Watch: Emotional walkout ceremony sends Barrington fire chief into retirement

  • Barrington Fire Chief Jim Arie, center right, was saluted with a walkout ceremony at the village's public safety building as he headed into retirement Friday.

      Barrington Fire Chief Jim Arie, center right, was saluted with a walkout ceremony at the village's public safety building as he headed into retirement Friday. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • An emotional walkout ceremony Friday capped the career of Barrington Fire Chief Jim Arie, center, who retired.

      An emotional walkout ceremony Friday capped the career of Barrington Fire Chief Jim Arie, center, who retired. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Barrington Fire Chief Jim Arie holds a folded American flag that was flown over the village's public safety building Friday before he was saluted with a walkout ceremony. Arie was hired as Barrington's fire chief in 2003 and retired Friday.

      Barrington Fire Chief Jim Arie holds a folded American flag that was flown over the village's public safety building Friday before he was saluted with a walkout ceremony. Arie was hired as Barrington's fire chief in 2003 and retired Friday. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Barrington Fire Chief Jim Arie greets some of his friends as he headed into retirement Friday at the village's public safety building.

      Barrington Fire Chief Jim Arie greets some of his friends as he headed into retirement Friday at the village's public safety building. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 3/6/2020 4:58 PM

An emotional walkout ceremony capped Barrington Fire Chief Jim Arie's career as he headed into retirement Friday.

Suburban fire chiefs, Barrington Village President Karen Darch and many others gathered at the public safety building on Northwest Highway to bid farewell to Arie, 64, who led the fire department since 2003.

 

In one poignant moment, a visibly touched Arie conducted a final inspection of Barrington firefighters in their dress blues while a bagpiper played. Waukegan Fire Chief George Bridges Jr. gave a "last order" to Arie that prompted a standing ovation from about 150 in attendance.

"Chief James Arie, with our thanks and appreciation, you are relieved of duty from the Barrington Fire Department," Bridges said.

Before the ceremony, Arie said the highlights of his time as fire chief varied from major calls to "the special little experiences."

"The fact that there are people in Barrington who are alive today as a direct result of the lifesaving efforts of Barrington firefighter/paramedics is special beyond words," he said. "I am so proud of our BFD personnel. They don't just take care of patients. They make a difference in the lives of others every day, and they directly contribute to the quality of life in Barrington.

"On a different level, it's pretty gratifying to see the children waving at us in the parades. When we have our annual open house in October, it's a special experience to see the little ones get to use a fire hose, or get a hug or a high-five from Sparky the Fire Dog. To see a child's face light up is unforgettable."

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Barrington officials credited Arie for his leadership in public safety and promoting the need for a Northwest Highway underpass at the Canadian National Railway tracks near Lake Zurich Road. He stressed how the underpass would eliminate train blockages for ambulances trying to reach Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital from Barrington's southeast side.

Arie was the Frankfort Fire Protection District's deputy chief when Barrington hired him for the top post in 2003. He started his career as a firefighter and paramedic in Urbana in 1976.

He said he was proud of how the Barrington police and firefighters not only get along while headquartered under one roof at the public safety building but also have a strong working relationship. He pointed to ties developed with other fire departments, Barrington Area Unit District 220 and civic organizations.

Arie said a low point was when the village split with the Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District in January 2014. After several years of working together to provide fire service for a 48-square-mile area, the divorce was caused by disagreements over the district wanting higher staffing levels and the village unwilling to go along because of concern over rising pension obligations.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

He's still grateful for how the community turned out in mid-December after he asked to pack the downtown Barrington Metra station platform in a show of support for seriously ill children who passed through on Operation North Pole's special "Polar Express" train.

"The people in Barrington are special," Arie said.

Police Chief David Dorn is serving as acting fire chief. Village Manager Scott Anderson said it's hoped a new fire chief is in place by mid-June.

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