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3 High-Ranking Fire Department Officials Ask For Demotion, Including One Who Sources Say Was Twice Denied Boarding On A Plane Because He Was Drunk

CHICAGO (CBS) -- In a shakeup within the Chicago Fire Department, three high-ranking officials are asking to be demoted.

One of them is at the center of a November incident at Midway International Airport that we first reported. Sources said James Corbett was denied boarding a flight not once, but twice at the airport because he was drunk and disruptive.

As CBS 2's Charlie De Mar reported Tuesday night, Corbett is the District Chief for the Safety Division at the Fire Department. But on Wednesday, he will drop down to his former rank of battalion chief – he asked for the demotion.

Corbett is the same high-ranking CFD official under investigation as we reported earlier. Sources told the CBS 2 Investigators that on a November day, he was turned away from a flight at Midway – not allowed to board the flight because he was intoxicated and disruptive.

Corbett left Midway, but sources said he returned to the airport sometime later and was dropped off in front – this time wearing his department uniform. Wearing the uniform is against policy when not on duty or representing the CFD, which Corbett was not at the time.

Instead, sources say Corbett was denied from boarding a second flight, again on the grounds that he was intoxicated and disruptive.

In his current rank, Corbett is an exempt employee. He receives an annual salary and is not shielded by the union.

But when he is reassigned to battalion chief - that self-demotion for which he asked – Corbett will enjoy the protections of the union.

Two other exempt CFD officials are also asking to be reassigned to lower ranks.

Barry Garr is now Assistant Deputy Fire Commissioner for the Bureau of Operations, but he too will drop to the rank of battalion chief. So will Deputy Fire Commissioner for Operations Timothy Sampey.

A spokesman for the Fire Department said it is not uncommon for exempt members to seek and request voluntary demotions to maximize retirement benefits.

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