Eight inspectors from Chicago's Fire Prevention Bureau have been fired, and two others have retired, after being accused of accepting or facilitating cash payments in exchange for making weekend pump inspections at high-rises.
The decision to sweep out half of the 20-member pump section was made by newly appointed Fire Commissioner John Brooks after an internal investigation determined that the practice of accepting "several hundred dollars" for every weekend inspection has been going on for years.
Fire Media Affairs Director Larry Langford said the firefighters' contract allows employees eligible for retirement to take it, even after being accused of wrongdoing.
"They accepted money from sources other than their [city] pay. Some were facilitating it by scheduling inspections and making arrangements. Some were actually taking the money. . . . Whoever was scheduling them to work on weekends knew they weren't on the clock and that some other arrangement was being made," Langford said.
Fire pumps boost the water pressure to a level needed to operate sprinklers and standpipe systems that serve the upper floors of high-rises.
The equipment is inspected annually with a water-pressure test witnessed by a fire inspector. Building owners pay a $300 inspection fee and send a check to the Fire Prevention Bureau that is forwarded to the city's Revenue Department. Once the check is in, an appointment is scheduled. Individual inspectors do not handle money. Until recently, they did not work weekends.
The 10 inspectors are accused of conducting or arranging inspections on weekends, when the test that generates a heavy flow of water would be less disruptive.
Additional information provided by Sun-Times News Group
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