Chicago firefighters protest over issues with promotional exams

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CHICAGO — Some Chicago firefighters spent Wednesday morning marching to the city's Public Safety Headquarters.

Their signs displayed their frustration after an exam, used to select new Lieutenants & Battalion Chiefs, was canceled in the middle of it.

Computer glitches with a third-party City vendor forced the cancellation of exams, which is costing city taxpayers millions of dollars in overtime. Last week’s failed attempt to test 1600 Chicago Firefighters for promotions is bringing frustrations to a boiling point.

“The first two sessions they said be prepared, it could be as long as seven hours. For some people it was 12 hours. Ridiculous,” said Jim Tracy from the firefighters union.

Firefighters said there has not been an opportunity to take a promotional exam since 2009. They said there has not been a good explanation.

“That’s what we are all wondering," said Michelle Graver. "We don’t know why it’s so difficult to give an exam.”

About 100 current and retired firefighters walked with picket signs that gave the city an "F-" grade.

Union Local 2 said the fire department is down 400 firefighters, captains, lieutenants and chiefs, and that shortage is forcing others to work long shifts to keep the city covered.

“What it does is put additional stress on the membership trying to perform in these 24 hour shifts,"said retired firefighter David Quintavelle. "In addition it creates overtime, which if you were to hire, you would eliminate.”

The Chicago Fire Department said the city is working closely with the vendor in order to resume the exam as soon as possible.

No future test dates have been announced.

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