[cifnmedia] City of Chicago draws heat for canceling testimony from firefighters

  • From: Sean & Kimberly Aaron <cifn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: CIFN LIST <cifnmedia@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 23 Feb 2004 08:40:26 -0800 (PST)

City of Chicago draws heat for canceling testimony from firefighters 

  Sunday, February 22, 2004


(02-22) 13:14 PST CHICAGO (AP) -- 

City officials are being criticized for canceling the testimony of two 
firefighters before an independent panel investigating firefighters' response 
to a deadly blaze at a government building that killed six people. 

The city also has temporarily postponed testimony from four other firefighters 
and is refusing to turn over a full report on the blaze, raising questions 
about the city's willingness to cooperate. 

If the city stops cooperating, the panel may seek subpoena power. 

"I find it baffling that, in the midst of all the other issues the city is 
currently confronting, that they would want to take on an independent 
commission that's been created to get at the truth of what happened that day," 
said George Ellison, an attorney representing the commission. "The central 
question is, what is the city afraid of?" 

Six people died in a smoky stairwell during the Oct. 17 fire at the Cook County 
Administration Building in downtown Chicago. Their deaths have been labeled 
homicides because of the report's findings, which have not been released to the 

The panel, headed by a former appellate court judge, was formed to investigate 
the fire department's response to the blaze and determine why it took 90 
minutes for the victims to be found. 

Jennifer Hoyle, spokeswoman for the city's Department of Law, said the panel's 
interviews have become a drain on city resources. 

Hoyle said that, under union rules, if one person is missing from a Fire 
Department company, the whole company of four or five people cannot work 
because of the burden on the understaffed unit. 

"We had two interviews that were canceled," Hoyle said. "We had already done 18 
interviews and each time we do that, we have to pull a whole fire company out 
of service." 

Hoyle also said that some information about the fire should not be made public 
yet because it's the subject of a criminal investigation. 

According to a summary of the fire department's report, the fire was man-made 
but it is unclear whether the blaze was intentionally set. 


Sean A. Aaron (CIFN*1)
Central Illinois Fire Network

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