Carol Stream battalion chief could be fired after board ruling

  • Now that the Carol Stream Fire Protection District Board of Fire Commissioners has upheld the charges against Battalion Chief Joseph Gilles, the commission must determine the penalty.

    Now that the Carol Stream Fire Protection District Board of Fire Commissioners has upheld the charges against Battalion Chief Joseph Gilles, the commission must determine the penalty. Photo by Safiya Merchant

 
Updated 10/16/2014 5:51 AM

The Carol Stream Fire Protection District Board of Fire Commissioners has upheld charges of misconduct against Battalion Chief Joseph Gilles.

The board's Wednesday evening decision brings an end to Gilles' monthslong disciplinary hearing. The backbone of the charges leading to the hearing rested on Fire Chief Richard Kolomay's allegation that the battalion chief failed to follow Kolomay's order to sign a performance improvement plan.

 

By not signing the plan, Gilles violated four district rules of conduct, according to the allegations.

Now that the board has supported the allegations against Gilles, the final task for the commission is determining the penalty, officials said Wednesday.

The chief has requested for Gilles to be terminated.

"The commissioners correctly sorted through the evidence to determine that Battalion Chief Gilles violated the rules of the district when he blatantly refused to sign the performance improvement plan and engage in remedial training," according to a statement from Kolomay's attorneys.

The plan outlines core issues with Gilles, including that he does not have the proper management and leadership skills, as well as seven goals for the battalion chief.

Along with the plan, the hearing also has focused on a 2012 incident during which a district paramedic responded to a woman who was choking on food. That woman was taken to the hospital and died three days later.

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Gilles's attorneys have previously suggested the battalion chief fell out of favor with district superiors when he was asked to investigate possible acts of negligence by the paramedic.

His attorneys also have argued that Gilles was never actually ordered to sign the plan, and that even if he was ordered, that order would have been unlawful.

According to board documents, some of the commissioners' findings included that Kolomay ordered Gilles to sign the plan, the "behaviors and deficiencies which the (performance improvement plan) sought to improve or remedy fell within the authority of Chief Kolomay as Fire Chief" and the PIP was a lawful order.

The commissioners also found that the plan was not in retaliation for Gilles's position concerning the 2012 paramedic incident for multiple reasons, including that if Kolomay wanted to "cover up" the incident, he would not have required an investigation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We are disappointed and we disagree with the ruling of the commission," said John Botti, one of Gilles's attorneys. "We'd like to thank the commission for their time and consideration as well as the attorney for the commission."

Both Kolomay's and Gilles's attorneys have been asked to prepare legal briefs for the commissioners on the issue of whether the district has the authority to enter an order of demotion, in lieu of termination.

Both sides will meet again on Nov. 19 at 4:30 p.m., when attorneys can present evidence in support of the penalty they are seeking for Gilles.

"Given the severity of misconduct at the battalion chief level," according to Kolomay's attorneys' statement, "Chief Kolomay and his attorneys intend to present evidence that the only appropriate penalty for Battalion Chief Gilles is termination."

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