Above is a recording that came directly from the official Village of Oak Brook (DuPage County), Illinois website. It is from a September 22, 2010 meeting of the Citizens Finance Advisory Committee. While I don’t know who the people are speaking, or whether they are political leaders or just village residents, it is clear what they are talking about. And it says a lot about how firefighters are now perceived during difficult economic times.
The issue under discussion is the pension for firefighters and an agreement that requires a minimum staffing on the department of 28 firefighters. The concern is the impact on the budget in lean times and how to deal with it. It is well worth listening to.
Included in the discussion is the idea of contracting out fire protection, something apparently prohibited in the current collective bargaining agreement. One of the people on the recording makes the suggestion that the solution is to order the chief of the department to fire one firefighter each month until the firefighters get the message. The person says if the chief can’t choose who to fire, they will make the choice for him and it could be the chief who may be gone. While there is no indication that this is seriously being considered, I don’t hear anyone speaking up saying this is a bad idea.
At point the person suggesting this tactic says, “Firemen, like cops, are street people. They only understand civilized force. That’s what they understand. You fire ’em.”
The entire meeting can be downloaded by clicking here (choose the September 22, 2010 CFAC meeting). On it there is other discussion that includes mention of a recent death of a firefighter in a neighboring department.
I wish I could give you more background information on this, but all I know is what is on the recording. I haven’t been able to find any news coverage about these issues.