Elk Grove Village hires new fire chief

Elk Grove Village trustees on Wednesday named career firefighter Richard Mikel as the town’s new fire chief, replacing Acting Fire Chief William “Bill” Balling.

Mikel’s annual salary is $130,000, and his first day on the job is Aug. 13. He will be sworn in at the Aug. 14 village board meeting.

Balling, who was Buffalo Grove’s village administrator for 39 years before retiring in 2006, served as interim chief for a year. His consultancy firm was hired to assess the department’s needs shortly after the retirement of Fire Chief Dave Miller.

Mikel spent 26 years with the Naperville Fire Department, starting as a firefighter/paramedic and rising through the ranks to become the deputy fire chief of operations until his departure in 2010. He then became the deputy fire chief of administration for Downers Grove, where he served for two years.

Mikel was selected from a pool of nearly 50 candidates from all over the country. The selection process included interviews and a candidate assessment by the Illinois Fire Chief’s Association. James MacArthur, a former Elk Grove Village fire chief, volunteered his expertise to assist with the interview process.

“Rich brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, and leadership to our community,” Elk Grove Mayor Craig Johnson said in a news release. “Rich was the top choice for the interviewing team, and he was rated highest by the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association panel of experts.”

In Naperville, Mikel oversaw 192 employees and 10 fire stations and managed a departmental budget of $22 million. By comparison, Elk Grove’s fire department operates four fire stations with 90 firefighter/paramedics, with a budget of $12 million.

“Elk Grove Village is a great town with a strong pedigree of success, including being named ‘Best Hometown’ and also being recognized as a great place to raise a family,” Mikel said in a news release. “This is important to my wife and I. We truly look forward to making Elk Grove Village our hometown and raising our children here.”

Mikel earned a bachelor of science degree in fire science services from Southern Illinois University, and he is a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer Program from the National Fire Academy.

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