Longtime Gurnee fire chief relieved of duty

Fred Friedl's long tenure as the Gurnee's fire chief ended abruptly this week when Mayor Kristina Kovarik chose not to reappoint him.

Kovarik said she informed Friedl last week she would relieve him of the post he's held for nearly 20 years. She declined to discuss her reasons for replacing him.

“Everyone who takes these positions knows you have to be reappointed every year,” Kovarik said. “I decided not to reappoint him.”

On Monday, Kovarik recommended that former Deputy Chief John Kavanagh be named acting fire chief. The village board voted unanimously to accept the appointment.

Friedl, who had been chief since 1998, could not be reached by phone for comment Wednesday, and a person answering the door at his home said he was not there.

Asked Wednesday about Friedl's departure, Village Administrator Patrick Muetz said the village respects the privacy of its employees and does not publicly discuss personnel matters.

Kavanagh said he has been the department's deputy chief for more than 10 years.

He said Kovarik asked him last week if he would be willing to lead the department while village leaders search for a full-time chief.

“I want it to be as smooth a transition as possible to the new chief,” Kavanagh said.

Kovarik said the search for Friedl's replacement has not yet started.

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