Founded upon the principle of providing emergency service agencies with quality legal services, Ottosen Britz Kelly Cooper Gilbert & DiNolfo, Ltd. is dedicated to representing fire protection districts, municipal fire and police departments, and emergency dispatch centers. Our clients include fire and police commissions, public pension funds, 9-1-1 centers, emergency telephone systems boards, ambulance services, and rescue squads. Today, we represent over 200 emergency service agencies, and our attorneys are highly regarded throughout the state and nation in this area of the law. Our depth of experience gives us a clear understanding of the complex issues facing providers of emergency services.
We are proud of our representation of statewide and regional public safety organizations such as the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System, the Illinois Public Safety Agency Network, the Illinois Chapter of the National Emergency Number Association, the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association, the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance, and the Northern Illinois Alliance of Fire Protection Districts. We have also served as special counsel to many municipalities and fire protection districts when complex issues are beyond the expertise or resources of local counsel.
Issues Unique to Public Safety Entities
We have experience in integrating units of local government to create consolidated fire districts and intergovernmental agreements for fire, police, and ambulance services. We participate in firefighter and police disciplinary
hearings on a regular basis either as the prosecuting attorney or as attorney for boards of commissioners. OTTOSEN BRITZ has negotiated contracts specific to public safety, including those involving pre-emption control devices, emergency dispatch equipment and software, emergency vehicles and specialized equipment, and fire alarm systems. We are frequently asked to provide legal opinions on Fair Labor Standards Act issues relating to employment compensation and work schedules of firefighters and police officers. With our extensive background in defending public entities in emergency response cases, our attorneys help clients proactively train their public safety employees to avoid liability.
The laws regarding the hiring, promotion, and discharge of employees in emergency service agencies are complex and evolving, and members of our firm understand the latest trends and precedents. We advise clients on new testing
procedures, background and psychological factors that affect new candidates’ fitness for duty. Our attorneys are also experienced with the emerging concerns regarding how a dismissal affects potential applications for workers’
compensation and disability pension benefits. Our attorneys offer guidance on how the Public Employee Disability Act and the Public Safety Employee Benefits Act affect benefits available to firefighters and police officers.
Our attorneys are well-versed on federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, as well as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. We have represented public bodies in federal court actions under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and before administrative agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Illinois Department of Human Rights. We are often asked to provide risk management training to avoid problems involving sexual harassment, violence in the workplace, emergency response documentation, and personnel management.
Several of our attorneys participate in collective bargaining negotiations with public safety employees and their labor unions. We have pursued and defended unfair labor practice charges, addressed representation issues, and defended complaints before the Illinois Labor Relations Board. When contract disputes arise, we zealously advocate our clients’ positions in grievance and interest arbitration proceedings.
Emerging Issues and Legislative Initiatives
In addition to working with numerous public safety related organizations on their legislative initiatives, we maintain a working knowledge of pending legislative issues. Our input into the legislative process in Springfield and Washington, D.C. helps develop thoughtful initiatives to improve Illinois public safety law.