Andersen replaces Falardeau as Palatine fire chief
It was a bittersweet night Monday for the Palatine Fire Department as it said goodbye to longtime firefighter Robert Falardeau, but welcomed Scott Andersen as the new fire chief.
This week's village council meeting started with a declaration of appreciation for Falardeau, who was retiring as fire chief, ending his 31 years of service with the Palatine Fire Department. The council, along with the standing-room-only crowd of family, friends and colleagues, sent Falardeau off with a standing ovation.
Falardeau, who has served as fire chief for the past two years, said it was a pleasure to serve the people of Palatine and work with a team he called the best firefighters in the state.
"It's been a great experience to be a protector all these years," Falardeau said. "It's bittersweet, but after 31-and-a-half years, it's time to go."
Falardeau's departure meant the promotion of one his closest colleagues in Andersen -- a man he spent the last two years preparing for the leadership role.
Andersen said like his mentor, he never had the goal of becoming fire chief, but it is a responsibility he accepted with humility as he thanked all the firefighters in attendance for making it possible.
"I give you my word I'll do my best, and I'll be at it (Tuesday) morning," he said to the residents and firefighters in the crowd.
Andersen, a 20-year veteran, said the department is already down four firefighters, which is a noticeable absence, and budget constraints could mean more tough decisions. He said budget talks would begin soon and he said he was committed to delivering the same level of service regardless of the outcome.
A longtime colleague, Randy Freise, who has served the last two years as deputy chief under Falardeau, said he sees similarities in both chiefs.
"I still look forward to coming to work everyday," said Freise, a 28-year veteran, who credited the chiefs with making it a good place to work. "I have no doubt Scott will do a great job."