Mattoon City Council voted on Jan. 7 to pay the compensatory damages, which will be covered by the city’s insurance fund. 

Meanwhile, the Mattoon firefighters union awaits the scheduling of an Illinois Labor Relations Board hearing, the outcome of which could affect the upcoming arbitration session for a new collective bargaining agreement with the city. They have been operating under the previous contract, which expired on April 30, 2018.

The arbitration session will not be held until after the Illinois Labor Relations Board hears an appeal from the union about the board’s 2018 dismissal of an unfair labor practice against the city. The charge had alleged that the city engaged in unfair labor practices when it eliminated the Mattoon Fire Department’s ambulance service without providing notice to or bargaining with the union.

Arbitrator George Fitzsimmons ruled on April 18, 2018, in favor of the city’s plans to eliminate the Mattoon Fire Department’s ambulance service on July 25, 2018, as part of efforts to deal with city budget deficits. Mitchell-Jerdan Ambulance Service, a longtime provider in Mattoon, was part of the ambulance call rotation with the fire department’s service and is now the sole provider in town.

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Mattoon Fire Department news

Excerpts from jg-tc.com:

The city council voted Tuesday night to hire Litchfield’s former fire chief, Kevin Schott, as the Mattoon Fire Department’s interim chief. Schott has extensive experience as a city chief and as a firefighter with the Illinois Air National Guard. After retiring from the Guard, Schott served as chief operating officer for the Illinois State Fire Marshall’s Office.

Schott’s interim chief contract will be effective Jan. 13-July 12. The city will begin searching for a permanent chief with the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association’s help.

The previous interim chief, Kris Phipps, resigned in October about eight months into his 12 month contract due to disagreements with other officials regarding the department’s operations. The previous chief, Tony Nichols, retired early in February.

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Mattoon Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from wandtv.com:

In less than a year, Mattoon has gone from three ambulance services to one. Now, the city council is placing a moratorium on a new service trying to come to town for up to the next six months.

The city pulled the fire department out of ambulance business in July 2018, citing budget issues. Last week, Dunn’s Ambulance Service announced it was leaving the city due to staffing issues. Mitchell-Jerdan is now the only ambulance provider left.

The local firefighters union is still trying to get the city to reconsider the ambulance service as they also negotiate a new labor contract. Union president Bart Owen says Mitchell-Jerdan has had issues fulfilling the need on its own in the past.

“It hate to say ‘wait and see’ again, but we’ll have to watch this,” Owen said. “We are not staffing [our ambulances]. They are in storage…they are technically still an option here. But we’re being told they’re not an option at this time.”

But the mayor and city council have remained firm: the city-run ambulance service was cost this city money and wasn’t viable long term.

“Do you want us to cut police officers?” asked city commissioner Preston Owen. “Do you want us to cut ambulance services duplicated? Do you want us to stop filling potholes? That’s the choice.”

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Mattoon Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from jg-tc.com:

Taylorville-based Dunn’s Ambulance has given notice that it plans to close its Mattoon operation sometime on or before May 31, which would leave Mattoon based Mitchell-Jerdan Ambulance Service as the sole provider of ambulance services in Mattoon. Dunn’s has been operating in Mattoon since 2008 and has an ambulance station at 1821 Marshall Ave.

The city ended the Mattoon Fire Department’s ambulance service on July 25, but the department has retained advanced life support equipment on its fire trucks to provide backup service as needed. The fire department operated an advanced life support ambulance service from 2010 to 2018. City officials have said that the department’s ambulance service lost money and duplicated the work of private providers. Firefighters countered that their service generated needed city revenue and provided essential coverage for Mattoon.

Mitchell-Jerdan has increased its ambulance and staffing levels since the fire department’s ambulance service ended and it has provided backup for Dunn’s as needed. There have been a few instances in recent months of Charleston Fire Department ambulances needing to be dispatched to Mattoon for backup.

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Mattoon Fire Department news

Excerpts from jg-tc.com:

The Mattoon City Council voted unanimously at its meeting Tuesday night to approve an agreement for retired Charleston fire chief Kris Phipps, as an independent contractor, to serve as interim chief for 12 months to fill a vacancy created by the Feb. 25 retirement of Tony Nichols. The interim chief resolution states that the city opted to hire a contractor in the interim to ensure the efficient operation of the fire department while the city conducts an employee selection process in order to permanently fill the chief vacancy.

Under the contract, Phipps will serve as interim chief from March 19, 2019, to March 18, 2020, for a total fee of $118,500 paid in installments. The city administrator said he hopes the city can begin seeking chief candidates from within the department and outside it in about six months.

Phipps retired in 2009 as Charleston fire chief after serving three years in this post and a total of 27 years with the department. He then worked for Spectra Tech, Inc., based in Oak Ridge, Tenn., in roles that included teaching emergency operations planning for those who work with fuel storage facilities.

 Mattoon Fire Department’s shift captains have been handling top leadership responsibilities with the department since Nichols stepped down. The council voted on Oct. 17 to eliminate the department’s assistant chief post due to budgetary restraints and to transfer then-Assistant Fire Chief Sean Junge to fill a vacant shift captain post.

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Mattoon Fire Department news

Excerpts from jg-tc.com:

Mattoon Fire Chief Tony Nichols has announced that he plans to retire after leading the department for nine years and serving in the department for 24 years after  joining the fire department in December 1994.

He said the budgets for the fire department and city have gotten tighter every year during the last decade which have made it tougher to operate the department. He said the council’s vote to eliminate the department’s ambulance service last summer was a factor in deciding it was time to retire. The fire department operated an advanced life support ambulance service from 2010 to 2018. City officials have said that the department’s ambulance service lost money and duplicated the work of private providers. Firefighters countered that their service generated needed city revenue and provided essential coverage for Mattoon.

Nichols, a Mattoon native, is a second generation Mattoon firefighter. His father, Gary, served with the fire department for 27 years and retired as captain more than a decade ago. Nichols joined the department after serving in the Navy and worked his way up to becoming chief in October 2009.

He is proud of fundraisers that firefighters have held for various community causes, such as Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the firefighter’s Thanksgiving food basket program in addition to the more than $550,000 in grants that firefighters have obtained in recent years to help with the purchase of a rescue pumper and turnout gear.

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