Carpentersville fire chief retiring this spring
The Carpentersville Fire Department will see another change in leadership when Chief John Skillman retires this spring.
Born and raised in Carpentersville, Skillman has worked at the fire department 29 years, serving as deputy fire chief, battalion chief and lieutenant. He was named chief almost exactly a year ago, replacing former Public Safety Director Al Popp.
"He's such a good, community-spirited guy," Village President Ed Ritter said. "He's given all of his time and energy to the village, and in every capacity he's worked in, he's always put Carpentersville first."
After helping the new chief settle into the role, Skillman plans to retire May 3 to spend more time with his family, he said, and he may look for opportunities elsewhere.
"I've enjoyed working with the men and women of the Carpentersville fire department for the past several years," he said. "I want to thank them and everyone in the community for the experience."
An external search has begun for Skillman's replacement, who will be the department's third leader since longtime Chief John Schuldt retired in 2013.
Village Manager Mark Rooney said turnover as a result of retirement is "beyond management control," though village officials would hope to have the next chief stick around for several years.
"Ideally, it would be somebody who would have some longevity before their retirement," he said, "but we're looking for the best possible person."
In addition to the changes at the top, personnel action was recently taken to remove Deputy Chief Kevin Rynders, Rooney said, and the position was "civilianized at this time."
The circumstances behind Rynders' departure are not known, and Rooney declined to comment on the personnel matter.
Once a new chief is selected, the village plans to work with that individual to analyze the organizational structure of the department, including the future of the deputy chief position, said Kathy Lamkin, interim director of human resources.
Additionally, Ritter said the village board hopes to cut overtime expenses within the department.
"It's for costs, as well as efficiency (reasons), and thinking outside the traditional box to bring about some change of the paradigm," Rooney said.
In choosing a new chief, GovHR USA, a recruitment and human resources firm, will screen applicants based on criteria provided by the village and will present officials with 10 to 15 finalists, Rooney said. The salary for the job ranges from $125,000 to $155,000, depending on experience.
Rooney said he's looking to hire a strong leader with ample experience to implement the village board's goals and objectives.
An ideal candidate would also help to establish a positive atmosphere among the village and the International Association of Firefighters Local 4790, Rooney said.
"We're really looking for a cultural transformational-type leader who will take some of the last three to four years of acrimony, heal some of those wounds and put that behind us," he said.
Union President Rick Nieves said firefighters have had a "fairly good" relationship with Skillman and Rynders. "We had our differences occasionally, but we always did our best to work them out," he said.
The relationship between the village and the fire union can be "contentious," Ritter said, often leaving the fire chief caught in the middle.
"It can be an awkward position," Ritter said, "though John (Skillman) has always handled himself well. ... It'll be difficult to lose him, but he has his own reasons why he chose to make the decisions he did, and I'll respect those and wish him the best."