Longtime Omaha Public Servant Passes Away

By: WOWT Email
By: WOWT Email

The Omaha fire department is reporting the death of former Assistant Chief and Public Safety Director Bill McDonnell. McDonnell passed away Sunday morning at the age of 83.

He was the father of Omaha’s current Fire Chief Michael McDonnell.

McDonnell served the citizens of Omaha 40 years. After serving in the U.S. Navy in World War Two, McDonnell became a firefighter in 1949. A series of promotions elevated him to Assistant Fire Chief May 1, 1977.

He served as Public Safety Director from 1977 through 1981 then continued as Assistant Chief until he retired in December 1989.

The Omaha Fire Department credits McDonnell for working with the Nebraska Unicam to pass legislation that affected the work of Public Safety employees.

LB 27 required the amount of weekly work hours for paid firefighters to be reduced from 72 hours to 60 hours per week.

LB 137 created a minimum age for paid firefighters and police officers in Nebraska.

LB 257 allowed union firefighters and police officers to ask for arbitration when an agreement could not be reached between a union member and his employer.

In 2006, McDonnell was inducted to the State of Nebraska AFL-CIO Hall of Fame for labor leaders.

One of McDonnell’s other sons, John, is also currently a firefighter.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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