New Illinois bill would require firefighter applicants to disclose if they have an arson conviction
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - A group of downstate representatives introduced a new bill in response to the controversial pardon of a convicted arsonist by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
House Bill 5693 requires anyone applying to become a firefighter to disclose whether they've ever been convicted of arson.
It comes after Pritzker's pardon of convicted arsonist Jerame Simmons, who became Fire Chief of the Prairie Dupont Volunteer Fire Department.
Simmons admitted to burning down a house and trying to burn down a high school back in the late 90s.
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"If you plead guilty, you're admitting, ‘Yeah, I did that.’ You plead guilty to arson, and then you become fire chief. It absolutely floors me that this can happen," said Rep. Mark Luft. "Pritzker's pardon is a slap in the face to all the honest, hardworking firefighters throughout our state who put themselves in harm's way every day."
After Pritzker's pardon, Simmons became fire chief, which prompted the resignation of nearly a dozen firefighters on that department.