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posted: 9/5/2012 2:34 PM

Elgin council member leaves fire dept. to join FEMA

He'll retire as Elgin fire lieutenant, stay on council

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  • Richard Dunne

    Richard Dunne


Elgin Fire Lt. Richard Dunne is retiring after 25 years of service to take a position with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Chicago.

Dunne, 51, said he will keep his position as an Elgin city councilman while working as fire program specialist for FEMA's region 5, which includes Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. Dunne was elected to a 4-year term on the city council in 2009.

The FEMA position will entail some regional travel, but Dunne said he was told that the somewhat flexible scheduling shouldn't interfere with his council duties.

His new duties will include administrative work related to the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, site visits to ensure that grant recipients are complying with the terms of their grants, and grant-writing workshops for local fire departments and rescue squads.

"I thought that it was time for me to move on from the fire department. It's a young man's game, and as you get older it does become a little more difficult," said Dunne, who is also studying for an MBA from Argosy University in Schaumburg. "A new opportunity presented itself to me, and I thought it was time."

Dunne said he applied for the position in February. His last day at the fire department is Sunday, and he will start his new job Sept. 10.

Information obtained from the city of Elgin after filing a request under the Freedom of Information Act shows that Dunne's current salary is $92,901; he will retire with a pension of $60,248 annually and will get an estimated vacation and sick time payout of $8,376. Dunne declined to say what his FEMA salary will be, but he said it will be less than his fire department salary.

Dunne was first hired by the fire department in October 1987 and later served as fire marshal. In 2010, he retired after 30 years in the Air Force Reserves. He worked for FEMA's fire grant program from October 2003 to September 2004 as part of an intergovernmental personnel agreement with the city of Elgin.

Thanks to that experience, Dunne later was able to secure several federal grants for the department, including one that allowed the hiring of three full-time employees, Assistant Fire Chief Dave Schmidt said.

"Rich will be missed, without a doubt. Rich a played a key role in many different aspects of the department throughout his career," Schmidt said. "He's very dedicated, very hard working. He's the type of individual that has the citizens, has the city in mind in a lot of the tasks that he does."

Dunne said he gave the city just less than two weeks' notice, but it didn't come as a surprise to Chief John Fahy, who had filled out some paperwork related to Dunne's job application. Fahy was not immediately available for comment.

Retiring: 'Rich will be missed, without a doubt'

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