Matthew Buckley, who has served as Riverside’s part-time fire chief since 2015, will assume the job on a full-time basis next month after he retires from his job as deputy police chief in the village of Lyons.
Buckley, 49, said his final day on the job in Lyons will be April 12, capping a 20-year career as a police officer there.
“It’s going to be tough,” said Buckley. “I love the aspect of law enforcement, and I had a lot of great opportunities in Lyons.”
Riverside Village Manager Jessica Frances said the decision to bring Buckley on full time as fire chief was an easy one. Buckley has been a member of the department for 30 years, starting in 1988 as a paid-on-call firefighter. He also at one time was a Riverside Public Works employee.
“We didn’t want to lose him full time to another community,” Frances said.
A lifelong Riverside resident, Buckley also has invaluable institutional knowledge, Frances said. He is familiar with running a department staffed by part-time firefighters, a fact of life that’s not as attractive to others seeking a chief’s job.
“Having that kind of insight, you can’t even put a value on it,” Frances said. “Making sure he’s here for the long term is important for the community.”
By taking on additional hours, Buckley’s salary as Riverside’s fire chief will increase from $86,223 to $105,855 annually. His office hours will be Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but he’ll be on call at all times.
In addition to more hours, said Frances, Buckley will take on more responsibilities. He’ll continue to serve as director of emergency management and assume enhanced risk management responsibilities as well as providing more input and management of capital projects related to public safety.
Riverside is in the midst of a comprehensive facilities survey, and the village’s police and fire facilities are likely to be key features of any facilities improvement plan in the future.
The village board will get an update on that effort in May, according to Frances.
Throughout his career as a police officer in Lyons, Buckley maintained a close relationship with the Riverside Fire Department. He was promoted to fire lieutenant in 1994 and captain in 2003.
In 2005, Buckley was named co-deputy chief, along with his brother, John, who is now chief of the southwest suburban Pleasantview Fire Protection District.
Buckley also holds a host of fire certifications, including for hazardous materials, arson investigation, vertical rescue and water rescue.
He has served as deputy police chief in Lyons since his appointment in 2014, amid a period of upheaval for that agency. The Lyons Police Department, which once employed nearly 30 full-time police officers, was pared down to just eight full-timers and supplemented by 12 part-time officers.
Buckley was a sergeant at the time of his appointment, leapfrogging two commanders, one of whom retired, the other returning to sergeant.
After being hired as fire chief in Riverside in 2015, Buckley moved to reorganize the command staff and stabilize a department that had seen the prior two chiefs fired.