Former Chicago Fire Department commissioner named Carol Stream chief

A former Chicago Fire Department commissioner is poised to take the helm of the Carol Stream Fire Protection District.

The board agreed to appoint Deputy Chief Bob Hoff to the top post Monday night. Trustees are expected to approve a contract with Hoff at their meeting Monday, July 11.

Hoff will oversee a district with three fire stations and about 60 sworn employees.

"The pace was set here when I got here, and we're going to keep that pace up," Hoff said shortly after the promotion. "The pride and the professionalism that this group has - it's like when I was in the city. You talk about good, hardworking firehouses.

"Out of three firehouses we have here, they're all good and hardworking."

Hoff first joined Carol Stream in 2012 - less than two weeks after he stepped down as the head of the nation's second-largest fire department. At the time, he aimed to spend more time with family, but got the job offer to become deputy under his longtime colleague, former Chief Rick Kolomay.

Since, Hoff has been going out on calls, training firefighters and steering operations.

"I love the fire service," he said. "It's my whole life. It's my entire life other than my family."

Including his son, his family has four generations of firefighters.

"He inspires me," said Hoff, gesturing to a framed picture in his office of his father, a Chicago Fire Department battalion chief killed battling a blaze in an apartment building on Valentine's Day 1962.

Hoff was 5 years old at the time.

"To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die," reads a message below the image of his dad, Thomas, and his mom, Eleanor, who died eight years later.

Hoff has been a firefighter for more than four decades and moved to Carol Stream about four years ago.

"When I accepted the job as a deputy, I felt that my allegiance would be to live in the town I work in," he said.

The other finalist for the job was Perry Johnson, a 38-year veteran with the district. At the time of Hoff's hiring, Johnson, then deputy chief, moved to a newly created civilian position - chief administrative officer - overseeing district finances, among other roles.

Both Johnson and Hoff were interviewed separately behind closed doors with the board Monday night.

"They work so well together as a team, and they're going to carry on with that," Trustee Rick Fisher said.

Johnson and Hoff been handling the day-to-day operations of the district since Kolomay had shoulder surgery, went on paid leave and officially retired June 1. The two also have sat on the district's negotiating team in ongoing contract talks with the firefighters union.

Both sides are expected to meet with a federal mediator later this month. Pay raises are one of the issues that remain on the table, Hoff said.

Negotiators are considering increases that would align firefighters' salaries with those of employees in surrounding departments, Hoff said.

"I think it's all fixable and doable," he said. "I don't see any major issues."

The length of Hoff's contract will likely run three years. The board is still ironing out the terms of the deal, including Hoff's salary.

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