Riverside Village Manager Peter Scalera said last week that he hopes to hire a new fire chief by July 1.

A wide range of candidates – 55 in all – have applied for the job, Scalera said. The number includes current chiefs and “quite a few” retired chiefs as well as other high-ranking officers from other departments. There is one internal candidate for the position, said Scalera, who declined to name any of those seeking the post.

“The outside candidates range from people with some experience to many, many years of experience,” Scalera said. “We’re looking at someone with a good experience level, and they have to have experience dealing with a number of issues, including budgeting and personnel.”

While Riverside’s former fire chief, Kevin Mulligan, also worked as an officer in another fire department, Scalera said he would prefer the new chief to “do Riverside only. But I’m not going to restrict my search to that,” he said.

Scalera added that he envisions the new chief as “more of a part-time chief who can be here during the day.”

“One of the biggest challenges will be looking at the department and personnel and seeing if a reorganization is needed,” Scalera said.

The Riverside Fire Department is run unlike most departments in suburban Chicago. Apart from the salaried chief, firefighters are paid-on-call employees, meaning they respond to incidents when they happen.

Scalera said he hopes to have the field narrowed to 10 candidates soon. Then with the help of one current fire chief and one retired chief, Scalera will narrow that group down to five people, who will be interviewed for the job.

The top two or three finalists will then meet with other village department heads and members of the village board before a top candidates is chosen, Scalera said.

– Bob Uphues