Fire Department – Eliminate the Fire Commissary Contract

Savings: $2 million

Under the City’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the firefighter’s union, the City is required to “furnish to all uniformed members of the firefighting services . . . dress uniforms, work clothes, and protective clothing and gear, which shall be replaced at the City’s expense when worn out through normal use or destroyed or damaged beyond repair”.[1]

To fulfill this requirement, the CFD contracts with a third-party vendor, the Chicago Fire Commissary (CFC), which has been awarded this contract since at least 1997.  CFC distributes new and replacement uniforms and accessories to CFD members.  The table below shows the payments to CFC since 2004.


Payments to Chicago Fire Commissary















2011 (through August 24, 2011


Proponents might argue that this contract is unnecessary because most firefighters already receive a separate  annual uniform maintenance allowance of either $1,250 or $1,500, depending on the shift they work, which would cover most (if not all) of their annual uniform expenses. For example, police officers receive a uniform allowance but must purchase their own uniforms and equipment.  The proponents of this option would argue that there is no reason why the City should have to pay CFC to distribute uniforms and equipment to firefighters at no cost when firefighters receive an allowance for just that purpose. Opponents might argue that the allowance firefighters receive is meant to cover uniform cleaning costs, not the cost of the uniforms themselves.  Additionally, others might argue that this is just one component of the compensation that firefighters receive. Therefore, eliminating it would be akin to reduction in pay that these officers have negotiated in collective bargaining agreements, likely in exchange for foregoing other benefits.

Under this option, the City would eliminate Section 12.2 of the CBA and, consequently, terminate its contract with CFC.  From 2004 to 2010, annual payments to CFC have averaged just over $2 million.  Thus, terminating this contract could save the City $2 million in 2012. Implementing this option would require amendments to the City’s current CBA with the firefighters’ union.  This agreement expires on June 30, 2012.

Budget Details

Dept: Fire Department, 59 Bureau: NA
Fund: Corporate Fund, 0100 Approp Code: Material and Supplies, 0340
The appropriations are located on pages 186 of the 2011 Annual Appropriation Ordinance.


[1] City of Chicago. “Labor Contract between Chicago Fire Fighters Union, Local #2, International Association of Fire Fighters A.F.L.-C.I.O. – C.L.C and the City of Chicago, Illinois. July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2012.” Section 16.9. pg. 78.