After spending 36 years in the firefighting industry, including the last 11 as head of the Huntley Fire Protection District, Chief Jim Saletta is ready to call it a career.
Saletta, 62, has announced his intention to retire, effective Nov. 2.
"I've had a long career in fire service and I think it's time for me to move on," Saletta said, adding that he's giving someone new a chance to run the district.
His successor is yet to be named, but will come from the ranks of Huntley's fire district and be announced next week.
Saletta started his career as a volunteer firefighter in Pingree Grove in 1976.
He spent four years there, before moving onto Elgin. He retired from Elgin as deputy chief in 2001 and in October of that same year started as chief in Huntley. Saletta has led the fire protection district through Huntley's robust growth.
When he started, there were 21 full-time firefighters. There are now 55. The fire district includes Huntley, parts of Algonquin, Lake in the Hills and Hampshire, unincorporated territory in both Kane and McHenry County and nine miles of the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway.
"The growth was tremendous from 2001 to 2007 ... things have slowed up, but we're still growing," Saletta said, adding that responding to the growth will be one of the main challenges for his replacement.
As well, he's responsible for building a new training tower and adding a fourth station, which is LEEDS certified and located in Algonquin.
"Not everyone is progressive enough to think that's important, so yeah, Chief Saletta will be greatly missed," Huntley Village Trustee Pam Fender said.
The saddest moment came last April when Saletta's friend Huntley Capt. John Winkelman was killed in a motorcycle accident on his way home from a fire district communications meeting.
It marked the first line of duty death at the district since Saletta took over.
Saletta lives in Huntley and intends to stay in the village and help out with the new chief's transition.
His other plans post retirement include staying involved with fire service advocacy groups, teaching a class on fire service at McHenry County College and travel.
As for becoming a fire chief elsewhere, Saletta says it's been a great career but, "I'm done."