Federal Aviation Administration officials have proposed slapping Chicago’s Department of Aviation with fines totaling almost $1.3 million for allegedly violating aircraft rescue and firefighter training regulations last year.
Between April and August, three firefighters assigned to O’Hare Airport worked shifts on a turret vehicle when they had not completed the required training, according to a statement from the FAA. A Chicago Fire Department lieutenant allegedly falsified 13 training entries to make it seem he’d finished the training.
Additionally, a CFD captain at Midway Airport was assigned to a vehicle for two shifts when she had not completed the required training and accessed the airfield nine times without proper escorts or badges, FAA officials said.
The federal agency claims the city’s Aviation Department failed to ensure the fire department maintained the required training logs.
The city has already responded to the FAA complaints, and the proposed penalties could be reduced.
“The safety and security of our airports is our highest priority, and our track record of delivering more than 105 million passengers safely to their destinations every year speaks for itself,” city aviation officials said in a statement, calling the fire department “a vital partner in these efforts.
“Upon learning of these serious allegations, CDA immediately began working with the FAA and CFD to initiate a series of actions, including leadership changes and the retraining of [Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting] personnel to ensure all firefighters have the proper training and certifications to operate at the airports,” city officials said.
“Additionally, CFD training methods and record keeping practices have been overhauled to ensure those qualifications are tracked properly. This was all completed in 2019,” according to the city.
The allegations were also referred to the city inspector general’s office.