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05/12/88 the Village of Wheeling, v. the Illinois State Labor

May 12, 1988





524 N.E.2d 958, 170 Ill. App. 3d 934, 120 Ill. Dec. 776 1988.IL.734

Petition for review of order of Illinois State Labor Relations Board.


JUSTICE LINN delivered the opinion of the court. JIGANTI, P.J., and McMORROW, J., concur.


The Wheeling Firefighters Association, a labor union (the union), petitioned the Illinois State Labor Relations Board (Board) for certification as the collective bargaining representative of certain employees of the Wheeling fire department. The union sought certification in a bargaining unit composed of all full-time fire department employees, including those employees holding the rank of lieutenant.

Following an administrative hearing, a hearing officer issued a recommended decision, in which he found the proposed bargaining unit to be appropriate and directed an election within the bargaining unit for representation. On review, the Board adopted the recommended decision of the hearing officer and upheld his direction of election. Following the representation election, the Board certified the union as the exclusive bargaining agent for the unit. The Board subsequently ordered the Village of Wheeling (Village) to bargain with the unit. The Village seeks administrative review of the Board's order, contending that the lieutenants are supervisory employees and, therefore, should not have been included in the bargaining unit.

We affirm the order of the Board.



The record shows that the Wheeling fire department consists of 41 employees: the chief, 1 captain, 1 fire inspector, 6 lieutenants, 30 fire fighter/paramedics, 1 fire fighter, and 1 secretary. (We will refer to the fire fighter/paramedics and fire fighters collectively as fire fighters, as did the hearing officer.) Four of the six lieutenants are also certified as paramedics. The fire department follows a paramilitary structure with a chain of command from the Chief down through the captain and lieutenants to the fire fighters.

The fire department maintains two fire stations. The main station, Station Number 24, stands adjacent to the Village's municipal offices. The main station contains the administrative offices of the chief, the captain, and the fire inspector, as well as a library and conference room. The substation, Station Number 23, stands approximately 1 1/2 miles from the main station. The floor space in each station is allocated similarly, including a lieutenant's office in each station. At the main station, the lieutenant's bunk is located in his office. At the substation, however, the lieutenant sleeps in the bunkroom with the fire fighters because the lieutenant's office is too small to accommodate a bunk.

The lieutenants and fire fighters are continuously on duty at both stations. They are assigned to a 24-hour shift that begins and ends at 7 a.m.; each shift is on duty for 24 hours and then is off-duty for 48 hours. The normal staffing level for each shift at both stations is five fire fighters and one lieutenant. The minimum staffing requirement at the main station is five and the minimum at the substation is three. In both instances, the lieutenants are counted for the purpose of meeting the minimum staffing requirement.

The chief of the Wheeling fire department is Bernhardt Koeppen. He was appointed by the village manager with the approval of the board of trustees. Chief Koeppen reports to the village manager regularly. The chief typically works from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. As head of the fire department, the chief is responsible for its administration. He directly supervises the captain, the fire inspector, and the secretary, all of whom report to him. The chief usually does not deal directly with either the lieutenants or the fire fighters; rather, he generally relies on the chain of command. The chief rarely responds to emergency calls. When he does respond, he usually does not take an active command role.

Directly below Chief Koeppen in the chain of command is Captain Ralph Perricone. Like the chief, the captain works from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The captain assumes the chief's responsibilities in the chief's absence. He seldom visits either station on weekends. His duties include assisting the chief in the daily administration of the fire department and in the planning and directing of fire fighting and emergency rescue services. As the department's training officer, the captain establishes training procedures that the lieutenants use to train the fire fighters. Captain Perricone also prepares periodic activity and productivity reports as well as yearly budget proposals. The captain additionally meets with building and sprinkler system contractors to approve building design specifications and sprinkler systems.

The six lieutenants in the fire department report directly to Captain Perricone; he evaluates them every six months. Each lieutenant serves as shift commander at one of the two stations; five or six fire fighters report directly to him. The lieutenant is responsible for the condition of the station, equipment, and personnel assigned to the shift. He also must enforce department regulations and ensure that the fire fighters under him are adequately trained and prepared to perform in an emergency.

During the daytime hours, the fire fighters and lieutenants perform various tasks while waiting for emergency calls. The lieutenant assigns the tasks, based upon a system agreed to by the fire fighters on that shift. The fire fighters usually inspect the emergency equipment and perform housekeeping and maintenance tasks. The lieutenants perform administrative work, e.g ., complete reports and special assignments, and prepare for training exercises written by the captain. The fire fighters and lieutenants together perform the training exercises. After 4:30 p.m., the fire fighters and lieutenants eat dinner and relax at the station. The lieutenant may spend several evening hours completing paperwork in his office.

Emergency responses account for approximately 5% of the fire department's shift time. They involve primarily fighting fires and handling medical emergencies. The lieutenant assigns himself and each fire fighter to specific positions on the emergency apparatus. At an emergency call, the lieutenant is usually the engine company officer. A "company" refers to the personnel assigned to a vehicle, generally three persons to ...

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