Moonlighting in Chicago

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07/25/2008
Just spoke with the Larry Langford, Chicago Fire Department public information officer, about the eight fire inspectors who were moonlighting on weekends inspecting fire-sprinkler systems in high-rise buildings. The allegation is that building owners were paying these inspectors above and beyond what the city pays them for conducting these inspections on weekends. The building owners were doing this because the testing involves a loss of water pressure, something they’d rather not have happen during the workweek. Why is this all so bad? Langford explained that the building owners pay a fee to the city that covers the cost of the inspections and that if they want to arrange to have an inspection done on a weekend, there is a legitimate way to do this working with the city. “Someone could be scheduled to work on a Saturday, and if there is great demand we could establish a regular Saturday shift. [What we] can’t have is people freelancing and setting their own rates for city services,” he said. The fact-finding part of the investigation, which was launched by Fire Commissioner Raymond Orozco, is complete, and the disciplinary measures will be announced within the next 10 days or so. Discipline could range from “a verbal reprimand to termination, but the commissioner made it clear that if the facts bore out the allegations, that the discipline would be toward the severe end,” Langford said.