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The election of a convicted arsonist as the fire chief of an Illinois town has led to the mass resignation of group of firefighters and fury from the residents.
Ten of the department’s 13 firefighters quit Monday, with one throwing his fireman’s equipment onto the board’s table in protest, after Assistant Chief Jerame Simmons Sr. was elected chief of the Prairie Du Pont Volunteer Fire Department in Saint Clair County, according to Fox 2 Now.
Simmons, the son of long-time director of the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency Herb Simmons, pleaded guilty to arson more than 20 years ago when he was just 18.
‘All of our houses could burn down!’ one woman lashed out during Monday’s meeting after the ten firefighters quit.
‘I’ve never seen anything like this,’ a man who identified himself as a retired firefighter told the board.
The now 41-year-old fire chief was accused of setting fire to a vacant home and setting another, smaller fire, at Dupo High School in 1999.
An Illinois volunteer firefighter dumped his helmet, jacked and other heavy gear on a table during a heated board meeting Monday night about 10 miles outside of St. Louis.
“Here’s my kit,” the firefighter told members of the Prairie Du Pont Fire Protection District board of trustees. He was among the bulk of the department’s 13 volunteer firefighters who resigned after his chief in St. Clair County, Illinois, near the Mississippi River, was replaced by a man previously convicted of arson.
Captain Laura Rosenkranz, who also resigned her, told the board that her decision was unacceptable. She is married to John Rosenkranz, the boss who was replaced Monday without explanation.
Jerame Simmons, the deputy chief of the fire department, was put in charge as acting chief. The board of trustees wrote in a statement released after Monday’s meeting that “a change in leadership of the Fire Department is needed,” adding that it has full confidence in Simmons’ ability to lead the department.
- A convicted arsonist was voted as an Illinois town fire chief, and a group of firefighters quit on the spot in disgust after his election on Monday
- Ten of the department’s 13 firefighters quit, with one throwing his fireman’s equipment onto the board’s table in protest
- The outrage came after Assistant Chief Jerame Simmons was named chief of the Prairie Du Pont Volunteer Fire Department in Saint Clair County
- The now 41-year-old fire chief was accused of setting fire to a vacant home and setting another, smaller fire, at Dupo High School back in 1999 at the age of 18
- He ultimately served four years of probation and was later pardoned by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker
- ‘All of our houses could burn down!’ one woman lashed out during Monday’s meeting. ‘I’ve never seen anything like this,’ a retired firefighter told the board
- Eight of ten resignations submitted a letter to the board Monday announcing that they were leaving their positions ‘with regret and sorrow’
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