The Elgin Fire Department will have a new chief starting next year.
John Fahy, a 23-year veteran of the department, was announced Friday as the new head of the 136-person staff of fire and emergency personnel. He replaces John Henrici, who retired in November after a 50-year career in fire service and two separate stints as Elgin's chief.
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Fire Department Battalion Chief Terry Bruce, a 32-year fire department veteran, also applied for the job.
Fahy becomes chief Jan. 3, with a formal swearing-in ceremony scheduled for Jan. 7 at the Centre of Elgin.
Fahy said he credits Henrici as a mentor who encouraged him to apply for the job and noted five other members of the department have gone on to become chiefs during Henrici's 24 years in Elgin.
"My priorities and his priorities are similar," Fahy said. "The safety of the citizens has to be first and foremost in anything you do as fire chief."
Fahy will step down as president of the Elgin Association of Firefighters Local #439, a post he's held for five years. He also decided this year not to seek another term on the Kane County Board when he received a promotion in the fire department from lieutenant to captain.
He has pointed to his time as a board member in giving him a panoramic view of how government works.
"There's no benefit in one department pointing the finger at another department," Fahy said. "Our citizens expect our government to work on the whole. I got a lesson on how needs are great and resources are not so great, and you have to be able to balance that."
City Administrator Sean Stegall, who was responsible for appointing Fahy, said Fahy's experience made him a good fit for his new role.
"Over the years, both here at the city as a firefighter, lieutenant, captain and head of the union and Kane County Board member, John has demonstrated the willingness to lead. For that reason, I think he's the perfect person to lead the fire department into the future," Stegall said.
Fahy said the fire department has dealt with economic challenges well by making adjustments, such as creating a "jump company" of firefighters at one station who alternate between vehicles.
The department has also has signed mutual aid agreements with departments of South Elgin, Rutland Dundee, West Dundee and East Dundee. Fahy said he expects more sharing of resources among area departments.
He also said he wants to increase the department's number of paramedic vehicles, since 85 percent of what the department does is provide emergency medical service.
As a West Dundee resident, Fahy will have 18 months to move into Elgin, which is required of the chief but not other fire personnel. That could be extended to 24 months upon written request to Stegall.
Fahy will keep the same $150,687 annual salary as Henrici.
New: Chief has 18 months to move to Elgin