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Phillips Esq.
Phillips Esq., Attorney-at-Law
Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  B.A.; M.B.A.; J.D.
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By Letter Employer documented that I have not participated

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By Letter Employer documented that I have not participated with work for some time and asked me to choose how I decide how I would stay employed - I documented that the employer had violated OSHA by not supplying PPE to participate with work by taking assigned PPE and ignoring my requests for its return for the stated time they said I have not participated as well as expanding what they now consider things I should be doing that I was previously told not to do in writing. Employer has blamed me for not attending training that I was never advised about or provided for by management. Employer has also stated that they want me to do things outside the scope of employment liability such as use my personal vehicle to respond to fire investigations - a violation of many out of town team SOG's. Employer has also intentionally selected lessor-trained employees for assignments that I once did such as code enforcement inspections. I have paid for my own training because of their denial to provide training for years. Employer response to my letter is that they prefer to have a personal meeting. Here devoid of documentation of this new meeting that they have not scheduled should I wait for management to contact me to set a date for this meeting or initiate on my own and should bring a lawyer with me. (Non-union shop - paid-on-call fire investigator) I stand to lose benefits for time in service as well as job.




copy of the letter - that I sent -- I left out info that I ws saving for additional communcations with them--


they asked for the email evidence - I sent it - it proves no comm since 2010 for trainings and meetings


July 24, 2013


Hello Richard,


Great HR letter - very well written.


A few months ago, Chris asked me how things were so I told him – not sure if it got through the grapevine or not but here goes …


You are aware:

The department has not provided or paid for direct fire investigation education and training for me (other than meetings) for over seven years generally by denial and that I have paid for all of my own education and training (thousands of dollars including a BS in Fire Service Management) to recertify as a fire investigator for the department effective through 2015 – my planned retirement year upon notice from the state of non-certification. I spent my own money that the department was to spend in good faith for continued employment and to continue to be able to provide fire investigation services for the communities.


In addition, I had to spend time with Chicago OFI to get the fire investigation call numbers I needed to meet all requirements. Those certs that you have me listed for on the wall are all paid for by me such as the Juvenile Fire Setter cert that was all on my dime with no expenses reimbursement except for FF2 and the few other in house trainings. Fire Investigation Training is very expensive. Moreover, trainings during academic semesters I cannot attend – PSC professor have no vacation days and only two personal days a year – the sick days require a doctors not over two – because classes are canceled and there are no substitute teachers at PSC. I was able to do the week-long forty-hour PD Evidence Tech training because my classes and actual class time balanced as well as the location drive times but the Adv CFI training week long training was and is a no go because there is no balance and the drive time was too great between work and the training place.


Fire Investigations has evolved during my tenure to an Officer and Chiefs endeavor and are considered HAZMAT by the State and ATF so why would I not have the required PPE? Risk for suppression teams and investigation teams are not the same. Preparing a case for court embraces an additional different mindset whether that case gets to court or not, you cannot go back and do it over it has to be right the first time.


My PPE/Bunker gear was taken around three years ago – as such, you know that I know that it is illegal under OSHA rules etc., to make entry immediately after the structure fire suppression activity without appropriate PPE.


When available for calls I cannot and have not been able to show up for any in-town fire call knowing there is no bunker gear (PPE) over the course of these years still I am still waiting for bunker gear (PPE). As well as having a minitor issue.


On out-of-town investigation calls, I can be given non-entry tasks because most out of town investigations in general are not immediately after the fire was extinguished or I am sent home for not having appropriate PPE (I have been sent home in the past for that reason).


This information is not in from the dark – you were notified a couple of years ago – I remember the last time I saw gear in locker 25 was when I showed up to go on a call and it was gone you said that you had to use it. Then on another call, the gear was still gone – after that call with you in the room - Donna said she had it. I was promised its return but there has been no gear in locker 25 since as I have checked on any call that I showed to go on.


I am a POC and have a full time job that has recently demanded more of my time than it used to – as noted by how many other science Professors are on other POC fire departments – I did enjoy years of extra off campus time but that has changed but not completely extinguished.


I also serve as a member of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary with many Division 095-35 and Flotilla 095-35-01 Staff duties. I certainly hope that my service time and work time is not held against me. Of course, one must also sleep.


Time flux is a part of life but to be handicapped by the department then blamed for it is not should not be a part of life but I have prepared for it because it was eminent several years ago and I did not stay silent I notified when appropriate and all as usual is forgotten.


Task Force and Teams: (nothing is as is was years ago – especially after 2008)

As for the Task Force, you and Al, and others were made aware that I am not qualified to be a member because I am not FF3 and soon they want only FO1, therefore, I should not be attending their training (which has been cancelled a lot). I explained this to the chiefs just after my last documented Task force Training.


As for the Team – Team communications have always been an issue. I have received one communication over the past the three years. This information has been provided to you many times over the past few years. A few years ago, Mr. Allison told me that I was not on the team – then no real reverse information has been given. The last team call out I went on – the double fatal in the heights – Lynn W. told me that the majority of call outs are just Mike Bacon and him showing up. I receive no team emails or responses from Mike Bacon. I have called, texted and emailed Mike and I have received no responses.


Therefore, receiving no communications and have no clue about where or when training is held I can only assume the team is doing nothing about training and meetings.


The Last SSFITF meetings it was announced that the SSFITF and MABAS 27 team information and communication would be top down – Chief to CFI only – this information was passed along by me. I did receive your one email about a meeting in Beecher and I do receive meeting/training cancelations by tone-out. I do not receive information about meetings and trainings throughout the year and I have never received information from AL from this Chief to CFI only format that the Teams are using.


As for responding to “smoke” I was told by you when Chris left that I could only show up for and be paid for confirmed structure fires and I have maintained complete employee compliance with your rules by not showing up for calls other than confirmed structure fires when I am available (requires PPE). If the rules have changed, I have been provided no notice of this change.


I am not even going to address any notion of anyone responding in their PV – it is flat out too stupid from all aspects of liability, a health hazard and violates external SOG’s.


I understand your need to throw the hammer down – however, your hammer must have the appropriate departmental support that it does not; years of no PPE provided and no training and/ or education provided and no SSFITF and Team chain of command communications certainly weakens the hammer.



I have no clue and have been given no plan of action or managed employment strategies on how the department wishes to manage aged educated bureau personnel in others words if the employee is ignored then why be surprised when the employee is not and cannot be engaged.

How and why would I show up as a POC devoid of PPE to any in-town investigation?


It is most unfortunate that the patterns of human behavior often reveal disparate treatment as a sequel of events often must always be brought to failure before a change is made.


I’ll await your bureau fire investigation personnel compliance, support and training action plan so that I may comply as a POC volunteer fire investigator.


Thank you,

Dr. Reuben E. Barrett, DC, JD, CFI, CHMM




Thier response:

After consulting with Chief Stoffregen and Mike Bacon, we are looking at your reply very carefully and would prefer to meet in person.  In the meantime, I need one thing from you- copies of sent emails to Bacon, and if possible, text messages.



DC Atwood



I sent the emial listings that showed no Comm


Thank you for giving me the opportunity to assist you. Kindly use CONTINUE or REPLY button to ask for clarification or follow-up questions.

Here devoid of documentation of this new meeting that they have not scheduled should I wait for management to contact me to set a date for this meeting or initiate on my own and should bring a lawyer with me. (Non-union shop - paid-on-call fire investigator) I stand to lose benefits for time in service as well as job.

Response: You should initiate the meeting on your own and bring your own Attorney to the meeting since you stand to lose benefits. You do not want to go to any meeting set up on this issue without an Attorney present. This would be an Attorney who handles labor and employment issues. You can use the following sites to find local labor and employment Attorneys:

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