Mundelein fire chief taking new post with state group

Mundelein Fire Chief Tim Sashko will leave the department at the end of the week for a post with a statewide industry group.

Sashko, 56, will take over as executive director of the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association, an organization with which he's worked closely for years.

Sashko, who lives in Mundelein, came to the department as chief in 2007.

Before then, he'd spent his career with the Buffalo Grove Fire Department. He started there in 1979 as a paid-on-call firefighter and worked his way up the ladder, becoming chief in 2002.

Sashko recalled falling in love with the paramedic part of the job early on.

"No two days were the same," he said.

In 2006, during his time in Buffalo Grove, Sashko was named fire chief of the year by the state chiefs association.

In Mundelein, Sashko developed a community emergency response team for disaster planning and relief, helped rewrite the village's emergency operations plan and created the village's first citizens fire academy, among other accomplishments.

He also was instrumental in the acquisition and restoration of the village's first fire truck, an effort that coincided with the village's centennial in 2009.

Sashko also has spent time in Springfield and the nation's capitol on behalf of the fire department industry and has been a prominent advocate for public safety.

He called his 36-year career exciting.

"I've had opportunities to be with senators at the state level and meet a lot of dignitaries throughout my life, and work in Washington, D.C., a little bit," Sashko said. "Being a spokesperson for the Illinois fire service has been great."

Sashko was honored by the village board during its meeting Monday night. Among other accomplishments, Mayor Steve Lentz noted Sashko's promotion of countless blood drives through the years.

"He got me going every time," Lentz said.

Village Administrator John Lobaito praised Sashko for leaving the department in better shape than when he came aboard.

"I'll miss the counsel that you've given me," Lobaito said. "I want to wish you the best going forward."

A traditional walkout ceremony for Sashko will be held next week at the main fire station. It was delayed so that his two sons, who are firefighters in Mundelein and Naperville, could attend.

Deputy Chief Tim Leidig will serve as interim chief until a permanent replacement is named. Lobaito said he hopes officials will be able to make that decision by August or September.

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