Carol Stream fire district inks agreement with retiring chief
Naming a successor to retiring Carol Stream Fire Chief Rick Kolomay could take "three months or longer," the district's board president says.
Trustees approved a retirement agreement with Kolomay after going into closed session Monday. The pact pays out unused time off, and then Kolomay will officially be off the fire protection district's books in three months, trustees said.
Kolomay is stepping down from what he has called cumulative injuries that keep him from doing the job after almost 37 years firefighting. He's been on medical leave since December and recently had shoulder surgery.
"We were hoping he was going to come back," board President William Natick said.
Natick said the board hasn't yet approached any potential successors to Kolomay. But trustees have previously filled the top post from within the ranks of the 15-square-mile district, which covers Carol Stream and parts of Bloomingdale, Winfield and Glendale Heights.
"We would always prefer to do that," he said.
Deputy Fire Chief Bob Hoff, a former Chicago Fire Department commissioner, handled Kolomay's duties during his leave and will continue to do so. Hoff was hired in 2012 as part of a reshuffling of district leadership, less than two weeks after he stepped down as the head of the nation's second-biggest department.
Then-Deputy Chief Perry Johnson moved to a newly created civilian position overseeing district finances and the fire prevention bureau, among other administrative jobs. Hoff's sworn position involves training firefighters and going on emergency calls.
"We're going to give it a little bit of time between us to see how these guys work out," Natick said, gesturing to Hoff and Johnson.
"We're in good hands," agreed Trustee James Panopoulos.
Hoff declined to say whether he was interested in seeking the position of chief.
"I'm enjoying what I do now," he said. "That's going to be the board's decision."
Hoff and Kolomay met in 1985, when he was a student in a class Kolomay taught at the state fire academy. They later collaborated when Chicago lieutenants and candidates used Carol Stream's training tower.
"I knew it was a good place to work and it is," he said. "It's like three of the best firehouses I had in the city we have here."
Natick also was a former student of Kolomay at the Roselle Fire Department in the 1980s.
"That was a while back, and he was state-of-the art then in this industry," he said.