East Chicago Settles OSHA Violation After Children's Home Fire
Department changes put the city's response to the 2021 Carmelite Home fire in violation of state safety regulations.
By: Local 365 PAC
EAST CHICAGO, Ind. - Feb. 27, 2023 - PRLog -- On January 23, 2023, the city of East Chicago settled a Safety Order and Notification of Penalty issued by the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration for violating the OSHA Respiratory Protection standard during the May 16, 2021 fire at St. Joseph's Carmelite Home for children in crisis.
The settlement comes after the East Chicago Fire Department (ECFD) sustained several department changes by Mayor Anthony Copeland resulting in decreased staff and a station closure. "Mayor Copeland's mismanagement of department resources is a threat to public safety," said Dave Mata, President of East Chicago Professional Firefighters Local 365. "Without proper staffing, we can't respond to calls in compliance with OSHA's safety regulations. This puts both the public and public servants at risk."
OSHA's Respiratory Protection standard is commonly known as the two in/two out rule. "It's basically the buddy system for entering a burning building," Mata explained. "If someone is trapped inside, one performs the rescue, one watches their back, and two more outside are on standby in case the two inside need help. But during the Carmelite Home fire, we simply didn't have enough staff to comply."
While the Safety Order was issued on November 1, 2021, the city appealed the order and objected to the Local 365's party status as representatives of the fire department. "That's why this has taken so long," said Mata. "He's stalling. Mayor Copeland is up for re-election, and he doesn't want his cuts to look like they're compromising public safety."
In response to Mayor Copeland's actions toward the ECFD, the Local 365 filed suit against the city, winning in appeals court on December 21, 2022. The decision also concluded the city could not produce evidence that Mayor Copeland's changes to the ECFD cut costs.
About Local 365 PAC
Local 365 PAC is the Political Action Committee of the East Chicago Professional Firefighters Local 365, a 501(c)(5) organization and member of the International Association of Fire Fighters. Local 365 PAC is strategically focused on raising awareness and advocating in all aspects of public safety to ensure a safe East Chicago for its citizens.
For more information, visit www.iaff365.com.
Local 365 PAC
Dave Mata, President
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