"Chicago BC sleeps through fire."
A $119,064-a-year Chicago Fire Department battalion chief has been slapped with a 15-day suspension for sleeping through a South Side fire in June.
The embarrassing incident happened after a fire bomb was apparently thrown into a home in the 8900 block of South University.
Fire alarms sounded at Engine Company No. 72, 7982 S. South Chicago Ave. The 23rd battalion responded to the 4 a.m. call. When they got to the fire, they noticed that Chief DeKalb Walcott was not there to call the shots.
He was back at the firehouse, sound asleep.
Following strict guidelines in the union contract, Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford refused to identify Walcott, nor would he reveal what other sources confirmed -- that the suspension duration was 15 days.
Langford would only say, "The discipline process was followed and the member was suspended for an appropriate period. . . . The process involves a look at the charges, any mitigating circumstances, overall record and impact of the alleged offense. Also, the process is cumulative."
No one was injured and it was not an extra-alarm fire. Since there are "always at least two chiefs at a working fire," Langford has insisted that Walcott's absence had no impact on how the incident was handled.
"The guy could get into a traffic accident on the way, so the second chief takes over. The second chief handled the fire," he said in June.
Another source described a more chaotic scene. When firefighters arrived and realized their battalion chief was not there, the house was engulfed in flames and victims needed to be rescued, the source said. Radio calls went out to locate Walcott and a replacement battalion chief.
Walcott could not be reached for comment.
First of all, the guy didn't sleep through a fire. He slept through a station alarm.
Second of all, am I the only one that thinks a 15 day suspension is excessive? Like it or not, sleeping is allowed in the fire station and you can't really help what you don't hear in your sleep.