I don’t always agree with J.P.’s criticisms of IFPD, but his most recent opinion is one that has been ignored for years.

The administrative captain promotion was approved by the board in 2013 after over three years of internal debate, possible legal action against the department and too much of (the public’s) IFPD’s limited legal counsel dollars.

The promotion was discovered in a letter that only the person that filled the position had a copy of.

The promotion was made without board knowledge or authorization, by a fire chief, in a curiously worded letter, dated days before his retirement. No one else at the department was notified or allowed to apply for the new captain’s position, even those with more tenure and experience.

The next fire chief wrote a second letter referencing the first letter stating that it had now been approved by the career firefighters, once again without board direction or approval. Where was the authorization for a fourth captain?

Even more curious is that the position would cease to exist if he was promoted from admin[istrative] captain to a full fire captain and that no opening was created for his vacated engineer’s position.

The administrative captain has also become: career negotiating committee lead, payroll officer, budget committee lead, training officer, hiring committee lead, volunteer company liaison, and directs who is called first for fire assignments and overtime. Is it any wonder the admin[istrative] captain is the highest paid member of IFPD?

If you want to be hired, retired, promoted or go on fire assignments, all permission starts at his feet. He does it all. And for the past three years, IFPD, according to the outside audits (not the internal budget numbers given to the board as balanced), has been over budget in 2012 by $120,539, in 2011 by $191,424, and in 2010 by $436,333.

So why did the board approve it in 2013? Just like the bureaucrats do in D.C., it was packaged into something that the board really wanted; a revised contract with cuts and concessions from … the career negotiating committee.

The third fire chief, before he left town, advised the board to sign the new contract with admin[istrative] captain’s promotion approval contained in the middle of everything else.

Late that night it passed 4 to 1.

Dr. Charles “Chip” Schelly
Fire Commissioner