Friess Seeks Transparency in Fire Department Hiring

SPRINGFIELD, IL…In response to recent reports of a convicted arson being made chief of a small-town fire department, State Representative David Friess (R-Red Bud) filed legislation to combat this type of oversight in the form of HB5693. The bill would make it so that a person applying for a position in a fire department or fire protection district, must disclose if he or she has been convicted, arrested, or charged with arson or other criminal damages by means of fire. Representative Friess spoke today on this bill:

“Illinois politics never ceases to amaze me. Last year Governor Pritzker pardoned a convicted arsonist and because of that, this individual was able to become chief of the Prairie du Pont Fire Department. I brought forth HB5693 to prevent this from happening. Local fire departments are an integral part of rural communities. If you appoint a convicted arsonist as fire chief, you are going to lose the faith and trust of your community. Case in point, eleven volunteers resigned following this appointment. This is very unfortunate,” said Rep. Friess.

The legislation was born, in part, thanks to this individual being pardoned last year by Governor J.B. Pritzker. It raises the question about the governor-appointed Prisoner Review Board which, for some time, has served with three vacancies and nine members who have not received Senate approval. Before his clemency, the individual in question had many other instances of run-ins with the police up until very recently, leaving the question, why would Governor Pritzker pardon such an individual.

 “It’s very unfortunate that the Governor would do this,” Rep. Friess continued. “It appears that political connections to the Governor were to play in this scenario and paved the way for this individual’s pardon. Despite discrepancies between what he claimed then and what he’s claiming now, it’s concerning the Illinois Prisoner Review Board would allow such an individual to be approved for clemency. Again, it’s unfortunate, and our communities have a right to know exactly who is going to be their fire chief,” concluded Rep. Friess.