While Mayor Hermanek wrestles, once again, with the challenge of finding suitable candidates for the positions of fire chief and deputy fire chief, North Riverside’s firefighters remain baffled as to why we have not yet received a call. 

For years the practice has been to fill the top job vacancies from within the department. The results of that practice have been excellent, with fire chiefs and deputy fire chiefs who have served with honor and distinction. 

Now, all of a sudden, this practice is no longer valid? It is still used through the village of North Riverside. Police department? Yes. Village hall? Yes. Public works? Yes.  

Mayor Hermanek has chosen to go outside of the fire department for his chief candidates, and the resulting firings and controversies have stained the reputation of a proud fire department while causing North Riverside’s residents unneeded concern and anxiety. 

We encourage Mayor Hermanek to return to the practice of promoting current fire department personnel to the positions of fire chief and deputy fire chief. 

The firefighters of North Riverside have served the village for an average of 20 years. We have been subjected to rigorous cognitive and physical examinations and medical and psychological assessments, including polygraph tests and police background checks, all for the privilege of working for North Riverside. 

We have also attained the highest levels of fire department training and certifications. Most members have certifications and degrees that have not been seen in past chiefs’ resumes. The argument that time on the job and experience makes up for some of that comes to mind.  Please see the “average of 20 years” stated earlier. 

In other words, the screening and review process for the position of fire chief and deputy fire chief has been completed for Mayor Hermanek, and the results are in — the most qualified candidates already work for the fire department of this great village. The investment has already been made into these individuals throughout their careers.

 Isn’t the running of a village department dedicated to the safety and service of the residents, workers, businesses and visitors of this “small village with a big heart” worth the best person for the job? 

I ask you, who better to know what North Riverside needs than somebody who has already been involved in serving this great community with 20 or more years of experience. 

The cherry on top of all of this, is an internal chief doesn’t come with a special line item in the budget for external fire chief search in this year of a $300,000 net loss in the budget. Mayor Hermanek, the firefighters of North Riverside await your call.

Chris Kribales

North Riverside

Ed note: Chris Kribales is a North Riverside firefighter and president of North Riverside Firefighters Union Local 2714.

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