Chicago’s inspector general says 20 of 111 black firefighters hired as part of the settlement of a discrimination lawsuit were never properly cleared by the department physician. Two of those firefighters died off-duty after suffering medical problems.
After the first firefighter’s death, the Chicago Fire Department hired an outside physician to look at the files. It was determined the firefighters who died were among “six candidates who the outside doctor identified as having medical conditions warranting further inquiry.”
In his quarterly report, Ferguson disclosed he had conducted an investigation that revealed that “at least 20 firefighters” in the so-called Lewis class of African-American firefighters “had not been medically cleared” by a Chicago Fire Department physician before starting duty, contrary to “national standards” and the city’s own “established practice.”
“Two of the 20 improperly cleared members suffered serious medical events while off-duty and died not long after they began their full duties, highlighting the importance of a CFD physician to provide medical clearance for all new firefighters,” Ferguson wrote.
“OIG strongly urged that CFD consider immediate action to assure that the remaining 18 members who had not been medically cleared by a CFD physician were, in fact, medically fit for duty. OIG further urged that CFD devise and implement a formal medical clearance policy consistent with national standards to assure that similar deviations did not occur in the future.”