Less than two weeks after stepping down as head of one of the nation's largest fire departments, former Chicago Fire Department Commissioner Robert Hoff has a new job -- in Carol Stream.
Hoff was hired Monday as the deputy chief of the Carol Stream Fire Protection District, which has a 15-square-mile coverage area that includes all of Carol Stream and parts of Bloomingdale, Winfield and Glendale Heights.
Members of the fire district's board of trustees voted 3-2 to hire Hoff, as part of a district leadership reorganization plan.
Hoff, 56, a third-generation Chicago firefighter, was appointed to the department's top administrative post by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley in June 2010. He stepped down Feb. 16 after a total of 35 years with the fire department, he said, to spend more time with family. But Hoff had also gone on record opposing new Mayor Rahm Emanuel's budget cutting plan to reduce fire truck staffing requirements from five firefighters per truck to four.
After the Carol Stream fire board approved his hiring, Hoff said in an interview that he's looking forward to his new role, which is less administrative than his previous job. There are more opportunities to work with younger firefighters and "pass on experiences" through training, he said.
Hoff and his new boss, Carol Stream Fire Chief Rick Kolomay, taught classes at the Illinois Fire Service Institute and Chicago Fire Academy, and they co-authored a firefighting training manual in 2003.
"I feel like I'm back in the mix," Hoff said.
Hoff was making $202,728 a year in Chicago. His salary in Carol Stream will be $115,000. He will be eligible for a district pension, have use of a district automobile, and must move within a five-mile radius of the district headquarters within six months of his first day, which is April 1.
Hoff will take the place of current Carol Stream Deputy Fire Chief Perry Johnson, who will fill the newly created civilian position of chief administrative officer. Johnson will oversee the district's fire prevention division and emergency operations center, and manage the district's financials, Kolomay said.
Trustees Jim Panopoulos and Karl Langhammer, who voted against the reorganization plan, said other candidates besides Hoff should have been considered.
"We're molding these positions to certain individuals," Panopoulos said.
Langhammer added, "In the spirit of equal employment opportunities, let's see what other candidates bring synergy to the department."
Kolomay said the reorganization plan was "designed around the needs of the district and not a certain individual."
"If I had to go through a search and had to choose from 100 candidates, as fire chief of this district, I am very confident that Mr. Hoff will do an outstanding job for our district and our residents," Kolomay said.