In addition to a change in the command structure of the North Riverside Police Department, there’s change coming to the village’s fire department as well.
On May 13, Mayor Hubert Hermanek Jr. will name Lt. Brian Basek as North Riverside’s next fire chief. Hermanek was sworn into office as mayor on May 6.
Basek will replace outgoing Chief Ken Rouleau, who is retiring after 36 years as a firefighter in North Riverside.
“Ken Rouleau has been a fine chief,” said Hermanek. “He has served the village very well.”
The 52-year-old Basek, who has 28 years of service with the department himself, is the senior-most firefighter in the department after Rouleau, said Hermanek, and has earned the title of chief.
“Brian Basek is enormously qualified to be fire chief in North Riverside,” said Hermanek. “He has my total confidence. He’s a stickler for detail and has conducted himself in highest manner.”
Being a North Riverside firefighter was programmed into Basek’s DNA. His father, Charles, served as a paid-on-call firefighter in the village from 1961 until his death in 2006. At the end of his tenure, Charles Basek was the department photographer.
Brian Basek’s brother, David, is division chief for the Tri-State Fire Protection District in Darien. Rouleau married their sister, Karen.
“I got it in my bones when I was a kid,” said Basek. “I was very fortunate to be in that type of environment.”
Basek started as a paid-on-call firefighter in 1981 and became a full-time employee in 1985. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1997.
“I feel very happy to have the opportunity to make a difference in the fire department,” said Basek. “My goals are to the best I can to have a structured, highly dependable fire department to provide service to the people of North Riverside.”
Rouleau, 58, maxed out his pension six years ago, but is not eligible to collect that pension until the age of 60. A key to walking away at this time, he said, was the ability to stay on as a village employee in a part-time role.
Hermanek confirmed that Rouleau will stay on board as a contract employee working about 20 hours a week, handling fire inspections and commercial building plan reviews. Rouleau said he has been handling those duties for the past couple of years.
In the past, those tasks were handled by the deputy fire chief. But North Riverside phased out its deputy fire chief about two years ago, when its most recent deputy chief, Rick Schoemer, retired.
According to Hermanek, the department will continue its policy of not having a deputy chief. Rouleau will be paid $40 an hour in his new role.
“There’s a lot of new building going up,” said Hermanek. “It’s a good way of saving money and keep [Rouleau] involved in the fire department.”
Rouleau will have a hand in plan review for Costco and other commercial structures expected to go up in the next couple of years. All commercial and multifamily residential building in the village is required to have a fire inspection annually.
With Basek’s promotion to chief, the department will elevate firefighter Russ Perez to the rank of lieutenant. Perez will be the department’s day lieutenant and will head up the fire prevention and training divisions, said Basek.