Veteran Palatine firefighter joins Mundelein department as deputy chief
A veteran suburban firefighter has joined the Mundelein Fire Department as its newest deputy chief.
"I'm absolutely thrilled about it," Brents said. "I've been preparing for a role like this my entire career."
Brents was sworn in during Monday night's village board meeting, but he actually started in Mundelein April 2.
The move comes during a controversial reorganization of the Mundelein Fire Department's command staff that includes the elimination of two shift lieutenant positions.
Brents, 46, of Des Plaines, started his career with the Villa Park Fire Department in 1997 and jumped to Palatine in 1998.
In Palatine, Brents was a member of the department's honor guard and dive team. His professional recognition includes a Chief's Excellence Award for his efforts as the vice president of the Palatine Police and Fire Benevolent Association, a charity he co-founded to help police officers, firefighters, their families and others in times of need.
The Mundelein job opened in January 2017 after then-deputy chief Bill Lark was named chief deputy chief. Brents was among 40 applicants for the post last fall and was selected shortly afterward.
However, Brents requested to delay starting in Mundelein until this spring, officials said.
"He has tremendous leadership and communication skills that made the six-month wait well worth it," Mundelein Mayor Steve Lentz said.
Brents will collect an annual salary of $133,955.
Also Monday, Mundelein fire Lt. Brian Jones was sworn in as a battalion chief. Jones joined the department as a paid-on-call firefighter in 1996, became a full-time firefighter in 2000 and was promoted to lieutenant in 2014.
The staffing changes come just two months after trustees voted to reorganize the department's command staff and reduce the number of lieutenants working each shift.
The reorganization was proposed because the department is "top heavy," Village Administrator John Lobaito said at the time.
The department had six shift lieutenants, two per shift. Now Jones has been promoted and another lieutenant will be put in charge of training, public education and other administrative tasks.
That will leave four shift lieutenants, one of whom is expected to retire soon and won't be replaced.
The changes faced significant opposition from the public and the firefighters' labor union.