Bartlett Fire Protection District Chief Michael Falese was named the new president of the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association during a ceremony in Peoria.
Falese is a five-year member of the association, in which he previously served as director and vice president. He will lead the association as president for one year.
"It's not about me," said Falese, who worked as chief of the Elgin Fire Department prior to his current job. "This is about an accomplishment for Bartlett Fire and I'm really excited to be able to serve even outside of Bartlett Fire and help other departments through my leadership with the association."
Falese said the association provides various services -- such as networking opportunities, training, advocacy for fire service legislation and funeral arrangements -- to fire chiefs, as well as assistant and deputy fire chiefs, from about 500 departments throughout the state.
"A fire chief job is an incredibly difficult job and the best way to help maintain and achieve that efficiency is to have an association you can turn to for help," he said, adding that the organization offers feedback on topics as simple as new policies to issues as complex as labor negotiations.
During his year as president, Falese hopes to increase membership and take into consideration suggestions members have for improving services.
Although small fire departments may think the association is only for bigger fire departments, Falese said he would encourage them -- particularly downstate departments -- to join the association because it offers resources they may be lacking. He added that the association offers specials for the cost of membership and is a good value for what chiefs will receive.
While he will be balancing daily work for the association with the demands of his full-time job as Bartlett fire chief, Falese said he welcomes the new role and said he appreciates the support he has been given by the village board, the fire district union and the community.