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Another Wauwatosa firefighter fights firing

CREATED Mar 11, 2014

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WAUWATOSA – Two former firefighters are locked in a battle with the City of Wauwatosa, still fighting their firings.

Tony San Felippo and Michel DeLisle were terminated by the Wauwatosa Fire Department in February.

"It's the greatest job in the world. You've got the greatest friends, a second family. It's everything to you," San Felippo told TODAY’S TMJ4.

San Felippo, an Army veteran, is a family man, who now stays at home with his young daughter.

For nearly nine years, he was a Wauwatosa firefighter.

However, a November 2012 coal fire at a Wauwatosa energy plant extinguished Tony's plans of a promising career.

“It was hot. It was at least 100, 100 plus degrees,” San Felippo explained.

“Plus, we had 60 to 80 pounds of gear on."

San Felippo claims he stayed in brutal conditions for eight hours, at times breathing in burning dust, coal particles, and toxic fumes.

“I asked if we should wear a mask.  We had our masks ready to wear. But we were told by command, "As long as you have your monitor on, Don't worry about it.’"

Soon after, Tony started wheezing.  Doctors eventually told him he had a serious lung condition called 'Reactive Airway Dysfunction.'

"It was probably the biggest heartbreak of my life is [the doctor] telling me I could not be a firefighter," San Felippo explained.

Doctors noted the illness was from exposure on the job, so San Felippo filed for disability pay.

The City of Wauwatosa, however, disputed those claims.

After countless delays, San Felippo and Michel DeLisle, another firefighter, were fired.

City leaders won't comment on the matter, telling TODAY’S TMJ4 state statutes prevent them from talking.

The firefighters argue another law, one meant to protect officers who suffer these injuries on the job, should do just that.

"What I would like to see is the right thing happen,” San Felippo said.

“This isn't just for me.  This is for every firefighter is Wisconsin."

Both firefighters will have to wait a month or more for a judge to decide what happens next.