Last week, it became official: Whatever fissures have existed in the Riverside Fire Department look as if they’ve been eliminated, and there’s now a clear direction forward.
On Dec. 3, the department’s new fire chief, Matthew Buckley, was sworn in alongside his new command staff, which includes Deputy Chief William Sherman and Battalion Chiefs Tom Bensfield and Kevin Kuratko.
The move established a clear chain of command from the top all the way to the station level. It also clearly indicates that the department has a succession plan in place — something that had been missing under the prior organizational chart.
All of the commanders have years — in most cases decades — of command experience. After five years of questionable morale within the department — an era that saw two chiefs terminated and two lawsuits filed against the village and department — things look to be on the right path again.
Buckley, in a recent interview, said that past quarrels are behind the department, and we believe him. If there’s anything you can say about Buckley, it’s that his No. 1 concern is about public service and public safety, and we can’t see him letting anything get in the way of that mission.
With the help of three chief-level commanders working together to support that mission, we can confidently say that Riverside’s fire department is a cohesive unit once more, and one that will continue to serve the residents of Riverside with distinction.