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Illinois firefighters quit after once-convicted arsonist is made fire chief

The majority of the volunteer firefighters at department 13 in the Prairie Du Pont Fire Protection District in Illinois have resigned after the board of trustees named a formerly convicted arsonist as the new fire chief, ousting their previous chief without explanation in August.

A board of trustees meeting became heated when it met on Monday, as one volunteer firefighter from department 13 removed his fire department shirt, threw it on the table, followed by his gear, and resigned. He then walked out. The firefighter was the tenth member of the thirteen member department to resign in protest of the new fire chief, Jerame Simmons.

Simmons had been acting chief of the fire department at a surprise August meeting, in which former chief John Rosenkranz was removed as chief with no prior warning, Rosenkranz told the Washington Post.

The board of trustees announced on Monday after the explosive meeting it had decided to make Simmons the new chief. Simmons is a formerly convicted arsonist, who was found guilty of setting fire to ceiling tiles in his high school and to a nearby vacant home.

Simmons was later pardoned by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker. Wife of the ousted chief, fire captain Laura Rosenkranz, told KTVI, “It’s a pardon. Still, the town remembers the school being set on fire. The town remembers the house set on fire where we had firefighters fall and be injured.”

The board of trustees has yet to publicly cite a reason for the change in leadership. In a letter issued after Monday’s meeting, the board wrote, “In taking this step, the board does not act lightly. While the board appreciates the prior service of Chief Rosenkranz, it has become apparent to the board over the last few months that a change in the fire department’s leadership is needed.” Rosenkranz says he has never been given an explanation for his removal.

ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: MEAWW.COM

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Laura is a freelance writer out of Maryland and a mom of three. Her background is in political science and international relations, and she has been doing political writing and editing for 17 years. Laura has also written parenting pieces for the Today Show and is currently working on writing a collection of remarkable true stories about normal people. She writes for FBA because unbiased news is vital to unity, and readers deserve the facts free of opinion.

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