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Fire department suspensions stemming from SUV going into lagoon

  • Chicago City Hall seen here on the North LaSalle Street side.
Chicago City Hall seen here on the North LaSalle Street side. (Jos? M. Osorio / Chicago…)
July 22, 2013|By Leonor Vivanco, @lvivanco | RedEye

A Chicago firefighter got a six-day suspension after a department SUV he parked near a lagoon rolled and was partially submerged in the lagoon, according to a newly released report by the Inspector General.

The firefighter left the 2006 Ford Expedition running when it was parked in a grassy area near the lagoon and was talking on his cell phone 30 feet away from the SUV, the second quarter report issued last week said. When the SUV started rolling toward the lagoon, the firefighter was unable to stop it and the vehicle had "irreparable water damage," the report said.

The city bought the SUV for $29,565. After the incident, the city auctioned off the SUV and got $2,225. The net loss estimated by the city is $10,750 after taking into consideration the black book retail value and the amount from the auction, the report said.

The Inspector General's Office, which investigates city employees and violations of city rules and policies, recommended the firefighter be suspended without pay for three days. The fire department suspended him for six days.

Also, the Inspector General's Office recommended the battalion chief be suspended without pay for 10 days because of his negligence in investigating the accident.

The battalion chief failed to categorize the accident as "preventable" on the report he completed and omitted the firefighter had yelled out the SUV was in neutral, the quarterly report said.

As such, the accident report "minimized the firefighter's responsibility for the SUV accident and effectively shielded him, and possibly his supervisor, from CFD sanction," the Inspector General report said.

The battalion chief got a one-day suspension.

In 2011, the Sun-Times and the Better Government Association reported the Inspector General was investigating the incident at the Sherman Park lagoon. At that time, nobody had been punished.

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