Watch Now: Illinois Firefighters Resign After Convicted Arsonist Appointed | State and regional
The Prairie Du Pont fire district has fallen into chaos.
Its three-member board replaced the fire chief on Monday with a controversial deputy chief who was convicted of arson 23 years ago and who was reported for safety violations.
This prompted the resignation of 10 of the 13 volunteer firefighters, according to former fire chief John Rosenkranz, 37, of East Carondelet.
The district’s Facebook page, which serves as the official website, is used by both supporters and opponents of the new interim fire chief, and the latter are asking St. Clair County Council to remove council members. by Prairie Du Pont.
âIn the past 2 years, there have been violations of the Open Meetings Act, federal background check violations, tort law violations, civil rights violations, discrimination and sexual harassment issues, “according to a” no confidence “letter sent to county council by the” Prairie Du Pont Fire Department. “
“The board refuses to hear calls from departments for laws and regulations of the state of Illinois and the federal government to be followed. They will not let the public read or view their minutes. meetings There are NO current financial reports made to the general public There are no (postings) budgets or equipment contracts.
Prairie Du Pont serves approximately 2,500 people who live in a 14 square mile area that includes East Carondelet and some homes with the Dupo, Cahokia Heights, Millstadt, and Columbia postcodes.
The new acting fire chief is Jerame Simmons, 42, of Dupo, who has served as a firefighter in several departments in the Eastern Metropolitan area over the years. Prairie Du Pont’s board of directors promoted him to deputy chief last summer, demoting John Rosenkranz’s wife Laura Rosenkranz.
The board called a special meeting at 3 p.m. Monday to replace John Rosenkranz with Simmons.
The board members then posted a statement on Facebook, saying they appreciated Rosenkranz’s service but determined in recent months that new leadership was needed.
“The council is aware that some of the current officers and members of the fire department may disagree with the council’s decision, however, the position of fire chief under state law is at the discretion of the council. administration …
âIn order for this position to be effectively served, directors must have a good working relationship with the person exercising the leadership role and they must have confidence in the leadership provided. When this is not the case, it is the duty of the board to make the changes it deems appropriate.
The governor pardoned
Jerame Simmons is the son of Herb Simmons, mayor of East Carondelet, a village of 390 people, and executive director of the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency, which provides 911 services.
Jerame Simmons pleaded guilty in St. Clair County Circuit Court to arson and having illegal âoscillating emergency lightsâ on his personal vehicle in 1998. (He was a firefighter at the time.) He went on to go on to do that. successfully completed four years of intensive probation.
According to court documents, Jerame Simmons went to the basement of Dupo High School, picked up toilet paper and ceiling tiles and set them on fire, knowing that a woman was present in the building. The small fire did not lead to a larger fire and no one was injured.
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker pardoned Jerame Simmons in the arson case, but that does not “absolve” him of the crime, according to the letter from Prairie Du Pont firefighters to county council.
Jerame Simmons could not be reached for comment on Tuesday, nor members of the Prairie Du Pont board of directors. Phone calls were not answered at the fire station by the employee or voicemail.
Jerame Simmons posted a video on his personal Facebook page, showing a clip of John and Laura Rosenkranz being interviewed by TV reporters after the Prairie Du Pont special reunion alongside a laughing emoji. The video was set to the Rolling Stones song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. It also included part of the board statement.
John and Laura Rosenkranz were among those who stepped down on Monday.
“It’s not about me being a chief or whatever (firefighters),” John Rosenkranz said by phone Tuesday. “This is this reckless and lawless advice that will hurt or kill someone, lose property and promote destruction in this area.”
John Rosenkranz called the change in personnel “retaliation” for his efforts to get basic district financial information he needed to prepare budgets and apply for grants so firefighters could update their equipment and maintain safe operation.
John Rosenkranz said he was forced to file Freedom of Information Act requests for such information.
Other on-call services
Herb Simmons said in a private Facebook post on Tuesday that Prairie Du Pont is a separate entity from his jurisdiction as mayor of East Carondelet and that he did not attend any of his council meetings. administration for 30 years.
When asked if he was concerned about what might happen if a fire breaks out in the community after so many firefighters have resigned, Herb Simmons said: âThe District Fire District Board members m ‘said last night that was not true.
The council addressed the potential problem in its statement:
“The council hopes that members of the fire department will work with the interim chief to provide quality emergency services to residents and landowners in the district during this time of transition,” it read.
“While the council hopes this will not be necessary, arrangements have been made by the district with neighboring fire departments to provide any necessary coverage in the Prairie Du Pont district in the event that there is a staff shortage in the department. fire would occur as a result of the Council’s action. “
Prairie Du Pont was organized in 1941 and became an official fire district in 1948, according to its Facebook page. St. Clair County Council is responsible for appointing its board of directors under state law.
Renovations are underway in the North Wing of the Illinois Capitol.
In 2008, Jerame Simmons was charged with several offenses in Monroe County relating to a protection order filed against him by his wife. One charge related to the identity theft of a police officer. This was dismissed in exchange for a plea of ââguilty to a misdemeanor involving a breach of protection order.
In 2018, Jerame Simmons was placed under guardianship in St. Clair County Circuit Court for disorderly conduct resulting from an altercation with the manager of the Country Rock Cabernet strip club in Sauget.
The manager initially reported that Jerame Simmons pointed a gun at him and announced, “I am a police officer”, after the manager removed Simmons’ wife from the club for being disruptive. Authorities later believed the word that he was holding a vaping device in his fist.
Rosenkranz said he spoke out against Jerame Simmons for breaking safety rules while fighting the fires, but was told he had no power to reprimand or discipline him.
âThey took me out because they couldn’t control me when they were reckless, (like) skimping on equipment,â Rosenkranz said. “… I did my job, and I did it pretty well with what I was given.”