Previously convicted arsonist named acting fire chief of Metro East volunteer fire department


ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Ill. – There was a lot of emotion and high drama at the fire district board meeting in East Carondelet on Monday, when a convicted arsonist was named Acting Volunteer Fire Chief Prairie Du Pont in the County of St. Clair, Illinois.

The Board of Directors removed Chief John Rosencranz from his position and replaced him with Assistant Chief Jerame Simmons. Both were sitting at the same table when the change was made.

Board members said they had good reasons to make the change, but they did not make those reasons public.

That wasn’t good enough for all but their three firefighters.

One firefighter took off a fire brigade shirt and threw it at the fire district board of directors. A few minutes later, he set his tools down on the table in front of them.

Ten of the department’s 13 firefighters gave up on the spot. Jerame Simmons is the son of Herb Simmons, the longtime director of the St. Clair.

Jerame Simmons pleaded guilty to arson more than 20 years ago when he was 18 years old. He was accused of setting fire to an empty house and lighting another, smaller fire at Dupo High School. He was put on probation.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker pardoned him, he said.

“It was an amnesty. However, the town still remembers the school on fire,” said former fire chief Laura Rosencranz, wife of the former police chief. “The town misses the house on fire where we had firefighters fall and get injured.”

“I think it’s appalling and disgusting,” said former director John Rosencranz. “We will not have adequate protection here. It won’t be as it should be here. I’m a bit blind but no. I knew it was coming, but I didn’t expect it to come a few days before Christmas.”

Seven years ago, Rosencranz said his family lost their home to a fire over Christmas. The board did not give a reason for his dismissal, he said.

Directors of two neighboring divisions, Cahokia and Dupo, said they support the change and have full confidence in Jerame Simmons as acting director. They say he has been a dedicated volunteer firefighter at regional agencies for many years. They added that their divisions should help fill any gaps in coverage left by those resigning.

Rosencranz and his supporters plan to bring the matter before the St. Clair, on Monday night.

https://fox2now.com/news/illinois/previously-convicted-arsonist-named-acting-fire-chief-of-metro-east-volunteer-fire-department/ Previously convicted arsonist named acting fire chief of Metro East volunteer fire department

Huynh Nguyen

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