John Kiser was sworn in as North Riverside new permanent fire chief by Village Clerk Kathy Ranieri at the village board’s meeting on Sept. 4, closing a brief, turbulent chapter in fire department history.
The longtime Forest View resident and firefighter and former chief of operations for the Cook County Department of Homeland Security, Kiser took the reins of the department on Sept. 1.
Mayor Hubert Hermanek announced at the board meeting that Kiser will serve as chief until at least April 30, 2021, which aligns with the next mayoral election.
Kiser’s salary is $130,000, and he also will receive the same benefits – 16 vacation days, one sick day per month, a pro-rated number of personal days (three in 2018), and an option to participate in the village’s health/dental/vision insurance plan.
He replaces interim chief Scott Boman, who served in that position since July 13. His brief tenure came after the surprise termination of Chief Tom Gaertner and Deputy Chief Pat Schey.
Hermanek had conducted his search for the duo’s replacement in secret, and the change drew prompt criticism that climaxed on Aug. 13, the day Hermanek had announced as Boman’s swearing-in.
Protesters, in particular women, urged Hermanek to continue his search for a permanent chief in light of a decade-old sexual harassment lawsuit in which Boman, then employed in Oak Lawn, and other firefighters had been named as defendants and which the village of Oak Lawn had settled for $850,000.
Two weeks later, Hermanek announced he was hiring Kiser as the department’s new chief.
While Kiser’s hire ended that saga, the village administration and union firefighters are still in the midst of an ongoing labor dispute that is now in the hands of an Illinois Labor Relations Board arbitrator.