Details outlined in fire chief-sharing deal
By Steve Metsch firstname.lastname@example.org July 27, 2014 5:28PM
Oak Lawn Fire Chief George Sheets | File photo
Updated: August 29, 2014 6:15AM
Oak Lawn Fire Chief George Sheets will have full responsibility over the Chicago Ridge Fire Department, but staffing remains the job of the Chicago Ridge mayor and trustees, according to an agreement approved by each village board.
The SouthtownStar obtained copies of the agreement through Illinois’ freedom of information law.
Under the unusual arrangement, approved by Chicago Ridge on July 15 and Oak Lawn on July 8, Sheets will have “all of the traditional powers and authorities” and will be in charge of “all personnel, equipment, apparatus and staff vehicles” for the Chicago Ridge department through 2016.
Its staffing “shall continue to be the sole and exclusive responsibility” of the mayor and trustees, but Sheets is in charge of discipline of fire personnel, the agreement states.
It says Chicago Ridge, which has 13 firefighter/paramedics, will pay one-third of Sheets’ annual salary because he is expected to spend “no less than one-third of his time at the Chicago Ridge Fire Department providing managerial and administrative duties.”
Sheets became Chicago Ridge’s fire chief July 15, so the village this year will pay one-third of his salary over 5.5 months, or $37,695. Chicago Ridge will continue to pay a third of his salary during 2015 and 2016, the length of the existing contract.
Under the agreement, Sheets’ job in Chicago Ridge can be “discontinued at any time and for any lawful reason’ by the mayor. However, if that were to happen, Chicago Ridge would be liable for paying Sheets through 2016.
He and/or Oak Lawn would have to give Chicago Ridge at least 30 days notice if they decide his tenure there should be concluded.
The villages agreed that Sheets is not eligible for civil service protection or pension, workers compensation, health insurance or disability benefits through Chicago Ridge, continuing to receive the benefits as a full-time employee of Oak Lawn.
Also, any lawsuit that may be filed regarding Sheets’ actions in one village would not include the other village as a defendant.