Buffalo Grove names longtime Elgin fire official as deputy chief

Buffalo Grove has hired a 35-year veteran of the fire service as its new deputy fire chief.

Fire Chief Terry Vavra introduced William “Mike” Baker to the village board at this week's meeting, where he and the board also said goodbye to three longtime firefighters.

Baker, who will make in the neighborhood of $120,000, joins the department Nov. 25. He worked for the Elgin Fire Department for 27 years, retiring as an assistant chief, before taking on interim deputy chief duties in Streamwood.

“I'm looking forward to the next step in my career, here with Buffalo Grove,” Baker told the village board at this week's meeting.

As an instructor for the Elgin Regional Fire Academy, which trains more than 80 different departments throughout Northern Illinois, he had plenty of contact with Buffalo Grove's firefighters, ranking them within the top 10 percent seen at the academy.

“The reason that this job attracted me was because of the quality of personnel that came through that academy,” he said. “This community, this village and this fire department made a lasting impression on me.”

Baker was hired by the Elgin Fire Department as a firefighter/paramedic in 1985. In 2004, he was promoted to assistant chief. He developed the Saving Our Seniors Smoke Detector and Company Officer Succession training programs, was American Legion Firefighter of the Year in 1989 and won the EMS Leadership Award in 2006.

Vavra said Baker had been one of the final candidates for chief in Streamwood, where he helped with the organizational structure and helped the new chief develop personnel.

The retirees who were honored were Deputy Chief Doug Postma, Battalion Chief Joe Wieser and Lt. William Kent Brecht.

Postma became a full-time member of the fire department in 1983 and became deputy chief in May 2011. Wieser served the village from 1977 to 1981 as a paid-on-call member of the fire department, becoming a full-time member in 1981, and being named battalion chief in 1992. Brecht was a paid-on-call member from 1986 to 1988, before becoming full time. He was promoted to lieutenant in 2002.

Vavra said that since July 2011, retirements have resulted in the loss of 479 years of experience. On Monday, he noted, the village was recognizing 87 years of experience.

“If we hired people to replace them, they would have to be 35 to 40 years old each just to have the life experience to match the work experience that we have lost.”

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