The Prairie Du Pont Volunteer Fire Department saw 10 of their 13 firefighters quit this week after a convicted arsonist was appointed acting fire chief.
KTVI reported that the Prairie Du Pont Volunteer Fire Protection District Board of Trustees fired the town’s Volunteer Fire Chief John Rosencranz on Monday night during a district board meeting.
They then replaced Chief Rosencranz with Prairie Du Pont Volunteer Fire Assistant Chief Jerame Simmons. While the board claimed that they had good reason to fire Rosencranz, they declined to reveal these reasons to the public.
Simmons’ father is Herb Simmons, the long-time director of the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency. He was a shocking replacement choice, given the fact that two decades ago, when he was 18 years-old, he pleaded guilty to arson charges related to him setting fire to a vacant home and setting a small fire in Dupo High School.
Simmons has since been pardoned by Democrat Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, but local firefighters are still fuming about a convicted arsonist being appointed as their fire chief.
“It’s a pardon. Still, the town remembers the school being set on fire,” said former Prairie Du Pont Volunteer Fire Captain Laura Rosencranz, who is married to the man who is now the former chief. “The town remembers the house set on fire where we had firefighters fall and be injured.”
Ten of the 13 firefighters in the department had submitted their resignations by the time the meeting was over.
“I think it’s appalling and disgusting,” the now-former Chief Rosencranz said. “We’re not going to have the adequate protection here. It’s not going to be as it should be here. I’m kind of blindsided but not. I knew it was coming, but I didn’t expect it to be a couple of days before Christmas.”
Rosencranz added that his own family lost their home in a fire on Christmas seven years ago.
The chiefs of two neighboring fire departments in Cahokia and Dupo have said that they support the change and are confidant in Simmons’ abilities as fire chief. They have also said that they will help fill the gaps caused by the resignations with members of their own departments.